Undertaking flood management

Providing flood control
Protecting from flooding
Improving flood control
For decades the human race has not coped well with floods, despite the prevailing view that science and technology are bringing them under control. Part of the reason for this failure has been a lack of understanding of the complex nature of what causes flooding. Flood management as opposed to flood control implies a more integrated approach incorporating natural processes, technological applications and societal responses.

Preparation for and response to both floods and drought in the future should be based on integrated studies of physical and social conditions using climatic, hydrological and economic models. Epidemiological research is required to determine the medium- and long-term effects of floods and drought on health.

Flood control calls for effective action world wide, particularly in many developing countries, where crippling damage caused by floods frustrate efforts to break the vicious cycle of poverty. Where the incidence of floods is particularly severe, such as in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, in addition to short-term damage control measures, long-term structural measures are needed, such as multipurpose dams to control and store the flows etc.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends undertaking flood and drought management, including risk analysis and environmental and social impact assessment.

In a demonstration of the ability of wetlands to reduce flooding, the US Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) elected to acquire and preserve wetlands along the Charles River in Massachusetts through acquisition rather than construct extensive flood damage reduction facilities. Through the purchase of 8,115 acres of wetlands, the Corps reduced flood damage and preserved other wetland functions that would have been lost. The annual cost of the project averaged $617,000 and the annual benefits averaged $2.1 million.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal