The Netherlands lies in a delta of three major rivers: the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt. In 1993 and 1995, the rivers swelled to unprecedented levels, leading to the evacuation of 250,000 people and 1 million farm animals, creating a security challenge for officials at all levels.

In response, the Dutch started “Room for the River,” a €2.3 billion program to restore the rivers’ natural flood plains in places it is least harmful to protect areas that need to be defended.

The program makes room for the river by deepening summer beds, storing water, moving and strengthening dikes, and much more. By taking these steps, the Dutch government is increasing safety of nearly 4 million people.