Flood management strategies and controlled flooding in the Dutch, Bangladesh and Vietnamese deltas

This research investigates how 'dealing with delta floods' is taking shape in three of the largest world deltas, by zooming in on how flood management approaches aimed at 'controlled flooding', or 'de-poldering' are taking shape in the three deltas. It aims to shed light on how this takes shape, and reflects on its potential contribution to achieving flood resilient deltas and delta communities.

The 'traditional' approach of responding to delta floods with large scale infrastructure and full flood control is, especially in the Dutch delta, now complemented by strategies that have a different attitude towards natural processes and ecosystem dynamics. The Room for the River program is instrumental in proposing the almost un-Dutch measure of 'de-poldering' former agricultural polders, and reconnect them to the river floodplains. This may provide the required space to reduce peak discharge levels, while yearly flooding is expected to positively influence the river wetlands and delta ecosystem.

In the two Asian deltas, controlled flooding was, or is, still an inherent element of the agricultural and water system. In Bangladesh, Tidal River Management developed as an intervention to restore tidal floods in the southwest delta as a response to the negative impacts of flood prevention infrastructure in the region. In Vietnam, the yearly overland flow and flood-facilitating August dikes support the Mekong's rice production, but calls for full flood protection are being voiced.

Dynamic Deltas Project blog