High water flow in the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh in July 2017

When Floods Cross Borders, Satellite Data Can Help

Alt Tag: High water flow in the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh in July 2017.
News Description: On 23 July 2018, a dam in southernmost Laos collapsed, and the resultant flood left more than 6,000 people homeless. The fractures in the dam that led to the disaster were discovered 2 days earlier. Yet the residents who lived downstream, many across the border in Cambodia, didn't have access to real-time information about the increased risk of flooding. Such floodwaters that cross borders are often termed "transboundary floods" and are more likely to be catastrophic. News such as dam-driven flooding in Laos underscores the urgency of making information on upstream dams in transboundary regions more accessible to citizens of developing nations. In a bid to improve timely access to upstream reservoir information in transboundary river basins of the Red and Mekong rivers, Vietnam recently launched a satellite-based operational system. This article describes the key steps to building such a transboundary dam monitoring system for water agencies of developing countries.