Dutch Risk Reduction Team in Myanmar

Following the extreme rainfall and subsequent floods late July and early August, the Myanmar government requested the Dutch Government for an expert judgement on improvement of their flood protection system.

Rob Steijn of consultancy firm Arcadis was leader of the Dutch Risk Reduction (DRR) team of six flood experts that visited Myanmar from 31 August till 6 September.

Extremely well documented and with great expertise,” with these words Steijn complimented his colleague civil engineers in Myanmar. “They did a remarkable job, restoring the levees in the Ayeyarwady river delta so quickly.”

The DRR-team had been asked to assess two specific situations.

One around the city of Kalaymyo where the heavy rain rapidly flooded the plains of the nearby Myittha river with water up to 7 m.

The team was also requested to investigate undermined levees and shortcut channels in meanders of the rivers and streams in the Ayeyarwady river delta.

The Dutch DRR-team spend almost all their time out in the field, together with their Myanmar colleagues, visiting weak spots in the flood defense system.

More risk-based approach

The DRR team was informed about plans to raise the dikes with some 1,5 m.

According to Steijn, the DRR-team and their counterparts discussed how to rationalize such a choice: “In the Netherlands we developed a new method to value flood safety in terms of potential economic damage and casualties. Our flood defense system is in accordance with the value that is protected.”

“We talked about such a risk-based approach for Myanmar and showed how it can be used to prioritize measures within a limited budget, or to convince decision makers that flood safety is not merely a cost,” Steijn added.

In the next weeks, the report of this first DDR-mission to Myanmar will be finalized. Depending on choices yet to be made, follow-up activities can be initiated.

The work carried out under the DRR facility is fully aligned with other cooperation initiatives between the Netherlands and Myanmar.