World Bank wants community help in flood management
Andreas D. Arditya, The Jakarta Post - 07/05/2012
Resident participation is crucial in flood prevention and mitigation in urban areas, regional policymakers were told in a recent workshop on flood risk management and urban resilience in Jakarta.
The workshop was held by the World Bank with the support of South Korea and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
It was attended by around 50 representatives from seven Asian nations: China, Indonesia, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
Abhas K. Jha, the leader of the disaster risk management program for the World Bank’s East Asia and the Paciﬁc Region, said that policymakers had to strike a balance between structural and non-structural measures to fight flooding.
“The main issue in non-structural flood risk management is the engagement of the people at risk and encouragement of citizen preparedness. Communication is, therefore, a key element,” Abhas told the workshop.
He said that non-structural measures were less expensive, because they did not require extensive investment in hard-engineered infrastructures — as did structural measures — instead relying instead on a good understanding of flood hazards.
Stricter land use planning and regulations on new developments also had a role in reducing flood risks, particularly in rapidly urbanizing emerging economies, Abhas added.
According to the World Bank, urban flooding is a serious and growing development challenge and a global phenomenon that causes widespread devastation, economic damages and loss of life.
The international financial institution said that floods were the most frequent natural disaster across the globe, citing that 178 million people were affected by floods in 2010 alone.
Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo, in his opening remarks at the workshop, said that he had learned from experience that successful flood risk management began at the community level.
“We policymakers and urban development experts must have the ability to listen to the community we are serving,” Fauzi said.
The governor said that Jakarta’s flood management challenge included facing climate change, rapid urbanization and reducing poverty.
“Eradication of poverty and addressing welfare issues go hand in hand with managing floods,” Fauzi said.
“The completion of the East Flood Canal [BKT] in East Jakarta in 2010 has not just been about building a water infrastructure, but it has also been about reviving communities along the river that have been devastated by annual floods,” Fauzi said.
Completion of the canal has reduced flooding by 30 percent, the city administration has said.