Recent floods across Central Europe have affected thousands of people, driving them from their homes. The Elbe, the Danube, the Vltava, and other rivers have overflowed their banks after several weeks of heavy rain. The floods caused extensive damage in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia.
The worst flooding was around the Danube river which starts in Germany and passes through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary on its way to the Black Sea. Workers put up flood barriers along the banks of the Danube in the Slovak capital Bratislava, and police shut several roads. In Hungary, where the capital Budapest is also built on the banks of the Danube, 400 people were working on flood defenses.
Floods often cause severe damage and can never be fully controlled. However, they are an important component of the natural hydrological regime. Floods are a major source of water: they flush pollutants and sediment from river networks. It is natural for rivers to overtop their banks and occupy flood plains. As a result, floods can cause property damage and bring injury to many communities.
There is no evidence yet that the frequency or magnitude of flooding has increased worldwide. However, flood-prone areas are becoming more densely populated and – as a result - more vulnerable. Consequently, a series of major flood disasters has occurred in recent years, with death and destruction on every continent.
Integrated Flood Management (IFM) is a process that promotes an integrated approach to flood management that aims to improve the functioning of river basins. It integrates land and water resources development within the context of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), trying to maximize the efficient use of floodplains and minimize the loss of life. Such an approach seeks to subordinate flood loss reduction to the overall goal of maximizing the efficient use of the flood plain.
The Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) is a joint initiative of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP). The programme’s mission is to support countries in the integrated management of floods, particularly National Meteorological and Hydrological Services. The programme has been financially supported by the governments of Japan, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
The APFM website includes the IFM HelpDesk and The Flood Management Policy Series. The HelpDesk is a facility that provides guidance on flood management policy, strategy, and institutional development. The Flood Management Policy Series is a set of advocacy papers focusing on specific aspects of IFM, compiled to facilitate the implementation of IFM principles into the development planning of river basins.