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Flash flooding hits Mandalay’s Amarapura township after embankment collapse

December 2020

More than 4,000 households and about 20,000 residents in Mandalay’s Amarapura township have been hit by flashfloods caused by a river embankment that collapsed on 19 July 2020. Through a coordinated response, the city government and local communities worked together to repair the damage and prevent further flooding of surrounding communities.

Following heavy monsoon rainfall, water from the swelling Ayeyawaddy river created a large sinkhole in its embankment which caused it to fail. The embankment collapse occurred just 15 meters from the Shwe Ge flood gate and sewage pumping station in Mandalay’s Amarapura township. The collapse resulted in a flood that destroyed the roads near the embankment and affected the lowland areas and flooded surrounding villages. About 200 households in the area had to be evacuated.

The Mandalay Regional Government and City Development Committee coordinated the response, which included substantial volunteer support from local communities. Their efforts helped to stem the water flow through the embankment within 24 hours. However, the authorities estimate it would take another month before affected communities can return to their homes. In the meantime, thousands of people have been forced to stay in temporary shelters along the Sagiang-Mandalay and Kan Pat roads.

While the disaster response was swift, the incident highlights the need to integrate climate change considerations into infrastructure planning and design in order to build resilience to extreme weather events. It also shows that public awareness of flood risk during monsoon season is essential for flood risk preparedness at household level.

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An aerial view the collapsed embankment near the Shwe Ge flood gate and sewage pumping station caused by flashfoods. / MCDC

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AUTHOR

  • Khual Tawna
    UCCRTF Country Resilience Officer for Myanmar

UCCRTF is supporting Mandalay to build resilience under Grant 0455-MYA: Mandalay Urban Services Improvement Project.