Flood Risk and Its Mitigation in Semera-Logiya to Afambo Areas of Afar Region

The PSI and MoWE Flood Research Team, which have conducted research on flood risk and its mitigation in the Semera-Logiya to Afambo areas of the Afar Region, held an internal validation workshop on August 3, 2023, at PSI.


During the internal validation workshop, H.E. Prof. Beyene Petros, General Director of PSI, said flood risk and its mitigation in Ethiopia is a significant concern due to the country's geographical characteristics, climate patterns, and vulnerability to heavy rainfall. Ethiopia experiences recurrent flooding events, particularly during the rainy seasons, which can lead to loss of life, displacement of communities, damage to infrastructure, and economic losses.

To address the issue of flood risk, Ethiopia has implemented various mitigation measures. H.E. Prof. Beyene said the government has established early warning systems to monitor weather patterns, river levels, and rainfall forecasts. This enables timely dissemination of information to vulnerable communities, allowing them to take necessary precautions and evacuate if required. Mapping flood-prone areas and implementing zoning regulations help in identifying high-risk areas and guiding land-use planning and development. This helps to minimize the exposure of communities and infrastructure to flood hazards.

H.E. Prof. Beyene also emphasized that constructing and improving infrastructure, such as dams, reservoirs, embankments, and drainage systems, helps in managing and diverting floodwaters. These structures are designed to store excess water during heavy rainfall and release it gradually, reducing the risk of downstream flooding. Implementing reforestation programs and practicing watershed management techniques, such as terracing, agroforestry, and soil conservation, help in reducing soil erosion and improving water retention capacity. This reduces the volume and intensity of runoff during rainfall, mitigating flood risk.

H.E. Prof. Beyene also noted that engaging local communities in flood risk reduction efforts is crucial. This involves community awareness programs, training on disaster preparedness and response, and participatory planning for flood management. It empowers communities to take proactive measures to protect themselves against floods. He noted that Ethiopia collaborates with international organizations, donor agencies, and neighboring countries to enhance flood risk management. This includes sharing information, expertise, and resources for better preparedness and response to transboundary flood events.

Finally, H.E. Prof. Beyene underscored that flood risk and its mitigation in Ethiopia require a multi-faceted approach involving government initiatives, community involvement, and international cooperation. By implementing effective measures, Ethiopia aims to reduce the impact of floods, protect lives and livelihoods, and promote sustainable development in flood-prone regions.

The presenter of the research, Dr. Mekonnen, states that flood disasters caused by heavy rains, overflowing rivers, broken dams, and lack of urban drainage have become a global concern. It is mentioned that several Asian and African countries have experienced damaging floods, resulting in significant economic losses. Ethiopia is also experiencing increasing flooding disasters, although the situation is considered less catastrophic compared to some other countries. The study focuses on the zone-one of the Afar regions in the lower Awash Basin, where flooding hazards are prevalent.

The research highlights the problems caused by floods in the lower Awash Basin, including threats to life, displacement of communities, damage to assets and infrastructure, and limitations on investments. Despite the land being fertile and suitable for mechanized agriculture, the risk of flooding hinders investment opportunities.

The research emphasizes the potential for even more disastrous challenges in the future due to climate change, increasing human activity, and loss of vegetation. It refers to a report by WRI (2015), which predicts a global increase in the number of people affected by river floods from 21 million in 2015 to 54 million in 2030. Given these circumstances, the study aims to analyze the flood risk in the lower Awash Basin of the Afar region and propose lasting solutions to mitigate the impact of floods.

The study seeks to understand the socio-economic situation of households in the study area, investigate the flood hazard and its risks to communities and farms, estimate flood quantity and identify areas prone to inundation, determine the potential irrigable area, and propose short, medium, and long-term solutions to mitigate flood risk.

The research methodology involves descriptive analysis of quantitative and qualitative socio-economic data, flood modeling using satellite data and river flow estimation, interviews with households and institutional representatives, and focus group discussions.

The results of the study indicate that floods are perceived as a major threat by households, discouraging investment in irrigation. The constraint of flood risk has resulted in only a small portion of the irrigable land being utilized. Furthermore, floods have caused significant losses in assets, livestock, and crops, as well as displacement of communities. The existing measures to tackle floods are found to be temporary rather than long-lasting.

The flood modeling results suggest that increased flooding is primarily caused by heavy rainfall and runoff from various rivers in the region, with the main canal and riverbank breaking practices exacerbating the effects of floods. The study also highlights the need for an improved information system for flood emergencies.

Based on the findings, the study provides several recommendations. It emphasizes the need for long-lasting constructions at flood-prone areas, coordination among stakeholders, and the implementation of lasting solutions to protect infrastructure and promote rural and urban development.

The research also suggests short-term measures such as canal management and maintenance, as well as the operation of Tendaho farms, and medium to long-term measures such as watershed management and water transfer during high flows. It also emphasizes the need for an improved precautionary information system for floods, including the use of alarm sirens.

In conclusion, the study aims to address the flood risk in the Semera-Logiya to Afambo areas of the Afar Region by conducting a situational analysis, proposing lasting solutions, and contributing to the development of the region by converting the catastrophic flood into opportunities.

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