Measuring community flood resilience and associated factors in rural Malawi

Ozius Dewa*, Donald Makoka, Olalekan A. Ayo-Yusuf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

With global estimates showing an increasing trend in flooding and its adverse effects on communities and population health, resilience is presented as a concept with potential to help integrate disaster risk management, sustainable development, and climate change adaptation concerns. Resilience research and practice have conceptual and empirical challenges of how to understand, characterize and measure resilience, particularly at community level. Using a multidimensional framework, this paper takes a systems approach to understanding, characterizing, and measuring community flood resilience. Through cluster analysis, bivariate methods and multivariable-adjusted binary logistic regression modeling, we developed a context and hazard specific construct of community flood resilience and investigated its predictor variables. The factors defining the community flood resilience construct captured the community needs to withstand disasters through purpose-built infrastructure, early warning systems for preparedness and utilization of local human capacity for adaptation. These results strengthen the previous arguments for utilizing a comprehensive multidimensional framework for resilience analysis. Access to services for improved health and psychosocial well-being was significantly associated with the three-item measure of being more flood resilient. Additionally, a strong sense of place and resistance to relocation were presented as key elements of resilience, maintaining community system function, and preserving livelihoods. The study further found that these key factors would not be adequate to guarantee community flood resilience outside the transformative capacity of a well-resourced village civil protection committee that can prepare and mobilize stakeholders in response to flood emergencies. Our results suggest that, in the context where policymakers seek to strengthen resilience of communities without relocating them, a focus on public health and on strengthening and utilizing local capacities as adaptation, are key in disaster risk management policymaking and implementation. For the international research community, this study demonstrated the importance of utilizing context and hazard specific measures for defining, characterizing, and measuring resilience to inform policy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Flood Risk Management
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Malawi
  • climate change
  • disaster policy
  • flooding
  • resilience
  • resilience measurement

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