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Five feet high and rising: Cities and flooding in the 21st Century

Jha, Abhas; Lamond, Jessica; Bloch, Robin; Bhattacharya, Namrata; Lopez, Ana; Papachristodolou, Nikolaos; Bird, Alan


Abhas Jha

Jessica Lamond
Professor in Real Estate and Flood Risk Management

Robin Bloch

Namrata Bhattacharya

Ana Lopez

Nikolaos Papachristodolou

Alan Bird


Urban flooding is an increasingly important issue.
Disaster statistics appear to show flood events are
becoming more frequent, with medium-scale events
increasing fastest. The impact of flooding is driven by
a combination of natural and human-induced factors.
As recent flood events in Pakistan, Brazil, Sri Lanka and
Australia show, floods can occur in widespread locations
and can sometimes overwhelm even the best prepared
countries and cities. There are known and tested measures
for urban flood risk management, typically classified as
structural or engineered measures, and non-structural,
management techniques. A combination of measures to
form an integrated management approach is most likely
to be successful in reducing flood risk. In the short term
and for developing countries in particular, the factors
affecting exposure and vulnerability are increasing at

the fastest rate as urbanization puts more people and
more assets at risk. In the longer term, however, climate
scenarios are likely to be one of the most important
drivers of future changes in flood risk. Due to the large
uncertainties in projections of climate change, adaptation
to the changing risk needs to be flexible to a wide range
of future scenarios and to be able to cope with potentially
large changes in sea level, rainfall intensity and snowmelt.
Climate uncertainty and budgetary, institutional and
practical constraints are likely to lead to a combining of
structural and non-structural measures for urban flood
risk management, and arguably, to a move away from
what is sometimes an over-reliance on hard-engineered
defenses and toward more adaptable and incremental
non-structural solutions.

Other Type Other
Publication Date May 1, 2011
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Jha, A., Lamond, J., Bloch, R., Bhattacharya, N., Lopez, A., Papachristodolou, N., & Bird, A. (2011). Five feet high and rising: Cities and flooding in the 21st Century
Keywords urbanization, flooding, water, risk management, climate variability, natural hazards, land-use, environmental buffers, groundwater management, vulnerability, insurance
Publisher URL
Additional Information Corporate Creators : The World Bank


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