Project outcomes and beyond

Main outcomes

Specific products:

  • A Vision and Action plan (in Dutch only) with specific spatial adaptation measures for the flood prone area of Ninove-Zuid has been developed.
  • Awareness-raising booklet (in Dutch only) ‘Water zonder overlast’, was produced and is continuously distributed (both for flood prone citizens and the wider community).
  • The incorporation of flood risk / water issues into neighbourhood information networks could take place in the upcoming months. However, it is entirely dependent on the head of the police department’s willingness.
  • An overarching report for all three Belgian pilots was also written. This report, "Evaluation of the Belgian FRAMES pilots. An analysis through three perspectives" can be downloaded here.

Process results:

  • Public actors were engaged in a participatory process, such as the participation of the Flemish Waterways; this is seen as an additional outcome indicating a change in the public working methods.

Outcomes related to actors

Public actors
  • The main accomplishment was to engage the public actors of Ninove into a participation process. This engagement was rather problematic and difficult. Time was needed to evolve the actors’ perception and passive stance into a more interestingly willing approach. A real collaboration was set in February 2019 with the new alderman of spatial planning and environment have officially stated his interest in collaborating in the project, the departments of mobility and public works as well as the sewer manager and the social housing company showing positive participations. The collaboration will lead at least the development of a Vision Plan for the whole flooding area of the centre of Ninove and at best to an action Plan with specific measures.
  • An interesting achievement is the participation of the Flemish Waterways. This public actor, responsible of the navigable river management, was not well acquainted with participative procedures, presenting in the past a high reluctance and scepticism to follow this kind of process. The Flemish Waterways were involved in the participation process of Ninove. 
  • 5 community resilience workshops were delivered. The workshops in the fire brigade office and the café ’De Belleman’ were very effective with a high presence and active participation of the inhabitants. One workshop, in Okegem, did not result an active participation and had essentially
  • Awareness-raising brochure ‘Water zonder overlast’, was produced and is continuously distributed (both for flood prone citizens and the wider community).
  • The preparedness manual is in progress, it is made by flood-prone citizens for newcomers to the area, in cooperation with the fire brigade.
  • The incorporation of flood risk / water issues into neighbourhood information networks could take place in the upcoming months. However, it is entirely dependent on the head of the police department’s willingness.

In the video below, the lessons learnt and outcomes of all Belgian pilots are summarized:

Flood risk management strategies (FRMS)

The flood risk governance in Belgium is moderately diversified, but mainly focused on defence. The water and flood issues are responsibility of public actors (state dominant) with a tendency to centralisation (Buijs et al., 2018).

The most recent IPCC predictions have made it clear that a considerable increase in river discharge can be expected until 2100, due to more extreme rainfall events and more river runoff. The risk of flooding will also increase due to heat stress weakening dikes. This provides proof for a relevant risk of climate change in the area.

The Flemish Region has a complex multi-level governance setting (Mees et al., 2016). Nine organisations are responsible for the sewer system infrastructures of different areas. Moreover, four different governmental actors have responsibility over watercourses. The partition is organised in function of the scale of the watercourses: one category for the navigable watercourses and three categories for the non-navigable watercourses (AF, 2017).

Next to the water management, spatial planning is managed at the the regional, provincial and municipal level. Since the establishment of the Commissie Integraal Waterbeleid in 2003, whose purpose is to organise an integral strategy amongst different entities, the water assessment has been introduced. So, since then, every new building development needs to imply an assessment of its effect on the water system. The European Floods Directive from 2007 has confirmed water managers’ understanding that working solely on protection would not suffice, but that also other types of measures (prevention and preparedness) are necessary. This gave them a formal reason to shift to Multi-Layered Water Safety (MLS) before the main focus was on protection, spatial planning played some role (e.g. through water assessment introduced in 2003), and disaster management organizations and structures – the emergency services, hospitals and fire department - have been in place. Since 2010 not many additional measures have been implemented to reduce flood risk, only some new jerseys have been placed along the river. No further action taken by the city Ninove or Denderleeuw. Nevertheless, 2010 as a trigger point, more information was collected. In 2013, a cost-efficiency analysis was done by the Flemish Environmental Insitute and the work on the Dender valley formally started in 2016. From 2016, the FRM plan for the Dender is being developed under the collaboration of the Flemish Waterways - the water manager - , the Departement Omgeving - the spatial planning department from the Flemish government and the Province of East Flanders, which also has spatial planning responsibilities. The FRM plan of the Dender focuses explicitly on the 3 Ps of the MLS approach. The FRM plan for Dender is the first plan to use the MLS and the 3Ps approach in Belgium. FRM in Belgium is traditionally regarded exclusively as a governmental responsibility, only in the last 5 years they started to engage citizens and other private actors to take flood risk measures.

The next table shows the FRM strategies that were considered before, during and after FRAMES project.

Table 1 Flood risks management strategies in the pilot area/region considering the timeline of FRAMES

Layers of MLS Before FRAMES During FRAMES After FRAMES
1 Flood protection FRM plan for Dender in 2016 No changes in hard infrastructure as result  of FRAMES (interview pilot manager, 2019) No changes in hard infrastructure as result  of FRAMES (interview pilot manager, 2019)
2 Spatial adaptation Spatial planning- Water assessment in 2003 and Impact assessment of any new building to the the water system since the Directive Integraal Water Beleid

FRM plan for Dender started in 2016

1. Design proposals for making a specific neighbourhood in Ninove climate-proof / flood-proof

2. Floodlabel project for 20 houses

1. Vision and action plan for Climate/flood proof neighbourhood in Ninove

2. Floodlabel project for 20 houses

3 Preparedness and response Disaster management-learning from previous floods (2010)- FRM plan for Dender started in 2016 1.Risk communication and emergency planning. Preparedness manual for citizens, resilience community workshops in collaboration with local governments, workshops in schools, meeting neighbourhood networks
4 Resilient recovery  


The Community Resilience Workshops and the two research-by-design projects in Ninove aim at involving all the local actors and communities in the development of flood resilient strategies by exploring and potentially set up MLS measures. The two projects are still running and here are the first findings.

 Community resilience workshops
  • One of the main issues in installing preparedness measures was the population’s perception of the responsibility of the flood risk management. Floods are traditionally a government’s responsibility and discussing possible measures and strategies with the local communities did not go as smoothly as expected. Getting from the single responsibility to the all responsibilities’ perspective will require time and energy.
  • Nevertheless, invitations to discuss openly about a societal problems was received with interest by the citizens. This was an interesting starting point to explore which preparedness measures the communities would be more willing to practice.
  • The planning of preparedness measures is thus dependent on the perception, socio-cultural and economic background of the communities.
 Research-by-design projects
  • The starting of the projects were highly dependent on the political context and its further development on the actor’s agenda. The project need to be complementary with the actor’s plans not only in order to proceed but also to be relevant.
  • The projects use a methodology that is new and nontraditional. One issue in its application was the possible lack of an actor’s consideration for its methodology and misbelief of its usefulness. This possible lack of consideration is relevant seen the traditional organisation and distribution of governmental's responsibilities among different institutes. The integral approach of MLS, which requires a high level of participation of each actors and information exchange,  is confronted with the persistent perception that each entity has a precise responsibility without requiring the involvement of external actors.
  • The Multi-Layered Water Safety (MLWS) approach currently presented at the scale of the Flemish regional institutions widens the perception of the possible measures. However, it is not used to design an overall multi-actor Flood Risk Management strategy. The approach is thus not set yet in the organisation of local public, civic and private actors and flood risks are not captured as a main or predominant issue to tackle from an individual perspective.
  • Most actors are inherently attached to their anteriorly defined and traditional functionalities.
  • The initial (in)formal rules and modus operandi of the involved actors had a significant influence on the process and the outcome of the different projects.

Dissemination and up-scaling of pilot results

  • Intensify communication efforts to open up awareness about the MLS approach and a shared responsibility over the flood problematic.
  • Define the specific responsibilities of the public, civic and private actors depending on their location in the water system.
  • Integrate the water element at every level of spatial management, not as an external issue but as an integral element of the territory in question.
  • Use the aspirations of the local actors as starting point for the implementation of MLS measures.
  • Continue exploring new alliances and the involvement of new actors for innovation purposes.

Transnational exchange

  • Protection: Not the main focus of FRAMES Belgium
  • Pro-action/prevention: Deliver input for the decision making of urgency and costs of measures for prevention/pro-action of critical infrastructure in Electricity grid (Kloosterzand), Sloegebied and Wesermarch pilots (FRR, 2017)
  • Preparedness & response: Share knowledge on emergency response (evacuation route and emergency planning) with Wesermarsch (Germany), Alblasserwaard and Zeeland (Netherlands)) pilots and on risk communication /capacity building (among authorities, businesses and citizens) with Wesermarsch, Alblasserwaard, Zeeland, KCC and Ninove (BE).
  • Recovery: Get input on flood recovery from Roskilde (Denmark)