The 4th Asia-Netherlands Water Learning Week, held at UNESCO-IHE last week, provided a wealth of information for the participants on a wide range of topics, all related to the theme of Water-related Disasters and Climate Change. The presentations throughout the week provided the opportunity to explore and discuss disaster risk management in a broader global framework, since participants came from eight different Asian countries.
Role of communities in decision making
Countries were able to benefit from hearing about experiences of the Netherlands in coping with water conditions inherent to the country, and approaches and initiatives of the Asian Development Bank and UNESCO-IHE on climate change, costs and impacts of climate change and flood risks.
Presentations were given on innovations to create resilient cities; ICT-based observatories; flood tags on social media, as well as the formal education and courses offered on flood risk managemen.
A theme running through the presentations, was the important role of the communities, as stakeholders, in decision making surrounding water management and averting flood risk, as they are able to provide real time data on the ground. The role of social media is also important, and has brought about a changing perspective on floods and other water related disasters, with new ways of collecting information, analyzing data, and disseminating information both to citizens and to policy makers.
During the week, the group made several visits to water related organisations, including Deltares, Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier, Rotterdam Municipality, the 'Room for the River' project in Noordwaard/Biesbosch and to the Water Board of Delfland.
There was plenty of time for the participants to focus on the water challenges of their own country, facilitated and advised by staff from UNESCO-IHE and Deltares. Subjects included Water Supply & Sanitation in Armenia; Bangladesh Flood and Erosion Risk Management; Kolkata Environmental Improvement Investment Program and Green Cities in Indonesia.
The week culminated with each working group presenting the key lessons they had learned, an action plan and follow-up activities once they return home.