Policy delivery gaps in the land-based flood risk management in China: A wider partnership is needed

Shiqiang Du, Ju Shen, Jian Fang*, Jiayi Fang, Wei Liu, Jiahong Wen, Xiaoxuan Huang, Sixin Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Land resources can accommodate extra floodwaters, thus playing an important role in integrated flood risk management (FRM). However, potential conflicts emerge as the lands that are used as temporal room for floodwaters are also home to human beings, which is common in the flood detention zones (FDZs) in China. To date, little is known about how Chinese policies address the conflicts and how local stakeholders perceive the policies. This paper aims to address this research gap using a case study of the FDZs in the middle Huaihe River, China. A mixed method is applied including an official document survey, a multi-layer interview (15 respondents), and questionnaires (123 respondents). We find that three major strategies are employed to enhance the flood detention function and reduce flood risk inside the FDZs: 1) returning parts of the FDZs to rivers; 2) flood-adaptive farming; and 3) reducing population density via a massive relocation. However, the local residents have a low engagement willingness, which are associated with a poor perception of the policies and a lack of short-term economic attractiveness. Policy delivery gaps thus exist. Information sharing should be enhanced to encourage public participation. A public-private partnership involving more social and financial resources, particularly including the downstream beneficiaries, could help to increase the policy's economic feasibility. The findings can enrich a policy shift toward a more land-based FRM, particularly in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-135
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Early online date28 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Flood
  • Flood detention zone
  • Land use
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Plain restoration
  • Risk migration


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