Floods are important components of the natural hydrological regime. They are a major source of water; they flush pollutants and sediment from river networks. It is also natural for rivers to overtop their banks with greater or lesser frequency and occupy their flood plains. The result is that floods cause property damage and bring death and injury to many communities. While there is no evidence as yet that the frequency or magnitude of flooding has increased world-wide, flood-prone areas are becoming increasingly more densely populated and thus more vulnerable. Consequently, a series of major flood disasters has occurred in recent years, with death and destruction being caused by such events in every continent.
The concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has attracted particular attention following the international conferences on water and environmental issues in Dublin and Rio de Janeiro held during 1992, and it was emphasized that IWRM is a necessary criterion for sustainable development. This gave birth to a need for a participatory institutional mechanism related to water, from which the Global Water Partnership (GWP), an international network open to all organizations involved in water resources management, was established in 1996. Since then a considerable amount of clarity in IWRM concept and approach has been developed through a variety of literature.
The available literature on IWRM, however, generally does not address the issues related to flood management aspects of water resources. The need to develop understanding on dealing with the flood management aspects within the context of IWRM with recognition that the river basin is a dynamic system was, therefore, recognized.
The Third Annual Consultative Group Meeting of the GWP (Stockholm, August 1998) raised the issue of flood management. This sectoral "gap" in relation to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) was studied and recommendations were submitted to the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) at its meeting in Warsaw in November 1998 which endorsed a flood initiative as a part of the Partnership's future activities.
At the fifteenth meeting (Athens, May 2000) of TAC WMO presented the initial project proposal to the TAC which was later revised in scope and considered by the TAC at its sixteenth meeting in Stockholm in August 2000. During this meeting it was recommended that: "In view of WMO's mandate in relation to flood mitigation, the Organization be asked to take the lead in bringing together those concerned in the development of detailed plans for this AP and, if these plans are approved, to act as the Network Manager for the AP on floods". Finally, the proposal for the establishment of the Associated Programme on Flood Management was endorsed by TAC in November 2000.
During the phase I (August 2001- July 2006) of the APFM, the principles of Integrated Flood Management have been established through the IFM Concept Paper supported by Flood Management Policy Series. The programme has conducted various regional pilot projects, has collected and synthesized flood management case studies and established a website to offer a variety of information including various products and a set of databases on flood management. The outcomes of phase I are acknowledged and appreciated at various international conferences, workshops and meetings, which induce the dialogue and involvement of institutions and individuals and start a global network to create the required knowledge base to support countries in their efforts to adopt IFM. The Governments of Japan and the Netherlands provided financial support to the APFM during the Phase I of the APFM.
The phase II of the programme (2006-2010) is in the process of consolidating these gains. It focuses on implementation of the IFM concept on the ground and seeks to develop capacities in the countries by supporting local and regional actions that advocate, support or demonstrate the IFM principles. The primary focus is on activities at the ground levels in supporting countries by providing guidance and organizing field demonstration projects to put the concepts of IFM, in its multidisciplinary approach, into practice. This is supported by a combination of training and awareness building at various levels addressing flood management issues within the integrated water resources management and by providing long-term support in the form of Help Desk and information services.
The Governments of Japan and Switzerland provide financial support to the APFM.