Flood forecasting system, Mamoré River

Each year, the Mamoré River in Bolivia – a major tributary of the Amazon – floods. This causes considerable damage, especially to livestock farms and villages in the area. To reduce the effects of flooding in Bolivia, the Bolivian vice ministry responsible for management of water resources and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs jointly initiated the Vivir con el Agua (‘living with water’) programme.

Part of the programme involves developing a Flood Early Warning System (FEWS) that warns residents in the Mamoré catchment area of an imminent flood risk, giving them sufficient time to implement damage limitation measures. The FEWS project was carried out by a consortium consisting of Witteveen+Bos, RHDHV, Deltares and CentroAGUA.

Both desk and field research, as well as data analysis, have been carried out. A hydrological model, a flood forecasting system, and flood protection measures – such as dykes and dams, designed at a conceptual-technical level – have been developed. The flood forecasting system has also been integrated into the Mamoré’s regional delta and water systems. Institutional implementation has been carried out with the most relevant ministries and stakeholders, and local staff have been trained and capacity increased.

Collecting data was challenging, as the required data for the various tributaries of the Mamoré is managed by different institutes in Bolivia. The institutional implementation was also challenging, as delivery of the required data – and its processing – needs to be guaranteed over a long period of time in the future.  This was solved by visiting the relevant institutes and demonstrating the importance of the data for everyone.

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