In the aftermath of the recent flooding in Riyadh in mid November where several people died, the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) have announced a three year plan to develop better flood protection and resilience.
Jeddah embarked on a similar project a few years ago, involving the construction of dams, drainage canals and setting up a central Jeddah crisis management centre, with 16 local “on the ground” centres and various neighbourhoods of the city. The whole flood defence system in Jeddah is due for completion in 2014.
The new Riyadh flood defences will include 31 different projects in 20 separate locations across various parts of the city. The projects include the construction of flood canals, renovating Wadi Al-Sulay, building of dams and levees, plus a review of the entire storm drainage system in the city. There are also plans to prevent developers constructing buildings in flood plains, and dumping waste in the city’s valleys.
These announcements come at a time when many of the city’s residents were questioning the flood resilience and infrastructure of Riyadh. After the November floods, collapsed bridges, damaged roads, tunnels and buildings left citizens complaining of ageing and poorly constructed infrastructure, despite the fact that in 2011 the government had pledged $130 billion in new public spending for roads and infrastructure. Even if this money has been spent, it seems flooding resilience was hardly taken into account, at least in the Riydah area. Jeddah seems to have faired much better, although the new flood drainage system there may yet face stiffer tests.