WIT Press

Flood Risk Management In French Mediterranean Basins


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F. Vinet


After severe flash floods that caused many fatalities a few years ago in the Mediterranean regions of France, the French government decided to help local authorities to reduce flood risk. Through the example of small basins in southern France, this paper shows the principles and the practises involved in mitigating flood risk. The flood risk management plans, established by river basin authorities, are subsidized both by the central government and by local authorities. They illustrate the progressive change of philosophy in flood management policy. The principles of flood risk management have changed through history from structural measures (dikes, embankments, dams) to non-structural methods (e.g., land-use planning, preparedness measures, reduction of vulnerability, early-warning systems, human collective memory and public awareness). The flood risk management policies are thus politically and technically integrated. This paper points out some of the reasons that can explain the success or the failure of flood risk reduction in a river basin. It shows how partisan politics can be an obstacle to the implementation of such plans. The last challenge is to evaluate the positive and negative effects of the flood-mitigation policies. This work finishes by proposing some indicators to evaluate the real effects of flood reduction. Keywords: flash floods, flood management plans, Mediterranean basins, dikes. 1 Introduction For twenty years, a change of paradigm in flood risk management has been spreading in many countries. This shift has been late in France (Pottier et al. [1]). Recent dramatic floods, revealing the failure of previous flood management policies, have obliged national and local authorities to change their point of


flash floods, flood management plans, Mediterranean basins, dikes.