ADB IHE Delft Knowledge Partnership
Asian Development Bank - IHE Delft

Guidelines for Managing Urban Floods Tool

There are numerous examples that the world is being overwhelmed by increasingly disastrous events. However, the majority of these events, although commonly referred to as natural disasters, are not in fact the result of nature related processes alone. They are to an ever increasing extent directly attributable to the actions of human beings. These actions are the result of human thinking and decisions, which in turn are based on understandings, attitudes, needs and values. The notion of holistic thinking which emerges in the book "Unflooding Asia the Green Cities Way" is to enforce the sociotechnical point of view within a flood risk mitigation practice in which technical parts cannot be separated from social parts.

This book is a direct response to the question of how to make urban areas to become more resilient to floods and it argues that, if such a ‘problem’ can be posed at all, we must already pose it as an essentially sociotechnical problem which concerns not only technology but also our values and our beliefs. It suggests that the way forward can be found only if we broaden our view and learn how the natural or social phenomena can provoke a response in a society, or a social group, which in turn can trigger the technical developments, and so on, again and again, in what has the potential to become a network of interactions and relationships through positive feedback (or coevolving) cycles. It also argues that we need to search for those resilient and adaptive solutions which are not only technologically and economically efficient, but more importantly which are in harmony with the ecosystem as a whole.

The book is concerned with the sociotechnology of flooding and its amelioration. It is designed to provide the reader with a holistic view of flood risk, its underlying philosophies and supporting frameworks and techniques. It is beyond the scope of this book to go into a detailed discussion of aspects such as hydraulics, hydrology, ecology, complexity theory, economics, ethics and societal considerations as these can be traced from our references and other sources (for example, Vojinovic and Abbott, 2012). Even though it demonstrates in one of its chapters some of the latest international practices for dealing with floods and flood-related disasters the book does not intend to provide a detailed guidance of hands on methodologies concerning their practical implementation. Instead, it intends to inspire and promote a new way of thinking and to provide an opening for some interesting theoretical and practical frameworks that could follow. It also aims to raise awareness and to point into some of the key deficiencies which are present in the current thinking and practice. It is written to support a wide range of audiences and it seeks to improve the dialogue between practitioners, researchers, academics, planners, urban architects, decision makers and all other individuals who have a strong interest in floods and flood-related disasters. However, the policy makers and decision makers who deal with flood-related problems (and who have some preliminary knowledge in the subject area) will benefit most from this book.

Key tasks

  • Collect information on major urban flooding that affected Asian cities in recent years and some management practices (Thailand, Philippines, China);
  • Carry out analysis on the reasons leading to urban flood and their  impacts, with comparison to cities in developed countries;
  • Compile lessons learned and international best practice on urban flood prevention, warning, urban planning, institutional arrangements, and structural and non-structural measures, Figure 1;
  • Produce a book;