Sigma Plan working to keep Flanders safe from flooding

To better protect Flanders from flooding on the Scheldt and its tributaries. And boost valuable river nature at the same time. Those are the objectives of the Sigma Plan, which is implemented by De Vlaamse Waterweg nv and the Flemish Agency for Nature and Forest. The plan also considers the development of recreational activities on and along the water and the river's accessibility for inland navigation.

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Overstroming Polders van Kruibeke tijdens storm Corrie in 2022, ©Vilda
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Protecting Flanders, today and tomorrow

Because of climate change and rising sea levels, it is crucial to keep investing in the Sigma Plan. The Sigma Plan is about higher and wider levees, a chain of flood areas along tidal rivers (FCA and FCA-CRT) and local depoldering. This is how we protect the entire region of Flanders from flooding from those tidal rivers at storm tides. A storm tide happens when a spring tide in the Sea Scheldt Basin coincides with a (north)westerly storm on the North Sea. We are also restoring the natural bends or meanders of the rivers in certain places. That is because they are natural buffers during periods of high precipitation. In summer, they also stop areas from getting too dry, just like barriers on the riverbed.

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Groot Schoor Hamme, 2022, ©Vilda
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Protection, expansion and development of estuarine nature

By giving the Scheldt and its tributaries more space, we restore their ecosystem. This gives nature a solid boost and helps us to the European conservation objectives. Ebb and flow create a unique tidal natural environment that accommodates numerous special plants and animals. Areas that are not affected by the tides are turned into wetlands. These absorb the water during heavy rainfall, only to release it again very slowly in periods of drought.

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Fietsen langs de Schelde, Wetteren, ©TOV
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More recreation on and along the waterfront

The special natural environment along the Scheldt and its tributaries offers unique recreational opportunities. We invest heavily in this to make the rivers and their surroundings even more attractive to cyclists, walkers and other recreational visitors.

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Netekanaal aan Varenheuvel-Abroek, ©Yves Adams
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A prosperous economy

As one of Europe's busiest rivers, the Scheldt plays a prominent economic role in (international) shipping, the local economy and agriculture. Our work takes this into account so that water safety, nature and the economy can all develop alongside each other.

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Project areas


Levees and quays


Flood control area

Target species

Of which 37 animal species with European conservation targets 


Phased implementation


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