The workshop, which took place in the city hall of Prague 9 on May 18, 2017 under the patronage of the Minister of Agriculture Mr. Jurečka and the Minister of Environment Mr. Brabec, was the ninth one from a series on "Prevention of catastrophes – protection of inhabitants and environment“, organized during the last five years.
The workshop was devoted to two urgent problems – drought and floods. As the previous workshops, this event was organized by the Czech Association for Environmental Care and the Czech National Committee for Disaster Reduction. More than 80 specialists from the state and public administration and crisis management, non-governmental organizations and specialists from industry and education participated.
While drought and floods differ by their features, prevention and protection measures against negative impact of these catastrophes have many common elements. While drought are slow onset events, they require advance preparation and can draw on the experience from floods that have affected the country in the past.
Several drought periods in recent years have led to increase protection and prevention from drought impact. Fulfillment of governmental resolution No. 620 (2015) for “Preparation of realization of measures to lower negative impacts of drought and lack of water” has accelerated this process. Many measures specified in this resolution have already been implemented. However, most of the measures have a conceptual character only.
The program of the workshop, faciliated by Ivan Obrusník, focused on current situation and operational activities during the drought and flood episodes. It also showcased the creation of forecasts and graded warnings for drought and floods (including flash floods), how the warnings are disseminated, how we can understand these events, how to respond, where how to find information sources (web pages, dissemination on the line from Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (CHMI) through Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) to cities and villages).
Activities of important parts of crisis management and integrated rescue system were also described. Another part of the program was devoted to the activities of the ministries of environment and agriculture important for protection against floods and drought and responsible for the implementation of a great number of measures specified in the governmental resolution No. 620. Water management authorities also play also important role in flood and drought prevention. Presentations also showed the activities of FRS to disseminate warnings from CHMI and its cooperation with other components of the integrated rescue system. The final part of the program concentrated on practical experience with handling flood and drought situation in cities – namely in Prague and Beroun.
The program of the workshop covered 8 lectures:
Participants in the workshop stressed the importance of preparedness for both drought and floods, noting that most of the measures, especially the long-term ones, are common for both extremes. The participants also agreed that the recent activities of the government for prevention of drought like governmental resolution No. 620 from 29.7.2015 contributed to the intensification of efforts in prevention.
However, a novel of so-called Water Act covering drought and measures against this extreme is a very urgent goal. Connection with climate change and adaptation measures has also been mentioned. Crisis management authorities have less experience with protection against drought than against floods and it is urgent to devote more efforts in this direction. It is necessary to develop a system with warnings for different levels of drought, plans and special commissions for drought management at all levels, restrictions on the use of water during drought periods, better understanding and education of the public and communities administration to the measures against drought as well as appropriate trainings. It is also desirable to develop better forecasting and warnings for drought (it is more difficult than in the case of floods). The participants also stressed the importance of long-term measures especially in agriculture towards the use of better technologies and procedures ensuring retention of water in soil, the use of smaller size of fields with ridges, etc.
The importance of research and special projects devoted to drought and floods prevention was also mentioned. It is also necessary to move from creation of documents with strategies and conceptions to proposals of practical measures awith proper financing.
Finally, the participants also mentioned the important role of people towards prevention and preparedness without relying too much (or only) on governmental and municipal support. They also agreed the workshop was very useful and can serve as a good example of improvement of education in the important field of disaster prevention.
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