A number of flood mitigation measures have been identified to address recurring flood in the Ba and Rakiraki Rivers by the experts from the Dutch Disaster Risk Reduction mission from the Kingdom of Netherlands who had been in Fiji on scoping mission since 17th to 28th August 2019.
While presenting the final report to the Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment and the stakeholders at the Ba Town Council Hall in Ba yesterday, the team presented its findings, which consists of a combination of hard and soft measures that need to be implemented in an integrated manner to alleviate flooding issues in the two rivers.
The Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy while addressing the stakeholders and the representative of the communities, highlighted that upper catchment planning and activities like retaining water in the upper catchment are vital for flood mitigation in the lower catchment and essentially in the floodplains.
Minister Reddy further reiterated a multi-layered safety approach is vital for the flood mitigation with nature-based solutions combined with hard and soft measures to alleviate flooding in the Ba and Rakiraki River.
“A hydrodynamic model of the Ba catchment will be used for evaluation of flood mitigation options. The model will include rainfall distribution scenarios and corresponding design floods.
“To address the flood issues for the Ba towns and the surrounding communities a set of integrated interventions (including conceptual designs) to mitigate floods is recommended which consists of a mix of three individual interventions: dredging upstream and downstream of the Kings Road Bridge, refurbishment of the Kings Road Bridge and floodplain lowering next to the bridge.
Some interventions identified for Ba included dredging, widening of the river into the flood plains, and re-assessing Ba Bridge and its dynamics during floods. “We need to give more room to the river and above intervention are aimed at increasing the through-flow during peak events”, he said.
For Rakiraki, the team lauded the river improvement works undertaken by the Ministry of Waterways and Environment in 2018 and firmly believes that routine maintenance de-silting of Nakauvadra creek coupled with sediment traps are a way forward.
The team had earlier visited both Ba and Rakiraki towns, where they engaged with local stakeholders to better understand the situation for informed interventions.
A representative from the local community in Ba Mr Sanjay thanked the government for allowing the general public to be part of this consultation.
“After its establishment, the Ministry has assisted so many communities and villagers in Fiji and now it gives a great opportunity for the people of Ba and Rakiraki to be part of this consultation and to learn how we can adapt to this changing climate.
“We are thankful to the government for the great public consultancy to allow the communities and the general public to give their views regarding the two Rivers as flooding is always a risk during continuous rainfall,” he said.
He added that the communities and villagers should take climate change seriously and consider the importance of re-forestation and good agricultural practices in the farming communities.