Rationalities of community-based adaptation strategies to urban flooding in Misisi informal settlement in Lusaka, Zambia.

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Milupi, Collins
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The University of Zambia
This abstract is based on a study carried out in Misisi; an informal settlement in the city of Lusaka. The settlement experiences perennial floods. However, despite the frequency and devasting effects of flooding in the area, people continue to live in the settlement. In much of urban Africa, adaptation to settlement flooding has been community-driven based on lived experiences and the use of local resources and rudimental technologies. However, there has been a contested debate regarding the value of local knowledge and experience in disaster risk reduction for a wholesome flood adaptation response in African cities. Often viewed as ‘backwards’, governments instead based on foreign ideas have emphasized ‘advanced’ alien technologically sophisticated and economically expensive approaches which are often non-consultative and alien to local living conditions. This study sought to examine the rationalities that influence the implementation of community-based adaptation strategies to mitigate flooding in Misisi. The aim was achieved by the following objectives: To investigate the role of community governance systems for flood adaptation, to spatially map flood risk areas using community and experiential knowledge, to identify community-driven adaptation strategies and to examine instances of differences between community and state approaches to urban flood risk mitigation in Misisi. The study used a case study research approach. It was designed as a descriptive and interpretive inquiry analysed through a mixed methods approach. The study was based on data purposively collected from 65 households and supplemented by 3 key informants from state institutions with a stake in flood management and mitigation in the settlement. Key methods employed in collecting empirical evidence included semi-structured interviews with flood-affected households, in-depth interviews with ward leaders, and state officials and mapping of zones by the severity of flooding. Non-participant observation, primarily taking photographs, complemented these methods. Data was analysed through descriptive statistics, content and narrative analysis. Spatial data were analysed using spatial modelling in GIS. Findings show that the area Councillor, Ward Development Committee (WDC) and Zone Representatives make up the main governance structure in Misisi which are responsible for organising the community to build community-based flood resilience systems. The study identified two flooding zones namely low and highly flooded based on geospatial modelling and the frequency of occurrence of urban flooding in the area. From a total of 4,965 houses in Misisi, 64% of the houses fall in low flood risks areas, while 36% fall in high-risk areas. The community has employed structural and non-structure measures to adapt to floods. The most common adaptation strategies used are the use of sandbags which are placed around their houses; raised pit latrines and doorsteps; construction of embankments, small drainages, protection walls and elevation of house foundations and seasonal temporal displacement. The research findings also revealed that there is a lack of acceptance by the local government of local people’s knowledge and their response to floods. This has resulted in conflicting rationalities between state-led approaches and the community. The conclusion emphasises the need for more attention to flood risk reduction and to working with low-income communities to design flood risk reduction interventions that align closely with the priorities of local communities.
Floods--Social aspects , Floods--Risk assessment. , Floods--Environmental aspects. , Floodplain management. , Flood forecasting--Zambia. , Drought forecasting--Zambia.