City of Dordrecht

What is your case study about?

The Island of Dordrecht is vulnerable in the event of a flood because a large part of the residents cannot leave the Island in time. Therefore, the municipality and their partners have the ambition to create a Self-reliant Island. This ambition implies that residents act safely and that critical infrastructure remains functioning during a flood. It takes shape in a spatial vision, in which De Staart plays an important role. De Staart is both a residential and industrial area, and it is located on high ground, outside the flood defences. This area can be developed as an attractive residential-work area and at the same time as a large-scale, self-sufficient shelter. The opportunity for such a development has been explored in a series of three workshops, in which experts of several organizations participated. This workshop series was organized by Rijkswaterstaat in collaboration with the municipality and the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam.

Which pillars have you focused on and why? How do you assess the pillars?

The municipality places great emphasis on involving residents and stakeholders (like businesses, social enterprises and NGOs) in flood risk management. They developed a whole-of-society strategy, which aims to connect different stakeholders to the ambition of a Self-reliant Island. Not only as consumers but also as producers of flood safety. The communication campaign ‘Ready for water’ encourages the residents of Dordrecht to make a flood safety plan in three simple steps: think of a shelter, make an emergency kit, and take care of each other. As part of the third step, they are asked to think of people who need extra help, such as the elderly and disabled.

What have been the benefits of applying those pillars?

With their ambition of a Self-resilient Island, Dordrecht is innovating in the way that flood risk is being managed. To achieve this ambition, communication activities, such as the “ready for water” campaign, were are deployed to make residents aware of the risk of flooding and of how to act. The increased awareness will likely lead to lower casualties in case of a flood event. Yet, ambition is not just about limiting the consequences. The layout of the city and its surroundings is also of key importance. The whole-system approach offers opportunities to connect flood risk management with ambitions for a growing city, like housing development and positive health.

Dordrecht is not just a city, it’s also an island. Due to its location in a transition area between the sea and major rivers, the Island of Dordrecht is very vulnerable to flooding.

Berry Gersonius

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