Flood Management in the Rioni River Basin
Sajavakho village residents are watching the shoreline protection works at the Rioni river banks with hope and care. The slumped off sections of the riverbank are being filled in with rock boulders and the riverbank is being widened to up to five metres deep into the water to restore the original contours of the channel and protect nearby houses from flooding.
- The Rioni river basin is one of the most flood-prone areas in Georgia.
- 200 thousand residents in six municipalities regularly suffer from floods and flash-floods.
- UNDP and the Adaptation Fund work with the Government, local authorities and communities to introduce new approaches in flood management, climate resilient economic practices and adaptation measures.
“Rioni is our constant threat. The river is widening every year getting closer to the houses. In some of the places there are hardly two or three metres left between the river channel and backyards,” says Natela Kharebava, Sajavakho resident.
Shoreline protection anchors the riverbank to safeguard people for years to come. In addition, local residents learn how to protect their homes and reduce the damage from floods by using simple and locally available solutions, such as bioengineering.
“Trenching, terracing, planting bushes and hazel-nut – all those simple methods can protect us for the coming water. We had no idea about that before,” says Nodar Khabeishvili who attended an information session on bioengineering in November 2015.
“We used to install metal nets at the river banks and reinforce them with cement to keep water away but that did not work. Agroforestry seems a much more effective and lasting solution,” he says.
The shoreline protection in Savajakho is the result of cooperation between the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Adaptation Fund. Their joint project introduces climate resilient economic practices and adaptation measures in the Rioni river basin most vulnerable to floods and extreme climate events.
- A series of research and desk studies to provide the complete and credible information about the hydro-meteorological threats in the Rioni Basin.
- Assistance in developing flood zoning policy, a Weather Index Insurance Scheme, flood resilient building codes and a Flood Forecasting and Early Warning System.
- Practical training for the local residents to introduce bioengineering and agroforestry.
The success of this initiative is based on thorough knowledge and in-depth research of the local situation that allows offering best possible solutions to the local problems.
Since 2012, the project has been supporting a series of research to collect complete and credible information about the hydro-meteorological threats in the Rioni river basin. UNDP and the Adaptation Fund also assist the Government of Georgia to introduce a combination of structural and non-structural measures in managing floods and flash-floods, develop new national policies, legislation and tools such as a flood zoning policy, a Weather Index Insurance Scheme, flood resilient building codes and a Flood Forecasting and Early Warning System which currently covers Rioni basin but can be extended to the other parts of the country under similar threats.
200 thousand residents of the Rioni basin remain the main focus of this assistance which aims to build resilience of people and reduce the risk of floods and other extreme events caused by this dangerous river.
“Hydro-meteorological threats in Georgia have become more frequent and intensive over the last 20 years as a result of climate change. To address and effectively manage these threats Georgia needs to introduce specific policies that will reduce the risk to the flood-prone areas and promote economic development of these regions,” says Nino Antadze, UNDP’s Environment and Energy Team Leader in Georgia.
Successful practices and models tested in the Rioni river basin will be expanded to the other regions of Georgia in the coming years to reduce the risk of floods and protect the lives and livelihoods of most vulnerable.