Floods as a physical event vary greatly with respect to their velocities, onset, and highflow duration and recession dynamics, in their impacts on debris flows and water quality, and in their unusualness with respect to the historical flood regime. Activities undertaken by M-POWER have helped establish flood and disaster management in the Mekong Region as valid subjects for social, institutional and political analysis. They also demonstrated the value of engagement by researchers with practitioners whether the latter are non-state actors in flood-affected communities or government officials with responsibilities for flood and disaster management.
Promises of protection from floods are a subset of the different ways society can respond to risks from flood waters. The protection approach usually implies prevention through regulation of flows. Promises of protection are often made in earth or concrete: dams built far upstream will regulate river flows; diversions will take the water around and past the city; dykes higher and longer will hold back the flood waters; drains, pumps and tunnels will move water out faster.
Flood management policies, measures and practices in the greater Mekong Region, intended to reduce risks, however, frequently shift risks onto already vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Promises of protection and how they are pursued can be explained in terms of beliefs, interests, and power.