Are preventive and coping measures enough to avoid loss and damage from flooding in Udayapur district, Nepal?

Are preventive and coping measures enough to avoid loss and damage from flooding in Udayapur district, Nepal?

Results from a case study in Nepal on climate change related coping and adaptation strategies, and residual loss and damage mitigation.

Although the world’s ‘least developed’ countries have contributed little to global warming, they are bearing some of the heaviest impacts of anthropogenic climate change. With climate models suggesting worse is yet to come, it is crucial that we better our understanding of the risks and the adequacy (or otherwise) of coping and adaptation approaches to help ensure we minimise loss and damage. To this end, this case study published in the International Journal of Global Warming examines household vulnerability and responses in relation to flooding in Udayapur district, Nepal. It describes how communities in this region deal with flooding, and asks to what extent their preventive, coping, and adaptation measures have been successful in avoiding loss and damage. The case study is part of a multi-country research project funded by the Climate Development Knowledge Network. Researchers undertook 300 household surveys together with open interviews and focus group discussions, collecting data on local perceptions of climatic and weather changes, flood impacts, household vulnerability, local measures to adapt to changes, and residual losses and damages in spite of these adaptive measures. On this last point, the authors highlight that respondents had opportunities to present losses in ways other than in material or economic terms. The research revealed a wide range of strategies that families adopt in relation to flooding. In situ measures – such as the construction of sand embankments, stonewalls, and bamboo fences – are frequently used to control floods and prevent impacts. The most common coping strategies in the Udayapur district are out-migration for labour, and reliance on non-food income, social networks, and external support. The results show that despite high adoption rates, for a majority of the households, preventive and adaptation measures are often not enough to avoid loss and damage. In a concluding discussion, the authors make a number of observations, including:

  • Households that succeed in coping with flooding have diversified income sources; are able to maintain strong social networks; and can access to government support programmes.
  • After disasters, vulnerable populations are at risk of spiralling into indebtedness and poverty, and are systematically disadvantaged in access to resources.
  • Political imbalances determined geographically according to wealth can negate the possibility for bottom-up solutions to cross-boundary issues.
  • There are a number of indigenous strategies, everyday practices, and creative innovations that communities already use to respond to the anticipated or realised impacts of floods, and these should help inform policy. [adapted from source]
  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.