Maria Belen Andaya-Eusebio, Mayor of Pasig City in the Philippines, is devoting much of her time to helping her city manage the risk of floods. Pasig City is one of the low lying cities in Metro Manila. It has to cope with excess water from the three surrounding waterways - Pasig River, Marikina River, and the Manggahan floodway - which makes it particularly vulnerable to flooding.
Bangladesh’s State Minister of Water Resources, Muhammad Nazrul Islam, also struggles with a delta country threatened by sea level rise and high river tides, especially in megacities like Dhaka.
The experiences of the Philippines and Bangladesh are not uncommon in Asia. Many delta cities across the region are prone to flooding, which is particularly devastating for the poorest and most vulnerable populations. Rapid urbanization, population growth and economic development expose more people, livelihoods, and assets to such risk. It is estimated that by 2025, 410 million urban dwellers in Asia will live in areas facing high risk of floods if no concrete mitigation and adaptation measures are put in place.
Although many countries in the region have made significant progress in controlling floods, new approaches are still needed.
To meet this demand for innovative knowledge, the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice recently brought decision-makers and practitioners from Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam on a study tour to the Netherlands, a key development partner with over 400 years of experience in managing water resources and protecting its population and cities from the devastating effects of flooding.
Both Minister Nazrul Islam and Mayor Andaya-Eusebio participated in the tour.
“Similarly to many cities in the Netherlands, Pasig City is a low lying city in Metro Manila. We have made progress to prevent flooding but we can learn from the Dutch experience, which could potentially benefit not only Pasig City, but the entire Metro Manila and protect a population of 12 million people,” Mayor Andaya-Eusebio noted.
Minister Nazrul Islam agreed. “The Netherlands and Bangladesh are both deltas. Our challenges are similar but also different because in Bangladesh we are talking about much larger cities of 15 million people.”