Kur indomitable?

Analysis Materials 27 May 2010 12:10 (UTC +04:00)

World statistics show that about two-thirds of all natural disasters account for meteorological natural phenomenas: floods, tsunamis, heavy rains and others. Every year, according to UNESCO, 520 million people suffer from floods and rainfalls, and 25,000 die. The world economy incur the lost of $50 to $60 billion. Nearly 1 billion people on the earth live in flood plains of rivers.

The annual floods in the rivers is a natural weather phenomenon, river flows are trying to pave a new path, gradually changing the contours of the surrounding landscape. Also, floods bring many benefits: saturate the soil surface, which is especially important for arid areas, recharge groundwater reserves, carry nutrients, in other words, maintain the ecological balance in the area. Floodplain areas are major sources of livelihood for most developing countries with economies based on agriculture.

Floods are natural disasters, when a person inhabits the floodplain of the river, proceeding from his own socio-economic interests. Historically, population density has always been high in floodplains. What attracted people to settle along rivers? First of all, it's fertile soil, consisting of alluvial soil, the presence of unbounded water resources for agricultural purposes, easy access to transport routes and markets. A striking example is the Kingdom of the Netherlands, where the mouth of the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt begins, and 70% of the territory of which is potentially subject to flooding. On the other hand, 70% of the country's GDP is produced in these areas. A similar picture is observed in many countries and regions, particularly in view of population growth and infrastructure development.

Thus, a contradiction arises between economic development (the interests of people) and human and socio-economic losses, as well as the vital activity of aquatic ecosystems. Trying to protect themselves from floods, people build dams, bypass canals, deepening the river beds. But, to build a costly engineering construction as a one-time measure of protection does not mean the solution. One can, thus, violate the morphological structure of the reservoir as an integrated ecosystem, and face with new and serious problems (drought, waterlogging and others) in the future.

Experts consider the best option a balance between the benefits of socio-economic activities of people living in floodplains and the risks associated with loss of human life, property damage and breach of aquatic ecosystems. Thus, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the optimal mechanism is the concept of integrated flood management in the context of their joint initiative called the Associated Programme on Flood Management. It is emphasized that this concept is not universal and needs to be adapted in each case.

The concept identifies some weaknesses of the old, traditional approach to flood management measures: they focus on "control" rather than "management" and they are usually carried out sporadically, they are based on reaction to the situation, but not preventing it, it focuses mainly on the design (construction) activities; solutions are developed within only one discipline, the morphological characteristics of the river are not taken into account, the past events are rarely taken into account. Finally, flood management is a problem, being neglected at the international, and in many cases, at the national level.

The concept of integrated flood management is a comprehensive rather than piecemeal approach to river basin resources, including the five key elements:

- Management of water cycle as a whole;

- Integration of land and water resources management;

- Management of risk and uncertainty;

- Using the most optimal combination of strategies;

- Ensuring joint participation (all stakeholders);

- Application of the approaches of integrated management of hazardous situations.

If to look at practicing these elements, as an example, it is possible to set some activities stipulated in the Directive of the European Union 2007/60/EU on the estimation and management of flood risks (EU Directive on flood), adopted in late 2007 and mandatory for all EU member states. Under the directive, by 2011 the EU countries must complete a preliminary assessment of flood risk for each river basin, then to map areas potentially subject to flooding, taking into account real estate, infrastructure and population at risk. They will, in particular, examine the feasibility of further economic activity in those or other areas.

By 2015, every country should have an action plan on disaster. Given the multifunctional character of the problem of flood control, it can not be solved by or be in the sphere of influence of only one organization. Therefore, close coordination between all parties to solve this problem is one of the main conditions for success. The EU Directive gives the right of public access to this information and records of their opinion.

According to the overview report "Implementing the principles of integrated water resources management in Central Asia and Caucasus", Azerbaijan is one of the regions often incurring adverse affect of rivers. The country has 154 saliferous rivers, 61 of which flow from the southern slope of the Greater Caucasus and are most dangerous. Some 200 settlements in 30 districts of the country with a population of more than 1.5 million people and numerous infrastructure are at risk of mudflows and floods. In recent years, sedimentation in the channel and the delta of the Kur River happened, so in wet years the river does not provide the full pass into the sea.

The main cause of recent events - the flood in the Kur and other rivers are called the heavy rains, that is the most dangerous, transient of all the least predictable natural phenomenon that is difficult to accurately predict. These problems require the adoption of new well-known ways of solving the main problem: how to take into account the positive impact of floods (especially in arid and semi-arid climate), extract maximum benefit from this and use the flood plain area in the context of economic development and in this case to reduce the social, environmental and economic risks.