Urbanisation contributes to flooding, says Reddy

COMMERCIAL development and urbanisation are contributing to flooding in Fiji, says Minister for Waterways Dr Mahendra Reddy.

While speaking in Parliament on Monday, he said urban drift had also given way to informal settlements which contributed to the occurrence of floods.

“Because of urban drift, an increase in population particularly within urban councils in Fiji, new settlements including informal settlements have been built illegally specially in flood-prone zones despite knowing their danger,” he said.

“Informal settlements do not have proper amenities including proper drainage connected to bigger drainage outlets and flood retention structures which further increases flooding,” he said.

“If the river basin or flood plains has been heavily urbanised, a river becomes much more prone to flooding.

“Urbanisation involves laying down of tarmac or concrete in familiar substances to increase surface run out into the river and therefore increase the river’s discharge.

“Today, many subdivision or urban residential areas face a lot of flooding caused mainly by poor drainage, undersized drains and blocked drains caused by debris or dumped rubbish.”

He added forest degradation and deforestation also contributed to flooding.

“The Ministry of Forests identifies areas for harvesting which is classified as forest-degraded areas.

“The forest areas degraded in the last five years, is about 8000 hectares which is derived from the licensed areas for harvesting alone. This is the area where the actual hard core forests have been removed.

“The difference between forest degradation and forest deforestation is that, deforestation is the conversion of forest land into agricultural land, therefore the land is still under some kind of crop but deforestation includes activities like logging where the forest will remain but with less carbon density.”