The Vicious Circle of Corruption, Dams and Disaster

Kosi River Breaks Embankment
Kosi River Breaks Embankment Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report 2008, to which your blogger contributed a brief paper, is devoted to corruption in the water sector. It states forcefully that “corruption in the water sector puts the lives and livelihoods of billions of people at risk”. The recent flood disaster on the Kosi River in Nepal and India illustrates in a shocking way how corruption, dams and disaster feed on each other. In nature, water always flows downstream. In society, drinking and irrigation water flow to the rich and powerful, while waste water and

The Kosi Disaster: Millions Flooded Out

Photo: Chandan, greenpowerindia.org
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Photo: Chandan, greenpowerindia.org Just as Hurricane Katrina caused levees in the Mississippi Delta to breach in August 2005, flooding large parts of New Orleans, this year's monsoon has breached embankments on the powerful Kosi River, flooding out three million people and killing at least 2,000 in Bihar, India and in eastern Nepal. After breaching its embankments on August 18, the Kosi took a path it had abandoned 200 years ago, 100 km from its channeled course, drowning hundreds of villages and fields in its way. Experts note that this year's monsoon was not especially power

Notables Inundaciones Inducidas por Represas

Thursday, May 31, 2007
2007 "Represas, Ríos y Gente" Informe (DRP) Italia, octubre del 1963: La represa Vaiont, una de las más altas del mundo, produjo terremotos tan pronto comenzaron a llenar su embalse. Un temblor produjo derrumbes que cayeron al embalse, creando un enorme oleaje que superó a la represa en 110 metros. Unos dos minutos más tarde, se arrasó la población de Longarone, causando la muerte de casi todos sus 2000 habitantes. China, agosto del 1975: Por lo menos unas 230.000 personas murieron en un colapso estilo dominó de represas del río Huai - unas 85.000 en los ole

As barragens representam perigo de cheias num planeta em aquecimento

Friday, February 22, 2008
Num período em que Moçambique enfrenta as piores cheias desde a independência, o Presidente Guebuza afirma que a solução é construir mais barragens. No entanto, as barragens são tão boas quanto os seus operadores, desenhistas e técnicos de manutenção – e nenhum destes foram particularmente bons em Kariba. E não existe nenhuma garantia que as barragens que já possuímos sejam capazes de suportar um clima em constante mudança. As nações do Zambeze devem aprender com os erros das outras nações e adoptar um conjunto de técnicas mais flexível, efectivas e sofisticadas, de for

Norway in Laos: Ruining Rivers, Damaging Lives

Monday, November 26, 2007
Norway's state-owned power utility, Statkraft, has ruined the ecology of two rivers in Laos and the livelihoods of 30,000 people, reveals a newly-released report: Ruined Rivers, Damaged Lives. The report, commissioned by FIVAS, a Norwegian advocacy group, exposes the mounting social and environmental toll of the Theun-Hinboun Hydropower Project in the decade since it was completed. The Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) is co-owned by Statkraft, a Thai power company and the Lao government. The FIVAS investigation details increasingly severe flooding along the Hai and Hinboun Rivers over the la

A Dam-Made Disaster: How large dams and embankments have worsened flooding in India

This article by Himanshu Thakkar, the Coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, was first published in "Before the Deluge" the 2007 Dams, Rivers and Peoples report by International Rivers. It describes how floods and embankments have worsened floods and even caused floods in India, instead of preventing them. The author also describes a way forward that consists of a comprehensive flood management program, including flood coping mechanisms and flood-preparedness.

Dams and Levees Heighten Flood Danger in a Warming World

Sunday, July 29, 2007
This op-ed first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, July 29, 2007 Floods are the most destructive, most frequent and most costly natural disasters on Earth. And they're getting worse. Large parts of central and western England are underwater in the worst flooding in 60 years. Insurers estimate the damage could reach $6 billion -- on top of the $3 billion in flood losses suffered in northern England in June. Over the past two months, the monsoon season in Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan has, conservatively, claimed hundreds of lives. Texas has suffered major flood damage, a

Wrong Climate for Damming Rivers

Hurricane Katrina, Category 5 Storm, Aug. 28, 2005
Proponents of large dams are hoping to capitalize on concern for climate change, and are promoting a major expansion of hydropower dams on critical rivers in developing countries. But it's the wrong climate for a dam-building boom. Big dams are at huge risk from climate change's impacts on river flows. Healthy rivers are also key to successful climate adaptation. And large reservoirs can be significant sources of greenhouse gases.

Flood Management: The Soft Path

New Orleans under water, 2005. Photo: FEMA
Floods are the most destructive, most frequent and most costly natural disasters on earth. Damages continue to soar despite huge expenditures on flood control structures. Dams and levees can never be fail-proof, and when they fail, they do so spectacularly. Climate change is expected to dramatically increase flood risk. "Soft-path" flood risk management seeks to respond to hydrological changes rather than control them. It is based on an understanding that all floods are not inherently bad – indeed, floods are essential for the health of riverine ecosystems.

Hundreds Forced to Flee Homes as Merowe Dam Reservoir Waters Rise Without Warning

Thursday, August 10, 2006
Civil society demands an end to impoundment and resolution of resettlement issues as fears of violence increase LONDON: More than 100 families were suddenly forced to abandon their homes on August 7 because of rising flood waters after the authorities at the Merowe Dam in Sudan unexpectedly closed the dam’s gates and began filling its reservoir. No warning was given of the impending flooding. The families, all from the Amri people, have been left without food or shelter. Six other villages are threatened with imminent inundation. Villagers from around the area are trying to provide fo


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