Socio-economic assessment of the consequences of flooding in Northern Namibia

Shifidi, Victoria Tuwilika (2014-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study was conducted in the Cuvelai Basin in Northern Namibia to assess vulnerability and socio-economic impacts of flooding on local residents, and to suggest ways to counteract the consequences of flooding in rural areas of the Basin. This followed severe flooding in 2009, 2011 and 2012. These combined flooding episodes had a substantial impact on local residents and the Namibian economy, with estimated losses of approximately US$136.4 million (NAD1364 million) in direct damage and US$78.2 million (NAD780 million) in indirect losses. The consequences of flooding amounted to ~1% of the country’s 2009 Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Rural residents in the Cuvelai Basin live predominantly on small farm holdings (‘ekove’) allocated by local village leadership, and depend heavily on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. Since higher-lying ground with soil best suited for crop production becomes scarcer, residents are allocated land in low-lying areas which are smaller and more susceptible to floods. The destruction of crops, farm and grazing land, trees and livestock, by floods and similar disasters is of a huge concern. The study sought to assess the impacts of flooding, geographical or physical circumstances that place residents at risk, and socio-economic conditions that lead to vulnerability. The study also attempted to assess whether traditional leaders (headmen) and village residents can use flood risk maps to create plans to reduce flood vulnerability. Over the past flood years, initiatives by the government to cope with floods have been response (relief), short-term and heavily donor dependent. To cope with floods and agro-climatic changes in their basin, rural residents have evolved their practices, some of which are traditional, to help lessen the impacts of floods on their livelihoods. Unfortunately such knowledge is not fully acknowledged by policy, decision makers and disaster risk managers. As a result of this knowledge gap, the study’s objective of compiling these practices, serves as a means to document localized traditional flood response, mitigation and adaptive measures. Moreover, the study will suggest contemporary adaptive measures as recommended by the local rural residents. Residents in 314 households were interviewed during August to November 2012. The households were selected following recommendations by village headmen, and consisted of 273 flooded homes, 42 village leaders, and 35 homes that were not flooded from 45 randomly selected villages. The qualitative data was captured, pre-coded, processed and analysed in Microsoft Excel, SPSS and STATISTICA to derive descriptive and inferential statistics. Following consultations with village headmen and residents, recommendations were made on practical adaptive strategies to flooding. The study found that there is a need to foster community level participation, buy-in and involvement in disaster risk management strategies in order to reduce the gap between technical early warning mechanisms and indigenous knowledge. Results revealed that households with coinciding socio-economic and geographic vulnerability are heavily impacted by flood disasters. However, these two vulnerabilities are not directly proportional to each other. Other vulnerable groups in society were outlined and structural and non-structural mitigation and preparedness measures at household level were recommended by the residents. It is the study’s intention that this will assist in strengthening local residents adaptive capabilities during events of flooding, thereby mitigating their impacts. The project’s intention of documenting this technical and indigenous knowledge, will serve as a knowledge base that can be compiled and integrated into an effective village friendly flood early warning system. It is further hoped that this initiative will garner support at the policy level and contribute to the prioritization of flood response to pending disasters being placed at the centre of development planning and execution.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie is uitgevoer in die Cuvelai-opvangsgebied om die kwesbaarheid en sosio-ekonomiese impak van vloede op die plaaslike inwoners te bepaal ten einde maniere te vind om die gevolge van oorstromings in die landelike gebiede van die Cuvelai teen te werk. Ernstige oorstromings in 2009, 2011 en 2012 het 'n aansienlike impak op die Namibiese ekonomie gehad met geraamde verliese van ongeveer US$136.4 million (NAD1364 million) in direkte skade en US$78.2million (NAD780 million) in indirekte verliese vir die land. Ongeveer een persent (1%) van die land se 2009 bruto binnelandse produk (BBP) is benut om die gevolge van hierdie oorstromings aan te spreek. Landelike inwoners in die Cuvelai-opvangsgebied woon op kleinhoewes, plaaslik bekend as ekove, wat toegeken word deur plaaslike gemeenskapsleierskap. Hulle is hoofsaaklik afhanklik van bestaansboerdery. Aangesien hoër-liggende gebiede met goeie landboupotensiaal toenemend skaarser word, word nuwe kleinhoewes toegeken in laer-liggende gebiede, waar die negatiewe gevolge van oorstromings op inwoners erger kan wees. Skade aan gewasse, landbougrond en weiding, boorde en vee deur oorstromings en soortgelyke rampe is dus kommerwekkend. Die doelstelling van die studie was dus om die impak van oorstromings te bepaal, die geografiese of fisiese omstandighede wat plaaslike inwoners in gevaar stel te evalueer, en sosio–ekonomiese toestande wat lei tot kwesbaarheid te bepaal. Verdere doelwitte was om vas te stel of gemeenskapleiers en plaaslike inwoners vloedrisikokaarte kan gebruik om vloedkwesbaarheid te bepaal, in oorleg met plaaslike owerhede en inwoners alternatiewe praktiese aangepaste strategieë vir oorstromings vas te stel en aanbevelings aan die nasionale rampsbestuursbeleid en praktyk waar toepaslik te maak. Tydens die afgelope oorstromings was regeringsinisiatiewe om oorstromings te hanteer korttermyn vloedverligting, grootliks afhanlik van skenker. Om vloede en landbou-klimaatsveranderinge the hanteer, het landelike inwoners nuwe praktyke ontwikkel, sommige van tradisionele aard, om die impak van oorstomings op hulle lewensbestaan the verminder. Ongelukkig word sodanige kennis nie ten volle erken deur beleid, besluitnemers en ramprisikobestuurders nie. As gevolg van hierdie kennisgaping, dien die studiedoelwit om hierdie praktyke saam te stel die doel om gelokaliseerde tradisionele maatreëls aangaande vloedreaksie, versagting en aapasbaarheid te dokumenteer. Verder sal die studie onlangse maatreëls voorstel soos aanbeveel deur die plaaslike landelike inwoners. Ten einde kwalitatiewe data van die gemeenskappe wat in die Cuvelai woon te bekom is daar vir vier maande (Augustus tot November 2012) opnames gedoen by 314 huishoudings, gekies op aanbeveling van die plaaslike owerhede wat insluit 273 vloedslagoffers, 42 gemeenskapsleiers, en 35 huishoudings wat nie deur vloede beïnvloed is nie, vanuit 45 verskillende gemeenskappe. Die kwalitatiewe data is opgeneem, vooraf-gekodeer, verwerk en ontleed in Microsoft Excel, SPSS en STATISTICA om beskrywende en inferensiële statistieke te bekom. Die studie het bevind dat daar 'n behoefte is om die vlak van gemeenskapsdeelname te bevorder, inkoop en betrokkenheid by die ramp risikobestuurstrategieë te verkry ten einde die tegniese gaping tussen vroeë waarskuwingsmeganismes en inheemse kennis te verminder. Die studie het ook getoon dat huishoudings met ‘n gekombineerde sosio-ekonomiese en geografiese kwesbaarheid groter newe-effekte ondervind van vloedrampe. Die twee kwesbaarhede is egter nie direk eweredig aanmekaar nie. Ander kwesbare groepe in die samelewing is uitgewys, en strukturele en nie-strukturele versagting en paraatheidsmaatreëls op huishoudelike vlak is deur die inwoners aanbeveel. Die studie se doelwit is om die aanpasbaarheid van die plaaslike inwoners tydens oorstromings te bevorder, en sodoende die impak te verminder. Dokumentasie van hierdie tegniese en inheemse kennis sal dien as 'n kennisbasis wat saamgestel en geïntegreer kan word in 'n effektiewe gemeenskapsvriendelike vroeë vloedwaarskuwingstelsel. Indien hierdie inisiatief ondersteuning vind op beleidsvlak, kan dit bydra tot die prioritisering van vloed- en rampreaksie in ontwikkelingbeplanning en uitvoering.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96066
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