Introduction to the Delta Programme

The Netherlands is a low-lying country where the rivers, the IJsselmeer and the North Sea provide an abundance of water. Geographically speaking, this area is a delta. The Delta Programme was designed to protect the Netherlands against flooding and to secure freshwater supplies.

More rain, a rising sea level and higher temperatures

After the disastrous floods of 1953, the Dutch government introduced measures to protect the country more effectively against flooding. They included joint agreements about how high to build the coastal dikes. But now, 50 years later, circumstances have changed.

  • The data show that the sea level is rising and the land is subsiding.
  • There are more periods of high rainfall.
  • The temperature is rising.

The impact of flooding is more serious nowadays

Flooding would have a greater impact now than 50 years ago. The Dutch population has grown, so there are more potential victims. As much as 60% of the Netherlands could end up under water, including the largest towns and cities that make up the country’s economic centre. Effective protection against flooding – from the sea or rivers – is therefore essential.

Drier summers

The data show that temperatures are rising. Because of this, more rain is likely in the autumn and winter months, while summers are expected to get hotter and drier. During summer droughts there may not be enough freshwater for farming, industry and nature. Drinking water supplies are unlikely to be affected, however.

Delta Programme: looking ahead

The Netherlands needs to prepare for the consequences of the rising sea level, land subsidence and rising temperatures. This means looking further ahead and making effective plans for the long-term. It’s not only about the future, however. Flood protection currently also falls short in some areas. The government is carrying out a number of projects to remedy this. These projects are included in the annual Delta Programme.

Delta Programme advised by Delta Commission

The Delta Programme was announced in September 2008 on the recommendation of the Delta Commission, which was founded in the previous year.