The Bodrog River Basin is exposed to severe flooding caused by jumbled urbanization and low connectivity between land (agriculture and forestry), urban and water planning. In addition, this basin is shared by three countries (Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary) that have different priorities and interests of economic development.
Also, regulatory regime differs that complicate planning processes. Supported by GEF/UNDP funds, the establishment of partnerships between national and local levels was proposed in a corporate “Strategy for mitigation of floods for Bodrog River Basin countries”.
The main project objective was to mitigate consequences of floods through achieving consistent and holistic management of flood risk in three basin countries. The project facilitated top down and bottom up approach to ensure that national policies are transposed into practical solutions and local flood protection experiences are mainstreamed into the national policies.
It successfully combined various policy, practical and communication ingredients such as flood management strategy; demonstration sites rehabilitation measures, capacity and ownership building at local scale and public information campaign.
Activities were carried out in the project by the consortium of the GWP facilitated partners from Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine. Activities included technical assistance on development of strategic documents for the area (namely, the Strategy for mitigation of floods for the Bodrog River Basin), and concrete investments in pilot areas in each country of the Bodrog River Basin.
Project activities considered the maintenance and/or restoration of floodplains by creating a “space” for water during flood events, as well as measures to prevent and reduce damage to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activities.
The involvement of municipalities, river basins organizations, NGOs, farmers, spatial and urban planning authorities was critical. Practical examples of floodplain restoration contributed also to improved habitats conditions. Also, the project partners actively participated in the dissemination of project results providing information for possible replication actions on national levels and to other basins.
- Flood management measures include complex technical and administrative measures. It is very sensitive to request farmers to give up the agriculture benefits in favor of floodplain restoration although seasonal or unexpected events of floods might damage their economic profits.
- Another complex issue relates to urbanization; urban planners might have an absence of knowledge on flood risk when making decisions on future urban settlements.
- Administrative curbs are many: ranging from sectoral approaches to transboundary issues. In order to implement an effective integrated ecosystem management, it is necessary to establish functional public – private partnership.
- Early involvement of local stakeholders in development of technical measures (sluices) helped to reach consensus and smoothed construction permitting process.
- In Slovakia, farmers were not willing to cooperate due to unclear ownership situation and current agro-environment subsidies which are discouraging farmers to change land use from arable land to grass land or wetlands. However, the project clearly demonstrated that there are available low-cost and effective solutions for flood prevention.
Photo credit: GWP Moldova/Dumitru Drumea