Two day workshop successfully completed in Cairo on 27 and 28 January 2019

By  Prof. Dr. Chris Zevenbergen

Egyptian cities such as Cairo, Alexandria and Damietta are increasingly affected by floods. This holds true for both the number of fatalities and economic damage. Historical rainfall data show an upward trend of the frequency of intense rainfall. The same is observed for storm surges along the coastline of Alexandria and Damietta. At the same time Egyptian cities are rapidly expanding of which a significant fraction lacks proper planning resulting in a malfunctioning or even absence of an urban drainage system.

Under the patronage of the Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Development, H.E. dr. Mostafa Madbouly, a two days workshop has been held to bring together representatives of Egyptian Cities and national and international experts to discuss the challenges of what strategic actions are required to reverse the trend of increasing flood impacts.

One of the cities which is considered a vanguard city in this respect is Alexandria. Alexandria has experienced a disastrous flood in November 2015 and as a response to this flood disaster Anticipatory Flood Management Alexandria (AFMA) project has started in 2018. AFMA aims to enhance Alexandria’s capacity to anticipate and reduce impact of extreme rainfall. It focusses on both short-term actions (such as the installation of an Early Warning System)) and the development of a long-term strategy. During the workshop the AFMA concept and progress have been presented and discussed.

The workshop concluded with the following recommendations.

  • There is an urgent need to have an understanding of the flood risk of Egyptian cities. Each city has its own geomorphological and hydrological characteristics. Hence, there is no ‘one size fits for all’ solution. A better understanding of the current and future flood risk is needed to develop an emergency plan and master plan. These plans are urgently needed in each Egyptian city to also constrain further uncontrolled planning and construction.
  • Floods cannot be avoided, but we can be better prepared for extreme rainfall events. Design for exceedance is needed for our urban drainage systems. The same holds to enforce building codes which support water sensitive urban design.
  • Alexandria could play a role in the accelerated uptake of best practices in storm water management. Knowledge transfer should be fostered through city-to-city learning activities.
  • As the demand for well trained, multidisciplinary engineers and planners is rapidly increasing it is animmediate imperative to develop curricula at Egyptian universities in the areas of flood risk management and urban planning that fosters   the linkage between the two.
  • International collaboration should be further extended to further support the above.

AFMA was well represented in this strategic two day workshop at all the levels. AFMA teamleader Prof. Dr. Chris Zevenbergen from IHE Delft gave the speech on the need for flood management in Egypt. AFMA Partner leader Prof. Dr. Rifaat Abel Wahaab from HCWW was the key person in organising this strategic workshop and was instrumental in drafting the workshop recommendations to the Prime Minister on the actions to be taken regarding adapting to flooding in Egypt. Prof. Dr. Hosam Moghazy, the Partner leader from Alexandria Business Association gave a succinct presentation on the climate change and water resource setting in Egypt. AFMA’s primary beneficiary and stakeholder is Alexandria Sanitation and Drainage Company (ASDCO). Eng. General. Mohammed Nafae, presented the anticipatory actions taken by ASDCO in the event of a 48 hour flood warning.

At the tactical level AFMA’s national coordinator Dr. Mohammed Khalil Hassan from HCWW presented a detailed historical and contemporary overview of flooding in Egypt. AFMA’s lead coordinator Dr. Mohanasundar Radhakrishan from IHE Delft gave a talk on the flexible adaptation planning process that helps in implementing and sustaining the strategic actions over a long period spanning multiple decades. Dr. Biswa Battacharya from IHE who is incharge of Flood Managment Unit development and implementation in Alexandria presented the progress in developing flood models and forecast systems in Alexandria. About 10 operational level staff comprising Engineers, Planners and Administrators from ASDCO were also present during the workshop and contributed to the discussions.

More information in Arabic rearding the workshop can be found in the following webpages