International Symposium on Flash Floods – Recommendations and Future Research Agenda addressed

HALBAN The organizers of the 3rd International Symposium on Flash Floods in Wadi Systems held at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) mid-December have released a list of recommendations regarding the implementation of the expert’s recommendations for the mitigation of flooding and disastrous damages in arid countries.

“The participant scientists concluded that until today, there is no way to avoid flooding, which may cause disastrous damages,”  said Prof. Ekkehard Holzbecher, Symposium Chair.  “Even though, counter measures can be improved to reduce the risk of flooding and to mitigate negative effects by proper flood management, and future researches will focus on that direction,” he added. “Improved floodwater harvesting technologies will enhance groundwater quantity and quality in arid countries,” Holzbecher emphasized.

Some arid countries like Morocco have developed a flood mitigation strategy including a ground water recharge. However, the wadi environment is always affected. Thus, there is a need to mitigate negative impacts of these structures and to study how to optimize the flood storage works. It is paramount to collaborate with different research institutes to develop new indices to quantify the changes of sediment and water budget and simultaneously the changes of vegetation, aquatic life and water quality. Moreover, social impacts must be evaluated, e.g. concerning urbanization, the loss of agriculture and the decreasing importance of Aflaj systems (traditional irrigation systems) in Oman.

“The fourth International Symposium on Flash Floods in Wadi Systems will take place, at the University Hassan II in Casablanca (Morocco) between 20 – 22 November this year,” said Dr Ahmed Hadidi from GUtech and member of ISFF organizing committee. “The 4th ISFF will focus on urban flood risk management – mitigation and adaptation measures in the MENA region,” he added.

In conclusion, the team of international experts, mainly from Oman, Germany, Japan, Morocco and Egypt suggest to carry out a more proactive approach in disaster risk reduction and the management of flash floods. This can be done through implementing a trans-disciplinary research team and by establishing an early warning system in Oman. Furthermore, it has been suggested to introduce a joint research programme including the water administration (Ministry of Water Resources, Water Board etc.) and academics such as hydrologists, modeller, hydraulic engineers, urban planners, as well as social scientists.

Text: GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Dr. Ahmed Hadidi; Photo: GUtech/Media Center
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