WSG-52306 Disaster-Proof Water Management


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Excursion (one day)7
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. JM van Loon-Steensma
Lecturer(s)dr. RWA Hutjes
prof. dr. C Kroeze
dr. JF Warner
dr. ir. JM van Loon-Steensma
Examiner(s)dr. ir. JM van Loon-Steensma

Language of instruction:


Continuation courses:

SDC-34306 Conflict, Development and Disaster; SDC-34806 Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction; SDC-52306 Urban Disaster Governance (taught in same period).


Water-related disasters like floods (coastal, river and urban floods) and droughts are among the most frequently occurring natural disaster events and account for the majority of disastrous events (next to windstorms). The occurrence of disastrous floods and droughts is expected to increase with a changing climate, with the IPCC predicting these water-related disasters to increase in both frequency and severity, as the whole global water cycle is affected by climate change. Besides such water quantity related disasters (too much or too little water), many locations worldwide suffer from increasing problems with water quality, especially in Deltaic areas. Deltaic areas are low-lying coastal areas where large rivers drain the water collected from (often extensive) inland catchments areas into the sea. Here water quantity (coastal flooding, river flooding, urban flooding, groundwater level, cooling water for energy production) and water quality (drinking water, and ecological quality of river water and coastal seas) problems come together and reinforce each other, exacerbated by rapid urbanisation, economic development, and climate change.
Water management is thus key in disaster risk reduction and building resilience.
This course addresses disaster-proof water management with the disaster risk reduction cycle (DRR cycle) and integrated flood management (IFM) as point of departure. The course focuses on flood risk and delves into different risk strategies to prevent (e.g. different types of flood defences, building restrictions, insurance), to prepare (making of emergency plans, raising awareness, early warning and communication systems, insurance), to respond (e.g. evacuation) on coastal, river and urban floods, and to recover from disasters. Attention will be paid to the Dutch flood risk strategy and to nature-based solutions. Furthermore, attention will be paid to recovery strategies following the disaster response, including the balance between incidental recovery and structural rehabilitation. Furthermore, flood risk strategies of different (developed and developing) countries are compared, and related to differences in geophysical, socio-economic, and political background.
Besides the impact of climate change on flood risk, attention will be paid to the impact of climate change on droughts, and how to prepare and to respond on drought events. In view of this, the potential (and limitations) of climate services will be explained for the Horn of Africa. Climate services involve the use of global and regional climate models to predict drought events and to inform governments and farmers about foreseen drought risks, which offers opportunities to timely respond.
Water quality related risks will be explained by examples from coastal cities, in Asia for instance. The fast economic development in many Asian countries results amongst others in a rapid increase of industrial and agricultural production. Because often untreated water is disposed in rivers, this leads to the pollution of many rivers by, for instance, excess nutrients. Transport of these pollutants by river to coastal waters may result in several pollution problems, such as blooms of harmful algae and oxygen depletion.
The course will take an international perspective with examples from e.g. the Netherlands, Europe (for instance Germany, UK and France), USA, Africa, and Asia (for instance China and Indonesia), paying attention to technical approaches and institutional arrangements and the importance of attuning design and practices to the context.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand and analyse the principles and practices of the disaster risk reduction cycle and integrated flood management;
- analyse and to understand disaster risk reduction strategies drawing on insights on the origins and impacts of hydrological extremes;
- analyse and compare risk reduction strategies of different (developed and developing) countries, and to related this to differences in geophysical, socio-economic, and political background;
- understand and analyse the importance of contextual elements in the design and implementation of flood risks strategies and IFM;
- understand and analyse how socio-institutional and technical dimensions of risk and crisis management interact;
- analyse and develop proposals for risk prevention, resilient spatial planning, preparedness and recovery with a view to enhancing resilience against hydrological extremes.


Classroom lectures with active participation of the students; use of audio-visual material and assignments, supervised study and tutorial, excursion.


- written test with open questions (60%);
- case study report (30%);
- active participation during lessons and case study (10%).


Will be made available at start of course.

Compulsory for: WUDIRBSc Minor Disaster and Recovery6AF