Records of loss of life and damage caused by floods worldwide show that these have continued to rise steadily during recent years. Understandably, the response has been to call for increased efforts to protect life and property. However, given the density of population and level of investment on flood plains, such protection can only be achieved at great cost and often at the expense of denying the productive use of flood-prone land. Furthermore, small and medium sized floods can be a vital source of freshwater and can bring other benefits to the community and the natural environment.
At the same time, the sustainable and effective management of water resources demands a holistic approach - linking socio-economic development with the protection of natural ecosystems and appropriate management links between land and water uses. It is recognised that a river basin is a dynamic system in which there are many interactions between land and water bodies. In the light of this, attempts are needed and should be tried to improve the functioning of the river basin as a whole rather than simply fixing local problems.
This has called for the Integrated Flood Management (IFM), a new approach in which consideration is given to the positive as well as the negative aspects of flood waters and to the valuable resource that is represented by the flood plains that these waters occupy on occasions.
It integrates land and water resources development in a river basin, within the context of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), with a view to maximizing the net benefit from floodplains and minimizing loss to life due to extreme hydrologic events.
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