World Bank recommends centralized water authority to manage flood risk

Friday, June 29, 2012

The World Bank has made a number of recommendations that look to help Colombia better manage flood and landslide risk.

Between 1970 and 2011, the two calamities caused the largest of loss of life and damage to housing in Colombia, excluding the 1985 Nevado del Ruiz volcanic eruption, the multilateral said in its "Analysis on disaster risk management in Colombia" report.

In the period, more than 28,000 natural disasters occurred, leading to losses of over US$7.1bn, or US$177mn annually, the report reads.

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Flooding was responsible for 43% of damage to housing and 10% of fatalities in the 41-year period, while landslides accounted for 10% and 36% respectively.

Around 12% of Colombia's national territory is classed as highly flood prone, representing areas where 28% of the population currently live.

To address this, the World Bank recommends the creation of a centralized authority to establish new regulations and determine and coordinate those responsible for their application.

The authority would itself be overseen by a national committee on river management, which would be tasked with providing technical advice to the authority as well as information to government officials and the population in general, according to the report.

New regulations should include a definition of acceptable risk - the risk that any community would be willing to assume in exchange for determined benefits - as well as technical standards for risk evaluation and mitigation, the report adds.