- Richard Brittan
Parwan Floods Explained
Part 1 - Risk
The risk of flooding to the city of Charikar in Parwan Province, Afghanistan was known and well documented. However, it would seem that proposals to build check dams in specific locations in the upper watersheds threatening Charikar city were not taken forward. Had they been implemented, the risk of the catastrophic flooding, subsequent loss of life and damage to property would have been mitigated to some degree. Instead, in the early hours of August 26th, torrential rain fell in these upper watersheds, high above the residential quarters of the town. This rain accumulated to torrents of water that cascaded and gushed through the streets of the city. Media reports suggest that over 100 people died and over 500 buildings were destroyed in this catastrophic flash flooding event. If appropriate measures had been put in place, including the use of check dams, then this disaster might well have been averted, potentially saving many lives and homes.
Part 2 - Vulnerability
There are a series of watersheds to the west of the city that directly threaten Charikar with flash flooding. The potential outflow of water being channelled from one of these watersheds is shown in this image in blue. The red dots denote domestic compounds present in 2014. The white dots denote domestic compounds present in 2019. There are 2,251 compounds within this blue flood risk area, where nearly 1,500 domestic compounds have been built in this area in the last 6 years. The unregulated and uncontrolled selling of land and the granting of permission for the construction of properties in these flood risk areas led to many feeling they were safe to build there. Many had little idea they were so vulnerable until devastating flash flooding hit their homes on August 26th. Many are now asking how so many people, potentially over 50,000, have been allowed to build their homes in such vulnerable areas.
Part 3 – Disaster
People living in houses built in flood risk areas are naturally highly vulnerable to flooding. Mitigation measures, like check dams, can be put in place to reduce the risk of flooding. When no risk mitigation measures are put in place to address this vulnerability, it can be just a matter of time before disaster strikes. So it was for the 50,000 people living in houses mostly built over the last 6 years within flood risk areas to the west of #Charikar city, when flash flooding struck them. And yet proposals for the construction of check dams to mitigate this risk appear to have been ignored by officials. Media reports suggest that over 100 people died and over 500 buildings were destroyed in this catastrophic flash flooding event. Many are now asking how so many people have been allowed to build their homes in such vulnerable areas to the west of Charikar city. Sadly, they are not the only ones. Across Afghanistan, there are many, many vulnerable households living in areas that are at risk of flash flooding. With little in the way of flood mitigation, the risk of similar devastating flash flooding impacting other households remains very high, inviting further disasters across the country.