Background: Heavy rains and floods have caused large mudslides in south-eastern Brazil. The floods have not only caused damage to human life, which totals around 500 deaths so far, but also thousands have been made homeless and key infrastructure has been destroyed.
IUCN says well-managed floodplains and good urban planning can help reduce the impact of disasters such as flooding. Illegal construction, deforestation and unregulated housing has been blamed in part for the devastating effects of the flooding in Brazil, hitting in particular poorer people occupying these risk areas.
In Brazil, loss of life due to flooding and mudslides has caused huge devastation to suburbs surrounding cities, leading to growing accusations of irresponsible planning by city authorities.
Ecosystems provide the natural infrastructure needed to help control heavy erosion caused by flooding, and good land management and planning practices can help in maintaining natural watershed and floodplain areas as important water stores during flood events.
Wetlands and natural river channels can help in reducing the impact of large floods by slowing water flows down and storing water as buffers to control flood peaks.
“The time of reconstruction will also be an opportunity to prevent future vulnerabilities to natural calamities by investing in well-managed ecosystems and floodplains,” says James Dalton, Water Management Advisor, IUCN Water Programme. “It is important to better understand the risks to people and infrastructure in watershed areas, especially where ecosystems are degraded, contributing to the powerful effect of flooding.”
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