MANILA, PHILIPPINES (23 September 2021) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $251 million loan for urban flood protection and management in the Chennai–Kosasthalaiyar river basin in India.

Chennai’s rapid urbanization has encroached on the city’s natural landscape, reducing water bodies and water retention capacity. The city is relatively low and flat, located on the highly exposed southeast coast and traversing the rivers of Adyar, Cooum, and Kosasthalaiyar. These make the city vulnerable to widespread flooding that results in loss to the economy and livelihoods.  

“It is important to strengthen flood resilience through robust and adaptive measures to flood risk management and integrated urban planning to transform Chennai into a more livable city. Interventions should feature a combination of structural improvement and resilience-building solutions, such as better preparedness planning and promotion of behavioral change,” said ADB Senior Urban Development Specialist for South Asia Akira Matsunaga. “This project will improve climate and disaster resilience of affected communities, ultimately protecting their lives, economy, and the environment.”

The project will establish climate-resilient urban flood protection infrastructure. It will construct 588 kilometers (km) of new stormwater drains, rehabilitate or replace 175 km of stormwater drains, improve 11 km stretches in the Ambattur, Ariyallur, Kadappakkam, and Korattur channels to enhance water-carrying capacity, and upgrade a stormwater pumping station and construct a new one. It will also construct 23,000 catchpits in roadside drains to recharge the groundwater aquifer and rehabilitate four disaster relief camps.

Flood preparedness will be strengthened by developing guidelines to integrate flood hazard zoning into spatial and land use planning; implementing a flood citizen observatory for real-time information in flood areas; and creating a manual for green infrastructure design, including rainwater harvesting.

In addition, the project aims to enhance stakeholders’ involvement in flood preparedness by raising community knowledge and awareness of flood risks and impacts and its relationship with solid waste management, sewerage, and protection of water bodies. Technical staff of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) will also be trained on planning and design of stormwater drainage systems and management of solid waste and flood risks. The project includes gender-responsive measures such as women’s proactive participation in enhanced awareness program on flood risk and impacts, make the flood relief camps gender-responsive and socially inclusive, and train women in vulnerable female-headed households to enhance their employability and alternative livelihood.

The project will develop a plan to ensure sustainable operation and maintenance of stormwater drainage systems. The project will also support the GCC to develop a road map to strengthen municipal resource mobilization for delivering sustainable and quality municipal services to the citizens.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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