Climate Change, Global Floods, and Lessons from the Dutch

by Mahtab Divsalar —28 July 2021

The 2019 flood in Iran was the deadliest in recent years, but it will not be the last.

With the effects of climate change growing more serious, Iran will have other devastating floods in the future.

Recent floods have devastated parts of Western Europe, yet there were no casualties in the Netherlands.

Zamaneh asked Dutch experts about their success in dealing with the recent floods in Europe and what Iranians could learn from the Dutch experience.

Long-term planning for flood control, proper management of water resources, and relying on adequate flood warning systems are key to reducing casualties and financial losses.

Bas Jonkman is a professor of Hydraulic Engineering at Delft University in the Netherlands. He focuses on research and education in the fields of hydraulic structures and flood risk.

In an interview with Zamaneh, Professor Jonkman explained why there were fewer fatalities in the Netherlands than elsewhere:

“Rainfall was much more extreme in Germany [and Belgium] than in the Netherlands. Also, the geographies are different. In Germany and Belgium, there are steeper catchments [and valleys], so there was more sudden and extreme ‘flash flooding,’ followed by landslides in some areas. Warning systems did not work everywhere.”

“In the Netherlands, we had out-of-bank flooding in local streams and rivers (e.g., Valkenburg), but the Meuse River stayed within its banks. The inhabited areas around the Meuse are protected by dikes, which just held. Some mass evacuations were ordered,” Professor Jonkman said.

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‏Zamaneh Media is a Persian language media organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. READ MORE: