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Set up Flood Action Groups

Disseminate flooding information via a Flood Action Group, formed by community members (flood wardens) and supported by local universities

Photo of Karn Shah
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Flooding is going to be more frequent and intense due to a changing climate. Often, it is urban slum communities that suffer the most during flood events, due to a lack of resilient housing, an absence of warning systems and no clear flood response or evacuation plan in place. Due to the ad-hoc nature of their development, it is difficult for emergency services to have clear access inside urban slums, while the "temporary" status of the residents in informal slums means that they are often overlooked by local governments when they are considering flood response options. We would like to help reduce the impact of flooding on these communities by helping them be more prepared to respond. Our idea is to bring together active community members within the slum and form Flood Action Groups. There can be involvement from local universities, government agencies and/or NGOs to provide advice on adaptation methods, response strategies and evacuation routes. The Flood Action Groups would have a core group of members that would be appointed as Flood Wardens. This core group should be made of active members of the community, as their role will be to disseminate important information and coordinate the community's response to floods. They would thus become the point of contact for any flood-related issue in the community.


The beneficiaries of this idea are the residents of the slum communities, and the local government too. There can be a knowledge transfer between universities and slum communities regarding flood risk and response. While the direct benefit of setting up Flood Action Groups is the ability of communities to better respond to floods, there are indirect benefits too, such as raising awareness of flood resilient housing, an effective system of flood alerts/warnings, and better urban planning.


This idea helps builds a strong sense of community in urban slums, by giving residents the lead in setting up response plans and making their community more resilient. The role of Flood Wardens should be given to role models within the community. This could be a good way to empower women within these communities. Although the primary reason for establishing Flood Action Groups is to improve the response of slum communities to flood events, their existence can also have a very positive impact on the day-to-day running of the community. The Flood Action Groups will be able to raise awareness of the importance of flood resilient infrastructure, which could lead to better (ad-hoc) urban planning. This would help make the community better prepared for other more long-term impacts of climate change, such as increasing urban populations. Their visibility within the community will also mean they can act as a sounding board for residents. They would be best placed to gather information about how the community perceives flood risk, what (if any) concerns they have about the impact on their homes and businesses, and how they would react in the event of a flood. This would allow the Flood Action Groups' partner organisations to tailor their advice and information to the needs of the communities that they serve. For example, these discussions could be used to sugge a more focused range of flood resilient housing solutions, harnessing the skills of the community members, the resources available to them, and their drivers for change - be it aspiration, fear, status, security, etc.


  • Yes, for one year or less


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for less than one year


  • Yes


We are a group of engineers, urban planners, hydrologists and scientists, keen to put our technical background and experience working in the developing world to good use.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rehana Merali

Hi Karn, Great idea! I think it is very important and relevant to look at the problem of floods in slums area. We see that as years go by, the slums are more and more vulnerable to floods. Recent flash flooding are also making those population even more vulnerable. I'm sure that the fact that you are engineers, urban planners and hydrologists will also allow you to bring a very strong technical eye to this matter. Good luck on your application!

Photo of Karn Shah

Thanks Rehana!

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