PSI Researchers Defended their Research Project

PSI researchers defended their research proposal titled "Flood risk and its mitigation in Semera to Asayita areas of Afar." On Thursday, January 5, 2023.

The Agriculture and Rural Development Policy Research and Studies Centre,the flood research team stated that this proposal is a current issue that needs to be addressed in order to solve the major problems of these areas.

The researchers emphasized that flood risk and its mitigation is an important issue in the Semera to Asayita areas in Afar, as these areas are prone to flooding due to their low-lying topography and proximity to water bodies. Floods can cause significant damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and the environment, and affect the lives of people living in these areas. Therefore, it is important to take steps to reduce the risk of flooding and to prepare for and respond to flood events when they occur.

The researchers added that one way to mitigate flood risk is to take structural measures such as building levees and floodwalls to protect against rising water levels. These structures can effectively prevent or reduce the impact of flooding, but they can also be costly to build and maintain. They can also have unintended consequences, such as increasing the risk of flooding in other areas when there is nowhere for the water to go.

Another approach to mitigating flood risk is through non-structural measures such as floodplain designation and land use planning. Floodplain designation involves designating flood-prone areas and establishing building codes and other regulations to ensure that new construction in these areas is flood-proofed. Land use planning involves developing policies and strategies for the use and management of land in a manner that minimizes flood risk.

In addition to structural and non-structural measures, it is also important to establish an effective flood warning and response system. This may include the use of early warning systems such as weather forecasting and flood monitoring, as well as evacuation plans and emergency protocols.

There are also several natural and green infrastructure approaches that can be used to mitigate flood risk. These include the restoration of natural floodplains and wetlands that can help absorb and store excess water and the use of green roofs and other green infrastructure measures that can help reduce the amount of stormwater runoff.

Overall, effective flood risk mitigation in the Semera to Asayita areas of Afar will require a combination of structural, non-structural, and natural measures. It also requires the participation and collaboration of a range of stakeholders, including government agencies, community organizations, and individuals. By working together, it is possible to reduce flood risk and better prepare for and respond to floods when they occur.

Dr. Mekonnen Bekele, one of the presenters of this research project and coordinator of the flood study, said that this proposal aims to provide the best recommendations among the many alternatives to solve the problems.

Dr. Mekonnen said the increasing risk of flood disasters caused by heavy rains, overflowing rivers, broken dams, urban drainage, storm surges, and tsunamis is rocking the globe. Despite the high investment potential for the cultivation of industrial raw materials and high-value crops, the flood risk in the Awash Basin is one of the obstacles for investors and communities in the area from Semera to Asayita in the Afar region.

In the interest of regional stakeholders, officials from PSI visited the crop fields and vast arable land suitable for irrigation and mechanization. Following the visit, the Afar Regional Government is calling for a study to show stakeholders the extent of flood risk in this high-potential area and to find a common solution. The study is intended to assist the Afar National  Regional Government in this direction. PSI will study the flooding problem in the area in collaboration with stakeholders and propose viable solutions based on the findings of the study.

Dr. Mekonnen said that minimizing the risk of flooding could help develop the nearly 70 thousand hectares of farmland in which there has been an insufficient investment. In addition, the study could help alleviate the challenges faced by local communities suffering from flooding in the Awash Basin. PSI has assembled a team to study flooding in the area, and the proposal was presented on January 5, 2023, in the presence of the Director General and Deputy Directors of PSI and all research staff.

During the proposal defense session, participants said that it is clear that flood risk and its mitigation is an urgent problem in the Semera to Asayita areas of Afar, and that solving this problem is important for the welfare and prosperity of the communities in these areas. The proposed research on this issue is therefore an important and timely effort, and it is encouraging to see it being conducted by the Agriculture and Rural Development Policy Research and Studies Center and the Flood Research Team. Participants also said that there are a number of potential approaches that could be pursued as part of this research, including natural and green infrastructure approaches such as the restoration of natural floodplains and wetlands and the use of green roofs and other green infrastructure measures that can also effectively mitigate flood risk.

The proposal defense participants emphasized that it will be important for researchers to consider the unique needs and circumstances of the Afar areas of Semera to Asayita when developing their research plan, and to work closely with local communities and stakeholders to ensure that research is relevant and responsive to their needs and concerns. In this way, researchers can contribute to a more comprehensive and effective approach to flood risk mitigation in these areas, which will ultimately benefit the communities living there.

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