Strategic work between agencies in the planning system for sustainable flood management : the case of Oman
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The history of Oman’s planning system has passed through many different stages, each requiring developers to enact different procedures. Current planning strategies and developments reflect present day concerns that new developments should be modernised to incorporate contemporary processes. Rapid urban development in the Sultanate has resulted in many policy overlaps, in relation to economic development and urbanisation. Oman has recently suffered from a recurrence of floods in successive years. After the two incidents, Guno and Phet, it became evident that it is necessary to create a planning system that can offer effective management of both water and city planning. It is also essential to create a sustainable flood management approach to preserve greater amounts of water while also controlling water flow. This thesis will focus on improvements to flood management and city planning systems, to protect the population of Oman from risk during flooding events. The research undertaken for this thesis combined quantitative and qualitative methods. These included 34 interviews with planners, experts, middle-aged/elderly people and specialists in both water management and meteorology, and 392 questionnaires to other stakeholders. The results show poor co-ordination between the different parties, and limited cooperation between administrators and planners within the government, leading to carelessness with regard to changing land uses and the ‘individual’ in decision-making. Furthermore, the acceleration in plot extensions for development and the creation of the new development plots on floodplains exacerbated flooding. There is evidence that the drainage system is very poor throughout most of Oman. The Muscat Municipality and the Haya Company have made some effort in some areas of Muscat; however, these efforts concentrate only on commercial and domestic wastewater. There is no clear strategy, however, for rainwater drainage, except along roads and related culvert systems. In addition, despite their potential benefits, some culvert systems, such as those in Al-Hail, create a major problem for flooding because of their location. The majority of the interviewees stated that they hoped the Supreme Council for Planning would resolve such issues, but others claimed that they were still unclear about whether the council was a supervisory, economic or planning body. To achieve sustainable flood management in Oman, and to address those phenomena that will negatively affect the Oman's cities if flooding occurs requires considerable effort, partnership and co-ordination between different agencies and members of the community. It is also important to involve the water resources agencies in any planning procedures to limit conflicts between water projects and planning projects.