Azerbaijan prepares flood protection

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The government of Azerbaijan has entered into a contract with engineering consultancy Royal Haskoning and research institute Deltares, to prevent more devastating floods as experienced by the country during spring 2010. The agreement is part of an initiative of cooperation between the Netherlands and Azerbaijan that will see improvements to water management and flood protection measures.

Heavy rainfall during spring 2010, combined with a poor drainage system caused Azerbijan's rivers Araz and Kura to burst their banks. As a result large areas of the country were flooded, causing extensive damage. The rivers, which originate in the Caucasus mountains, converge and flow into the Caspian sea. Used to irrigate a dry area of Azerbaijan, the area is not prone to flooding.

Resolving to implement structural measures to bring water management and flood protection measures up to standard, the Azerbijan government has collaborated with the Netherlands to prevent flooding in this region from recurring. As a result the Dutch water authority Rijkswaterstaat - including representatives from Royal Haskoning and Deltares, has led a full scale investigation of the area.

Royal Haskoning and Deltares are developing initial ideas for solutions in partnership with the Azerbaijan ministry for water. The development of an action plan for 2011 has begun in earnest to ensure the country is prepared for spring 2011 season. A long-term programme that will examine all water management measures across the region is being developed in conjunction.

Tasks include analysis and recommendations for the technical system of rivers, dykes, dams and irrigation. A clear emphasis will also be placed on the transfer of knowledge and organisation. The ultimate aim is for local parties to assume maintenance and management of the system, which considered to be one of the most important factors for ensuring long term success of the improvement programme.

Dutch expertise Royal Haskoning and Deltares have a strong track record in flood risk management, having successfully carried out significant flood management projects in New Orleans (USA), Vietnam, Indonesia, Russia, the UK and the Netherlands.

The agreement anticipates both organisations will be involved in the development, design and implementation of Azerbijan's flood management plans for the foreseeable future. Depending on further fulfilment of the contract, the work represents a value of several million euros.

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