UN agency urges global uptake of flood devastation prevention measures

26 September 2008

With 200 million people worldwide living in coastal flood zones, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) is urging States to take measures to prevent flooding from turning into a disaster.

The devastation caused by floods was evident recently in Bangladesh, Nepal and India, where thousands of villages were submerged as rivers burst their banks, according to a news release issued by the ISDR Secretariat in Geneva.

“Flooding is already on the rise due to increasing populations living in flood plains, and climate change will make floods more frequent and severe, with a particular impact on deltas. The recent floods… are glimpses of a future that we need to start adapting to now,” said ISDR chief Sálvano Briceño.

Successful flood control systems have been implemented across several countries such as Viet Nam, which has used mangrove reforestation to considerably reduce the impact of flooding on coastal populations. Meanwhile, China has spent around $3 billion in flood control efforts between 1960 and 2000, helping to avert an estimated $12 billion in losses.

Cost-effective methods to prevent flooding from turning into disaster include risk assessments, evacuation plans, education and not building in flood-prone areas, all of which would require community participation.


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