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Lessons learned from Khartoum flash flood impacts: An integrated assessment

Mahmood, Mohamad Ibrahim, Elagib, Nadir Ahmed, Horn, Finlay, Saad, Suhair A.G.
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.601-602 pp. 1031-1045
aquifers, cities, decision making, disasters, drainage, drainage systems, drinking water, floods, humans, interviews, meteorological data, monitoring, people, planning, rain, residential areas, risk assessment, risk perception, risk reduction, roads, surface water, urban areas, urban runoff, wastes, water quality, water supply, Sudan
This study aims at enabling the compilation of key lessons for decision makers and urban planners in rapidly urbanizing cities regarding the identification of representative, chief causal natural and human factors for the increased level of flash flood risk. To achieve this, the impacts of flash flood events of 2013 and 2014 in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, were assessed using seven integrated approaches, i.e. rainfall data analysis, document analysis of affected people and houses, observational fieldwork in the worst flood affected areas, people's perception of causes and mitigation measures through household interviews, reported drinking water quality, reported water-related diseases and social risk assessment. Several lessons have been developed as follows. Urban planners must recognize the devastating risks of building within natural pathways of ephemeral watercourses. They must also ensure effective drainage infrastructures and physio-geographical investigations prior to developing urban areas. The existing urban drainage systems become ineffective due to blockage by urban waste. Building of unauthorized drainage and embankment structures by locals often cause greater flood problems than normal. The urban runoff is especially problematic for residential areas built within low-lying areas having naturally low infiltration capacity, as surface water can rapidly collect within hollows and depressions, or beside elevated roads that preclude the free flow of floodwater. Weak housing and infrastructure quality are especially vulnerable to flash flooding and even to rainfall directly. Establishment of services infrastructure is imperative for flash flood disaster risk reduction. Water supply should be from lower aquifers to avoid contaminant groundwater. Regular monitoring of water quality and archiving of its indicators help identify water-related diseases and sources of water contamination in the event of environmental disasters such as floods. Though the understanding of risk perception by the locals is an important aspect of the decision making and planning processes, it should be advanced enough for proper awareness.