Project outcomes and beyond

Specific outcomes

  • Stakeholders are more aware of their inter-dependencies with regards to the various layers
  • The project on spontaneous help during an evacuation is an important result of this pilot project

Process results

  • Connecting this project to the project of ‘Water en Ruimte verbinden’ made it easier to enthuse the stakeholders
  • Increased awareness, collaboration and exchange of knowledge and experiences among stakeholders

In the video below, the lessons learnt and outcomes of this pilot are summarized. Please note that this video was shot when this project was halfway - knowledge acquired later on has been incorporated in the policy recommendations, the final survey and the transnational monitoring and evaluation report.

Flood risk management strategies (FRMS)

The Netherlands spends most of its efforts on prevention (layer 1), and it takes time to shift focus to spatial measures (layer 2, Delta program) and emergency management (layer 3) ( evacuation in case of flooding) (Buijs et al. 2018). The main message has always been ‘we will not let you flood’, so making people aware of evacuation is not a popular message for mayors to spread. Let alone talking about reconstruction and rebuilding (layer 4), because that means it has happened already. But the awareness on this is slowly growing (interview will pilot manager, 2019).

The following table summarizes the actions/measures taken for flood risk management before, during Frames and which will be impact of afterwards.

Layers of MLS Before FRAMES During FRAMES After FRAMES
1 Flood protection Since disaster of 1953 strongly focused on flood protection (dikes and barriers) Spatial planning measures were explored during Frames to give suggestions but it was not part of the project outcomes  (interview pilot manager, 2019). Spatial planning measures were explored during Frames to give suggestions but it was not part of the project outcomes (interview pilot manager, 2019).
2 Spatial adaptation Delta program: flood defense strategy and spatial measures.

Not part of Frames part of this FRAMES pilot (interview pilot manager, 2019).

Combine evacuation and spatial development in the Frames pilot as part of the Delta program.

Awareness raising and better collaboration among Safety Region, Water board and local municipalities (interview pilot manager, 2019).

Combine results of Frames and policy recommendations into  final report and present/discuss them with the policy makers of the Province of Zuid Holland and the municipalities about next steps and possible changes in policies (interview pilot manager, 2019).
3 Preparedness and response Low attention. The Safety Region had evacuation plans but they were very basic. It was not include how and where to evacuate people. 1) Spontaneous help for evacuation in case of flooding; 2) Increase in social capital (local entrepreneurs) for emergency management (shelter, evacuation, planning) and 3) awareness raising and better collaboration among the Safety Region, Water board and local municipalities

(interview pilot manager, 2019).

Combine the results of FRAMES with the results of the Delta program into a position paper and present and discuss them with the policy makers of the Province of Zuid Holland and the municipalities about next steps: possible changes in policies (interview pilot manager, 2019).
4 Resilient recovery No attention Awareness rising about recovery during project meetings/ talks but not specific activities were taken  (interview pilot manager, 2019). Increase in awareness about flood risk and recovery as an outcomes of the project activities (interview pilot manager, 2019).

Lessons learnt

  • Getting the municipalities engaged was difficult. They were not enthusiastic right from the start; the first response was often that MLS was not applicable to their area. It took time to get them interested and willing to participate. By getting them all on the same page using the literature study that showed the situation in their area, it became clear the MLS was also applicable for their area. So it was a matter of getting the right information to them and convince them it would be interesting to look at things from another point of view. Not excluding options, but be open to include other options as well.  And not in the immediate future, but further down the road. Moreover, it was also difficult to engage with the municipalities because they are small in area and they do not have enough men power (the person responsible for water safety is also responsible of ten other subjects). In general, the Province could only reach them in meetings/ workshops as part of the larger project.
  • On a more organizational level, there were difficulties with internal capacity of the Province of Zuid Holland. It takes time to get a project going, and to keep it going.
  • Time was another barrier; it takes time for people to get aware of the problem, and it takes times to for people how they can become part of the solution as well.
  • The MLS approach takes time, so the political reality is a barrier as well: the Government has a different time span, every 4 year we have elections and their horizon is not further than 4 years, or less. Changing their time perspective to a long(er) term is a barrier.
  • The MLS approach also needs willingness to cooperate. Everyone  says they want to cooperate but can or do they actually cooperate? In this area, municipalities are small, so it again comes down to capacity issues.


The overall conclusion is that multi-layer safety offers considerable unexpected potential. Other conclusions are:

  • The literature review examined 25 research studies and reports. The most significant outcome was that this led to a collective definition and shared picture of MLS and gave rise to a shared picture of the circumstances in the polder during a flood, e.g. where the principal threats come from. 
  • Spatial planning measures (Layer 2) can contribute towards improved evacuation and, therefore, crisis management (Layer 3).The solutions turned out to lie in improving traffic movement (networks and flows) and in exploiting differences in elevation.
  • The ‘Helping Hands’ study examined how the capacity for spontaneous help offered by the community and the emergency aid capacity provided by government could strengthen one another. The study revealed that the community capacity for spontaneous assistance rests on four general principles:
    • Mutual self-reliance: community capacity begins with the acknowledgement that communities are mutually self-reliant, and that the resilience offered by this mutual self-reliance is indispensable when flooding is imminent.
    • Leadership: personal leadership, whether in government or in society, increases community capacity through clear decision-making and the communication of authoritative information.
    • Unambiguity: a clear, unambiguous message gives direction to community capacity, and creates opportunities for society to contribute towards this direction.
    • Partnership in responsibility: the structures and professionalism of government capacity, and the dynamics and power of community capacity, strengthen one another when they experience partnership in responsibility. 

Dissemination and up-scaling of pilot results

As a result of FRAMES, the stakeholders in this pilot area are now energized to think about all layers of MLS. The challenge is how to continue this momentum. A final report will be written. Together with a session this will be used to disseminate the conclusion and to address next steps for every stakeholder. The network of the ‘Water en Ruimte verbinden’ project will also be used for dissemination. 

Province: linking. The province faces the challenge of linking the FRAMES outcomes with those from other MLS processes, such as the Vitaal en Kwetsbaar (‘Critical and Vulnerable’) study in the Delta Programme. It is also up to the province to develop the MLS concept in environmental policies and programmes. The province should also examine how it wishes to apply this principle in other domains.

Other parties in the Alblasserwaard and the Vijfheerenlanden area: keep working together and moving ahead. The stakeholders in the A5H Area Council continue to work together. For instance, during the Rijnmond-Drechtsteden Delta Programme area conference a session was organized to discuss the ‘Helping Hands’ study. In this way municipalities and the Safety Region can continue to convey the outcomes of this research to other partners and other areas. The stakeholders should also examine how they wish to translate the recommendations into concrete action.

Parties outside the Alblasserwaard and the Vijfheerenlanden area: scale up.Outside the area, too, other parties are looking at the MLS concept. The policy recommendations we have produced in FRAMES are also relevant to them. This will allow the MLS concept to be scaled up.

Transnational exchange

  • There are commonalities between the Wesermarsch, Alblasserwaard and the other pilots in the Netherlands. When floods occur in Alblasserwaard and Wesermarsch, there will be casualties. However, the projects in the UK and Belgium are different because the flood r

isks are different. Thus, their prospective and solutions will probably differ from and not be applicable to the situation in this pilot. However, there is much to learn from the solutions of the River Trust and Flood Forum about using volunteers – what works in the UK might also work in the Netherlands and we have not tried their approach yet; we should probably change our message to the Dutch people: “you can go to sleep and feel safe, but we should be able to count on you when you’re awake and something happens”.Just being aware of other approaches means you are applying it in your daily work, albeit unconsciously. In that way, all pilots can and have learned from each other.

  • Time-frames differ per country – measurements taken in the UK were taken in Germany and the Netherlands already two decades ago. That is not necessarily wrong or right – it is based on history, governance structures and time.
  • Awareness is a huge part of the solution – knowing you can be and should be a part of the solution, and need to take actions to actually be part of that solution is a major accomplishment of this project, and this notion crosses borders.
  • The relationship between government and society affects the possibilities for spontaneous help from the community. In the Netherlands, emergency help is dominated by government; in the UK, for instance, it is provided by a combination of government and community.
  • For many FRAMES partners the concepts of equality, mutual understanding and partnership between government and society are regarded as important factors that contribute towards resilience against flooding. This is confirmed by the present study, and has led to the inclusion of ‘partnership in responsibility’ as one of its guiding principles.
  • It has become clear that decentralized communication and coordination offer great potential. Modern communication channels are making this approach more and more feasible. Moreover, help does not then have to be constrained by national borders.
  • Crisis management especially, but also the recovery phase, evoke all kinds of reactions from society. This social dimension has been examined, but deserves further research.