Here is a first-hand account of recent flooding in Luang Namtha in north-western Laos.
The author is Bill Tuffin, owner of the Boat Landing Guesthouse. He makes some interesting observations about the possible causes of flooding. Clearly the primary cause is extremely high rainfall. But Tuffin suggests a number of other contributing factors – dam building, road construction and forest clearing. In relation to the latter he suggest that “inadequate forest cover was left to sufficiently retain and slow down the rain water runoff.” This is a commonly made claim in Southeast Asia with upland farmers regularly blamed for causing downstream flooding. But the evidence to support the claim is mixed. Hydrological studies suggest that in extreme rainfall events even generous forest cover can do little to ameliorate downstream flooding. A good discussion of this complex issue has been prepared by FAO. It’s worth reading.