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Annual Mekong Flood Report 2011

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1. SYNOPSIS

This Annual Mekong Flood Report (AMFR) follows the established pattern since 2007 that is a review of the year’s flood conditions within the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB), supplemented by an Annual Theme. The “Theme” of this Report is “What lessons have been learnt since the extreme events of 2000, given the exceptional flooding during the course of 2011?” The text considers a comparative assessment of the damage and losses during each of the two years, the flood management and mitigation initiatives adopted since 2000, supplementary flood risk management options, the roles and responsibilities in each country and so on.

The principal development has been to devolve responsibility from the national level to the provincial and village level through education and investment, though the latter needs far more financial support. The positive, is that these short comings are appreciated and that such organizational challenges need to be addressed.

The flood events of 2011 illustrated quite clearly that flood management and mitigation in the LMB requires considerable levels of investment in data management, effective forecasting and the systematic improvement of public awareness to the risks. It is not known how many people or what proportion of the regional population is exposed directly to the dangers linked both to the annual flood on the Mekong mainstream and to flash floods in the tributary uplands. The numbers though are significant and probably increasing.

The magnitude of damage and loss reported here, during what was a relatively common situation, is far beyond a local or regional issue. The damage to the national riparian economies, not only in terms of economic loss, but probably more significantly in terms of replacement costs, is a constraint on national economic growth.

Even though this Report is addressing flood management and mitigation in the LMB, it is relevant to mention that severe flooding occurred during the 2011 monsoon season in Thailand. Beginning at the end of July triggered by the landfall of Tropical Storm NOCK-TEN, flooding soon spread through the provinces of Northern, Northeastern and Central Thailand along the Mekong and Chao Phraya river basins. In October floodwaters reached the mouth of the Chao Phraya and inundated parts of the capital city of Bangkok. Flooding persisted in some areas until mid-January 2012.