June 23. 2024. 8:00

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Dutch experts look at flood management in Kazakhstan


Experts in water management from the Netherlands are willing to work with their Kazakh counterparts to develop an action plan that will help prevent future floods.As a state partially located below sea level, the Netherlands has historically faced the threat of floods. For hundreds of years, the country has been building dams, canals and pumping stations, competing with water for new plots of land for life and agriculture.

Tengrinews spoke with Fredrik Huthoff, Associate Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, who arrived in Kazakhstan at the request of the Kazakh embassy in the Netherlands to study the flood situation.“The scale of the floods is a really big challenge, from which we in the Netherlands largely learn from Kazakhstan”, he said.

“The first thing we can help with is making sure that what is being done is correct. In these two days that we have been working together, we have seen that the Kazakh authorities are trying to do everything possible to cope with the situation. But one big question is whether these efforts are right”.

He noted that many flood protection structures in Kazakhstan were built a long time ago.“The world, climate, and population have changed, but these structures have not. We must learn, adapt and move with the changes in the world around us to be prepared for the next disaster scenarios”.

Fredrik Huthoff also named the main factors that caused floods in Kazakhstan. According to the expert, Kazakhstan faces a unique situation this spring. “At the beginning of winter there was no snow, this led to the freezing of the soil. Then an ice cover formed over it due to late-falling snow, which melted and froze again, and then snow fell several more times on top of it. Therefore, the water could not reach the surface , as it usually happens, and accumulated inside”, he explained.

The expert also shared his opinion on what technologies can be introduced in Kazakhstan to combat floods based on the experience of the Netherlands.“There are different sides to this. Given the scale of the problem, a lot of it has to do with planning, forecasting, knowing where and when best to focus resources in the short term. And then you can think about other solutions such as redevelopment, moving vulnerable properties out of areas that could be flooded, and the construction of structures. But these are very expensive actions that require certain studies that cannot be carried out during an emergency,” he emphasised.

According to Fredrik Huthoff, climate change affects the entire world. Warming temperatures could mean more droughts and less water. However, when water does come out, it comes in large quantities. Global experience suggests that places that stay dry longer experience more intense flooding, and the specialist warned that Kazakhstan may very likely face this again.

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