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Flood protection measures

Flood management plays an important role in protecting people and their socioeconomic development in floodplains. Unfortunately, strategies that rely on structural solutions (dams and reservoirs, embankments, bypass channels) alter the natural environment of the river, resulting in losses of habitat, biological diversity, and productivity of natural systems. The need for sustainable development has highlighted the importance of addressing the negative consequences on the environment of these flood-protection measures. Environmental degradation has the potential to threaten human society in the areas of safety of life, economic wellbeing, and food and health security. Thus, it is essential to consider environmental impacts in flood management activities (WMO 2006b). There are no universal solutions that determine environmentally friendly flood management practices. Practices should be adopted that suit the particular circumstances of a basin using the three-way approach of avoiding, reducing, and mitigating adverse environmental impacts without compromising the flood management objective. This, in essence, is integrated flood management (IFM), a process that promotes an integrated – rather than fragmented – approach. IFM integrates land and water resources development in a flood plain within the context of IWRM, and aims to maximize the net benefits from flood plains while conserving the environment and minimizing loss to life, infrastructure, and property from flooding (WMO 2006a).

An integrated approach means considering all the impacts in a holistic manner by looking at linkages and interdependencies between upstream and downstream areas as well as between the river course and the flood plain. This means looking at the whole river basin with its natural boundaries in line with the flow patterns of water, rather than individual administrative areas. IFM uses a multidisciplinary approach to flood management and involves a wide range of stakeholders, including professionals from different agencies and fields directly or indirectly related to flood management, and representatives of those most likely to be affected by flooding, as well as by anti-flooding measures. (Shrestha et al. 2012)