Flood disaster preparedness and impacts on rural households: a comparative study of Mwandi District of Zambia and Eastern Zambezi Region of Namibia.
Mabuku, Monde Patrina.
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The Zambezi Basin is considered vulnerable to climate variability as evidenced by the recurrent floods. The increased occurrence and severity of floods in recent years in areas previously not flooded has inundated parts of Eastern Zambezi Region of Namibia and Mwandi District of Zambia. The magnitude and frequency of these floods, coupled with poor disaster preparedness and lack of effective adaptation strategies, is believed to have negative impacts on rural households. Therefore, a cross country case study was carried out in order to assess the impacts of floods on income, crop production and livestock ownership; to determine the level of flood disaster preparedness; to assess coping and adaptation strategies undertaken by the rural households, and to develop a Household Flood Disaster Resilience Framework (HFDRF). Furthermore, the factors influencing the choice of different adaptation strategies and preparedness level were determined. Data were collected through structured and semi- structured questionnaire survey, focus group discussions, literature reviews and observations. The results indicated that floods had statistically significant impacts on income, crop production and livestock ownership of flooded rural households in both Namibia and Zambia. Rural households depended on both short-term coping and long-term adaptation strategies in order to minimize the negative impacts of floods and flood disasters. Households coped with floods through charcoal production, sale of firewood, sale of grass and reeds, collection of wild food and receipt of food aid. Long-term adaptation strategies included planting trees, fish farming, and flood water harvesting, temporary relocation to higher ground, and changing planting dates, among others. A majority of the households were well prepared (52%) for flood hazards in Namibia, whilst a minority were well prepared (9%) in Zambia. Furthermore, flood preparedness was influenced by sense of community, risk perception, self-efficacy, responsibility efficacy, outcome expectancy, education level, marital status, access and size of land. The study concludes that a variety of factors influence level of flood preparedness and adaptation strategy choices. For policy purposes, this suggests that relevant stakeholders’ interventions should consider these factors in order to enhance the rural households’ adaptive capacity to flooding. Furthermore, results on the impacts of floods on rural households could help in targeting the most vulnerable households in responding effectively to food disasters. This study informs decision makers and practitioners who aim to strengthen disaster risk reduction and management in the two countries and under similar environments, on the status quo of flood impacts, adaptation, and preparedness. The Household Flood Disaster Resilience Framework can be used as a tool for monitoring rural households’ flood resilience.