Flash Floods: Alternative Management Options in Kulob City, Tajikistan

BY EDM | 01 APR 2017
Case study on managing flash floods in Tajikistan
The city of Kulob, located in south-center Tajikistan, is an area extremely vulnerable to flash flooding. Typically, between March and May, a combination of heavy rainfall and snow melt flow into normally dry rivers and gullies. Paved streets, dense housing, and the growth of urban areas into the hills above the city make flash flood management in Kulob a significant challenge.

The flooding problem led the city government to approach UNDP Tajikistan for assistance in constructing new channels to reduce flood risk. A technical review of the project indicated that managing the maximum flood volume from the source watershed would require very large, and very expensive, concrete channels. After several site visits and discussions with local authorities, the idea of reducing flood risk by retaining water upstream was proposed.

The project required installation of four, meter-high gabion dams upstream to retain floodwaters, thus reducing the downstream flood surge. The permeability of the dams would allow floodwaters to drain over time; the dams also had gates to release excess water and prevent standing water from accumulating. The retention areas were planted with 1,000 fruit trees, both for livelihood benefits and to prevent people from building between the dams.

The project, completed in 2014, demonstrates an alternative approach to hard engineering for flash flood management in the urban Kulob area. The project team identified four important points to consider when implementing nontraditional flood management projects:




The Kulob flood retention project could be replicated elsewhere in Tajikistan and in other countries with similar flood hazards. In Tajikistan, the most significant challenge to replication is the longstanding practice of using hard methods to manage floodwaters. The cost of constructing channels that can handle maximum flow, however, is beyond local government means and may not be the most appropriate solution. The lower cost and multiple benefits of an additional or alternative approach may be appropriate and feasible.

Additional information on the Kulob project can be secured from UNDP Tajikistan via an email to [email protected] Information on the 2010 flooding can be found in REACT Flood Appeal for East, Khatlon, Tajikistan. REACT Tajikistan. Dushanbe 19 May, 2010.

Case study based on:

UNDP Tajikistan staff report from the Kulob area office, 2014.



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