Assess and Adjust to Flood Risk, Reap Benefits -- ADB Report

News Release | 27 April 2012

BEIJING, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA - Frequent flooding in the People's Republic of China (PRC) must be anticipated and managed so that people living in flood-affected areas can find ways to adjust to flood cycles, a new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says.

"People and governments need to recognize that flood risks cannot be eliminated entirely," said Yoshiaki Kobayashi, ADB's Senior Water Resources Specialist and one of the authors of the Learning to Live with Flood Risk report.

"Instead, people should learn to cope with some degree of the risks and, in return, derive benefits from floods such as improved soil fertility, sustenance of ecosystems, and richness of the whole river environment."

Floods cause serious loss of lives and damage to property, amounting to 1% of PRC's gross domestic product per year on average.

The report recommends a risk management approach to flood control, and provides useful options to the PRC and other countries. It suggests that flood risks should be assessed in three ways - hazard, exposure, and vulnerability - with each managed by distinct types of measures.

Flood hazard can be modified mainly by structural measures, such as dikes, dams, and diversions. Upper watershed management also plays an important role. Exposure to flood hazard can be best managed by proper planning and zoning of land use in more developed parts of river basins. Vulnerability of people and assets can be lessened by using flood forecasting and warnings and flood mapping.