Strengthening Integrated Flood Risk Management

Date: 2019 – 2021
Location: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Vietnam
Client: Asian Development Bank                                                                                                                    Partner: Landell Mills Ltd

We are working in association with Landell Mills Ltd on behalf of the Asian Development Bank to provide technical assistance to strengthen the design and implementation of Integrated Flood Risk Management (IFRM) solutions, enhancing knowledge, and the application of IFRM strategies in seven developing member countries (DMC): Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Vietnam.


“Asia and the Pacific faces increasing risks from water-related disasters such as floods, droughts, rainstorms, storm surge and landslides. Increasingly frequent and severe floods, combined with rapid economic growth and urbanization along rivers and in coastal areas, have caused significant loss of life and damage.”

Strengthening IFRM Project Factsheet, April 2019

“In 2016 alone, Asia reported losses worth $87 billion from disasters of which many are flood-related.”

ADB Project Data Sheet

The scale of flood risk in many countries is now so great that no single solution, such as erecting a flood protection wall, will provide a sustainable level of resilience. It’s increasingly recognised that piecemeal approaches are not the best flood risk management solutions since they can create inequalities, contribute to ecological degradation, and may be inflexible. What is needed is often described as a ‘many eggs in many baskets’ approach, and this is where Integrated Flood Risk Management (IFRM) comes to the forefront.


Integrated Flood Risk Management (IFRM) is the development of long-term sustainable flood risk strategies. We are working in partnership with Landell Mills Ltd to provide technical assistance to the seven developing member countries (DMC), specifically for program and project preparation, and promoting more holistic IFRM solutions including basin-scale and nature-based solutions. The project outcomes are as follows:

• Practical Guide to Implementing IFRM
• Extensive stakeholder engagement with each DMC to support knowledge transfer in a local context and deliver maximum benefits
• Enhanced Engagement Tool to convey the concepts of IFRM, and to facilitate innovative workshops and collaborative thinking
• Sector analysis reports to examine the flooding vulnerability and exposure in the eight DMC areas, and to evaluate the effectiveness of current flood risk management strategies and government policies
• Optioneering analysis to determine long lists of potential IFRM solutions that could improve flood resilience in each DMC areas, while achieving social and environmental benefits
• Provision of support to future ADB investment projects through the integration of IFRM into concept papers.

Extensive Stakeholder Engagement

In February 2020 delegates from the seven DMCs took part in a stakeholder engagement workshop hosted by the Asian Development Bank in Manila, and run by JBA Consulting and Landell Mills Ltd.

This was the first event to bring together representatives from all seven participating countries. The aims were to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with IFRM, using real-life in-country experiences and projects. Also, to address the challenges of capacity building, training and up-skilling in the areas of flood risk management.

The workshops were very interactive using digital technology and sandbox demonstrations. All seven countries are already working to a high level of understanding and ambition in respect of IFRM and are determined to make IFRM a success while recognising both the challenges and the opportunities.

Key challenges were identified in the following areas:

• Data and technology: Challenges in accessing good quality data and analytics on IFRM, and how to manage this data
• Institutional: Challenges around knowledge capacity, upskilling and training people in the specialist areas of flood risk
• Prioritisation: Challenges in balancing both the green and grey infrastructure solutions, how to prioritise short term pressures for quick fixes alongside longer-term solutions and goals.

Enhanced Engagement Tool – how does it work?

A number of enhanced engagement approaches are being implemented which are used to analyse and understand flood risk, and to communicate and build capacity and knowledge. The first of these is a Local-Scale Integrated Flood Risk Management analysis tool. We’ve developed a digital demonstration platform using a theoretical location and presenting flood risk posed to a developed coastal area under different scenarios:

– Undefended coastline and rivers
– Same location with natural flood defence solutions
– Same location with grey flood defence solutions

The second of these engagement tools is a digital platform using real-life data from the JBA global flood model, enabling analysis of Integrated Flood Risk Management in Nepal. While this tool is also about engagement, it presents flood risk at a provincial level across the whole of Nepal under various scenarios – and enables analysis about financial losses resulting from flood risk and flood events:

– Undefended
– With hard flood defences
– With nature-based solutions

Finally, we have been using our Augmented Reality Sandbox as an enhanced engagement tool to enable practical and interactive demonstrations of flood events under different scenarios. Find out more about our Augmented Reality Sandbox here.


The development of these sustainable, long-term flood resilience strategies incorporates a whole range of solutions including engineering, disaster preparedness, insurance, and emergency response requirements, while fully considering social, economic, financial, environmental, legal and institutional aspects. Taking this more comprehensive and integrated approach at a basin-wide or catchment perspective may also include nature-based and other soft approaches to maximize net benefits from the use of flood plains – and is rapidly gaining acceptance as the only way to manage flood risk in highly vulnerable countries as climate change evolves.

Want to know more?

Funding for this work is provided by the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund. This fund supports cities by improving urban planning, designing climate resilient infrastructure and investing in projects and people. The Rockefeller Foundation and the governments of Switzerland and the United Kingdom support the fund.

For more information please contact Mark Lawless here. Discover more of our projects on our International Development webpage.


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