Argonne | Nuclear Engineering Division | IAEA Programs | Training Courses

Workshop on Decision Makers Awareness on Flood Management and Mitigation

1 – 3 September 2015


Purpose of the course

The main objective of this workshop is to bring about awareness and subsequent coordinated actions amongst decision makers in Member States in the application of nuclear techniques as a complementary approach to conventional techniques for flood risk mitigation and management (including post-flood rehabilitation efforts). This awareness will subsequently create potential opportunities for all stakeholders (involving in land and water resource management), responsible for developing and implementing flood management and mitigation at national and regional levels to:

(i) Take into account an integrated watershed management approach involving multi-disciplinary skills in isotope hydrology, animal production and health, plant breeding and genetics and soil-water-crop management to improve the adaptability of agricultural land and soil, water, crops and animal management practices to both pre-flood mitigation and preparedness and post flood response, recovery and rehabilitation;

(ii) Promote the application and effective implementation of nuclear-based techniques as tracers to track the sources and pathways of diseases, nutrients and soil and water movement within agricultural landscapes so as to identify management practices that enhance the resilience and adaptive capability of agricultural systems to withstand and benefit from flooding events, while minimizing any negative flooding impacts;

(iii) Be familiar with the IAEA-recently developed Guidelines on the Applications of Nuclear Techniques for Flood Mitigation and Management. These Guidelines aim to enhance the awareness of various stakeholders in Member States that the application of nuclear techniques can be complementary to and not a substitute for, conventional (non-nuclear) techniques in understanding the interaction between soil-water-crop and livestock components in agricultural landscapes.

Scope and Nature

The workshop, planned for three days, is intended for decision makers currently involving in flood risk management and post flood rehabilitation. It aims to create awareness of the use of nuclear-based techniques as complementary to conventional techniques to address pre-flood mitigation and post-flood management. This awareness can subsequently help these decision makers to facilitate the integration of all sectors involving in land (soil-crop-livestock) and water resources, to deploy a range of nuclear techniques to address flooding issues (pre-flood mitigation and post-flood rehabilitation).

The workshop programme will include a series of presentations by the IAEA staff and international experts on integrated solution for flood risk management and post-flood rehabilitation involving multi-disciplinary skills in isotope hydrology, soil-water-crop management, animal production and health, and plant mutation breeding. This integrated approach can assist in flood forecasting and provide land inventory data of potential areas at risk of flooding, on-farm and area-wide soil water storage, enhanced land resilience against soil erosion-degradation, development of flood tolerant crop varieties and early detection and prevention of disease outbreaks in livestock. The programme will also include a review and discussion sessions on the use of the IAEA Guidelines on the applications of nuclear techniques in the four areas outlined. Case studies and lessons learned by the application of these techniques by some Member States such as China and Vietnam will also be shared. Discussions will also be held on how best the nuclear techniques could be incorporated at national-regional levels and the potential future follow-up tasks and coordinated activities. On a final day, a representative from each participating country will be invited to present the proposed outline of the approach based on the knowledge gained in the workshop to incorporate into the current national work plan involving flood risk management/mitigation. In addition, the workshop will also provide participants with an overview of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme to assist Member States with capacity building and technical support in the application of nuclear techniques as a complementary approach to conventional techniques in flood risk mitigation and management.

At the workshop, potential pilot projects as demonstration sites for the use of nuclear-based techniques in the four disciplines will be briefly mentioned. These pilot sites could be used for: (i) on-going promotion of the use of nuclear techniques as outlined in the Guidelines for Member States and (ii) facilitation of the exchange of scientific knowledge and resource collaboration in the region.

Background Information

Floods are the most frequent among all natural disasters, and the East Asia and Pacific region, along with South Asia, is particularly vulnerable (UNEP, 2015: http://www.unescap.org/news/enhanced-regional-cooperation-key-building-resilience-floods-and-landslides). Climate change and variability are expected to bring about increased typhoon activities, rising sea levels and out-of-phase monsoon seasons in South East Asia and other regions. These can bring about devastating floods in Cambodia, Laos, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam, endangering the lives and health of the population and cause serious losses in people’s livelihoods, including food and livestock. In the past 30 years, the number of floods in Asia amounted to about 40 per cent of the total worldwide. More than 90% of the global population exposed to floods live in Asia, posing a serious and growing development challenge for fast growing low and middle-income countries in East Asia. The countries in Asia with large populations are particularly prone to recurrent flooding, resulting in countless loss of lives, injuries, diseases and trauma in addition to practically wiping out decades of investments in infrastructure and personal wealth of people. Floods have tremendous socioeconomic impact, reflected mainly through retarded development. A flood-stricken area must first be restored to normal before any development activity can be carried out. Restoration can take time. In addition to the directly determinable losses, there may be indirect potential losses. These result from unproductivity in many areas such as in business, trade and commerce, etc. All these losses can wipe out whatever gains that may have been achieved in economic development. Floods cause losses both to the gross domestic product (GDP) and to capital stock, thus hampering the growth potential of the country. Moreover, these losses also have a long-term impact on macro-economy. Capital damages induce a lower GDP in subsequent years (to the extent of investment losses); and, output losses (caused during the flood-affected year) lower incomes and possibly reduce savings available for financing investments. The regional project RAS 5069 entitled: “Complementing Conventional Approaches with Nuclear Techniques towards Flood Risk Mitigation and Post-Flood Rehabilitation Efforts in Asia” has been initiated in 2014 and its aims are to develop integrated approaches and best-fit flood mitigation/adaptation strategies to the needs of the participating MSs in the region. The First Coordination Meeting of this RAS 5069 Project was successfully held on 10-13 June 2014, Vienna with the participations of national representatives from MSs from the South and East Asia and Pacific Regions that are most vulnerable to floods (e.g., Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam). Subsequently, a 4-day task force (11-14 November 2014) consisting of 4 technical experts, together with IAEA Technical Officers from the IAEA Department of Nuclear Applications relating to soil, plants- and water management, isotope hydrology, crop and livestock management was held in IAEA Headquarters in Vienna, Austria to develop the guidelines entitled: “Applications of Nuclear Techniques for Flood Mitigation and Management”. These Guidelines aim to enhance the awareness of various stakeholders in Member States on the use of nuclear-based techniques as complementary to conventional techniques to address pre-flood mitigation and post-flood management. The 3-day IAEA-Argonne Workshop on “Decision Makers Awareness on Flood Management and Mitigation” will provide a good opportunity to enhance this awareness and facilitate