Changing the attitudes of farmers and local authorities

Posted: 2012-01-02

GWP Slovakia, GWP Hungary and GWP Ukraine worked with municipalities, river basin organisations, NGOs, farmers and urban planning authorities to develop a workable partnership to manage flood risks in the transboundary Bodrog River Basin.

The 18-month project resulted in practical measures to restore the floodplain and improve flood protection. Funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF), the project addressed the competing interests of farmers and planners that needed to be taken into account when restoring the Bodrog Basin floodplain ecosystem, improving biodiversity and reducing the risk of flooding. Early involvement of local stakeholders was a critical factor in getting consensus, for instance, on the design of sluices. Public involvement had positive side effects, such as eliminating illegal disposal and curtailing releases of untreated wastewater. Involving farmers makes them more amenable to requests to forgo some of their activities in favour of floodplain restoration, even though this may affect their profits.

Exchange visits between countries were enormously useful in identifying common opportunities and benefits, not only in managing floods but also in cultural and social spheres, and for tourism. A strategy developed during the project set out ways for stakeholders to cooperate in putting in place flood management through river basin planning processes.

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