Hungary/Ukraine: Elaboration of IWRM Plans for transboundary catchments (#315)

The Upper Tisza basin requires international cooperation for its management, recognised through bilateral agreements. To further improve management, action was taken to develop a complex joint flood and water management development plan. This project is being implemented in several stages, ranging from elaboration of methods, description of ecological status to the establishment of environmental objectives to improve the current status. The key lesson is the value of bilateral effort in water management.   


The Upper Tisza basin is divided by frontiers, so the water management and environmental tasks can be only executed through international cooperation. Several bilateral and multilateral agreements deal with water and environmental management issues in the Tisza basin. 

Water management is the foundation of the development of the region, which should lead to new agricultural benefits and increasing flood protection safety. The systems of water management structures are joint on several points therefore are able to fulfill their tasks only together. The 1947 and 2001 floods also showed the cross-border effects of the floods.

The Hungarian-Ukrainian cross-border water management agreement obligatorily prescribes the elaboration of joint plans and the mutual approval of cross-border developments. The water management developments are combined with rural development and environmental programmes, which are also part of the joint cross-border development plans.

Action taken

A project was elaborated with the objective to develop a complex and joint flood – water management development plan.

It involved: 

  • elaborating multi-purpose (guaranteeing flood-level reduction, and permanent water detention) complementary Hungarian and Ukrainian reservoirs,
  • water diversion structures, dike development and floodplain revitalization plans, combining these with the Vásárhelyi plan (Hungary) and the State Complex Program (Ukraine) on flood protection.

The project consisted in several stages, ranging from elaboration of methods, description of ecological status to the establishment of environmental objectives to improve the current status. It also included the development of feasibility studies, environmental and strategic impact assessment, and implementation plans.

The integral part of the process was to involve the public and important stakeholders (farmers, local governments, operators) into the planning processes. The results of the project are license plans for flood protection infrastructure (dikes, reservoirs, water diversion structures).

Lessons learned

Joint effort of two neighbor countries in better use of the surface water resources support rural development of the country border, preserving the values of the environment and the countryside, and improving flood prevention.

The practical and methodological achievements, experiences can be used later in the elaboration of joint Hungarian-Ukrainian flood prevention and environmental development programs concerning other joint catchments of the Upper-Tisza.

Importance of the case for IWRM

This project addressed three problems:  improving flood prevention in the project area, preserving the values of the environment with the water supplying of wetlands, and ensuring opportunity to develop a new land-use management.

This project clearly shows that, with the help of integrated water management, several problems could be approached and solved simultaneously.


Photo credit: Csilla Dobi