City at Risk - What Risk are we facing in Kuala Lumpur and why?

City at risk- What risks are we facing in Kuala Lumpur and why?

Urbanization is often cited as a major agent of transformation of the natural environment. The major affected components include land, water, air and biodiversity/ biological processes. Land, air, water and biodiversity/ biological processes are coming under considerable pressures due to urbanization, leading to an increasing scarcity of limited resources. However, water problems do not only include scarcity but also the abundance of water at a certain time and place. In either extreme, water can become an environmental hazard. Due to the tropical climate and Kuala Lumpur's topography, located in a valley, the city has experienced water abundance, in the form of flood. The flood events in Kuala Lumpur have been associated with its rapid population growth and urbanization in the past two decades. This paper aims to firstly assess the series of flood events which have affected Kuala Lumpur and their causes; and secondly, to understand the government agencies' and local communities' perception of flood risk, as well as their coping capacity . Data were collected through conducting interviews and questionnaire surveys. The findings of the study led to the conclusion that government agencies have thus far taken a technical approach to mitigate floods and local communities have adopted social approaches in order to cope with flood risk. Nonetheless, there was no confluence of the two in tackling flood risk in the city. In addition, the absence of an integrated approach involving the different government departments in charge of urban development has thwarted effective flood mitigation efforts which. The development of a holistic and integrated approach to mitigating risk is crucial since Kuala Lumpur will be faced with an increasing risk of natural (and human induced?) hazards in future.

Keywords: urbanization, environmental hazard, integrated approach, coping capacity, flood mitigation

Ms. Goh Hong Ching
Department of Geography, Universiti Malaya

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