Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database | Publications

Bakker, Marloes H.N., 2009. Transboundary River Floods and Institutional Capacity. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) vol.45, no.3: 553-566.

While transboundary flood events have become more frequent on a global scale the past two decades,
they appear to be overlooked in the international river basin (IRB) cooperation and management arena.
The present study therefore combined geopolitical measures with biophysical and socioeconomic variables in an
attempt to identify the IRBs with adequate institutional capacity for management of transboundary floods. It
also classified basins that would possibly benefit from enlarging the institutional capacity related to transboundary
floods. Of the 279 known IRBs, only 78 were represented by a transboundary rivers institution. A mere
eight of the 153 identified institutions had transboundary flooding listed as an issue in their mandate. Overall,
43 basins, where transboundary floods were frequent during the period 1985-2005, had no institutional capacity
for IRBs. The average death and displacement tolls were found to be lower in the 37 basins with institutional
capacity, even though these basins experienced twice as much transboundary floods with significant higher magnitudes
than those in basins without institutional capacity. Overall, the results suggested that institutional
capacity plays a role in the reduction of flood-related casualties and affected individuals. River basins such as
the Juba-Shibeli, Han, Kura-Araks, Ma, Maritsa, Po, Coco ⁄ Segovia, Grijalva, Artibonite, Changuinola, Coatan
Achute, and Orinoco experienced more than one transboundary river flood, but have not yet set up any institutions
for such events, or signed any appropriate treaties focused on floods. These basins were therefore recommended
to consider focusing attention on this apparent lack of institutional capacity when it comes to managing
transboundary flood events.