Saturday, 5 August 2017

Floods Again: What Can Be Done Differently in South Asia?

Floods are age old but must South Asia's response to floods be age old as well? South Asia is now emerging to be a leader in reducing disaster risk. Such regional efforts were well received by Asian countries in the recent Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) held in Delhi in November 2016.
The ongoing floods in Assam in the North East of India and Gujarat in the West of India offer an opportunity to re-look the flood response in South Asia.
Therefore, this issue of Southasiadisasters.net enlists what can be done differently. Cyclones are one such area. Floods and cyclones go hand-in-hand and the recent cyclone Mora in Myanmar offered an opportunity to look at floods recovery in an urban setting. New ways must be found to deal with floods in cities and towns that propel South Asia's economic growth. What is needed is "new dimensions" that David Sanderson and others offer in the recent book titled, "Urban Disaster Resilience".
The second area is dams. A large number of dams are built in South Asia, and many more are being built to irrigate and mange floods. But are these dam safe from floods? Are they safe enough to protect the development and progress that they are supposed to spawn.
Third, obvious but not well recognized area is floods and forestry in South Asia. Forests slow down run-off and thus reduce floods. Floods wash away forests. Both impact each other and yet there is no clear direction on how to manage floods in forests and manage forests to reduce floods in South Asia. Women leaders in Nepal are thinking and reflecting on this overlap from a leadership point of view.
The Fourth area is ongoing activities around DRR road maps. DRR road maps do not adequately address issues of rampant and repeated floods and how to reduce flood impact as well as its causes. A road map for flood prone areas such as Assam or Gujarat in India is overdue. Hazard specific action plans are overdue at the sub-national level. The challenge of mainstreaming floods in South Asia's DRR road maps is widely shared in civil society members in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
Fifth, is it smart for a city to be flooded: have water logged roads and partially submerged housing colonies? Smart City infrastructure investments in India offer an opportunity to reduce risks, if not all, at least flood risks faced by its economic hubs and low income communities.
Sixth, relief offered after floods is not new to South Asia. What is new is possible and now pioneering use of cash transfer in such relief. ECHO South Asia has done effective work in cash transfer after floods with its partners in Odisha in India in 2014. And the direction is promising.
The above six are not the only ways to deal with floods differently in South Asia. But the above are some of the key ways that need urgent and additional attention while dealing with floods in South Asia.
– Mihir R. Bhatt
See more: https://www.dropbox.com/s/njvaj77epw9ldtn/159%20Snet%20Floods%20Again.pdf?dl=0

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