Meeting the threat: UNDP launches effort to reduce flood risks in the Strumica River Basin

Dec 26, 2015

Photo: UNDP/ Ljubomir Stefanov

With the cleaning of the main storm-drain channel in the town of Novo Selo, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has embarked upon a six-year programme designed to reduce the risk of flooding and improve water quality in the Strumica River Basin, which is home to 125,000 people in six largely agricultural municipalities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The CHF 2.9 million (USD 3 million) programme, called “Restoring the Health of the Strumica River Basin,” is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and implemented by UNDP.

The programme is based on a UNDP assessment that found that flooding poses the greatest single threat to the area’s population. Unsustainable farming practices and rising urban and industrial demand for water have combined to worsen fluctuations in water levels and exacerbate the risk of droughts and floods, making the Basin’s ecosystem extremely vulnerable to climate change.

The cleaning of all the major drainage canals in the Basin will be followed in early 2016 by measures to mitigate the risks of heavy flooding, including the restoration and improvement of flood-control structures, better management of local dams and reservoirs, and measures aimed at assisting local residents to take action to protect their homes and businesses from flood damage.

At the same time, UNDP will work directly with local farmers to adopt more sustainable practices in order to protect water quality and local biodiversity and maintain sufficient volume in the River. Hundreds of farmers will receive training, supported by CHF 550,000 in grants for equipment, to reduce their use of pesticides and fertilizers and implement more efficient irrigation solutions.

Click here for more info about the project.