An ethical assessment of human adaptation to annual floods in Mongu's Barotse Floodplain and its impct on environment

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Mutonga, Mutonga
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The main aim of this research was to carry out an ethical assessment of the manner in which humans living in Mongu’s Barotse floodplain have adapted to annual floods and how these strategies have affected the human and natural environment. The methodology of the study was a descriptive study using qualitative methods and involving an ethical evaluation. Primary data was collected using observation, in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. The total sample of 90 was comprised of Mongu’s Barotse floodplain residents, local leaders, and officials from government and non-governmental organizations. The theoretical framework for the study was the environmental land ethic theory and an extended form of utilitarian theory and an ethical assessment of the data was made on the basis of these two theories. The findings of the study revealed that flood events have increased in occurrence and in extent covering areas that never experienced floods before in Mongu’s Barotse floodplain. These floods have had diverse impacts on both the human inhabitants and the natural environment that are both positive and negative. Among the positive impacts were rejuvenating soil fertility, easing movements, increasing fishing and promoting the local culture in the Kuomboka cultural ceremony. The negative impacts included destruction of houses and property, crops, grazing lands, reduced cultivable land, siltation/sedimentation and submerging of burial sites. The study has also revealed that floods have increased epidemics and waterborne diseases.The study findings further revealed that the humans in Mongu’s Barotse floodplain have adapted to the annual floods by building villages on mounds, raising the grounds of villages, vacating the flooded plain to higher grounds, fishing, making advance preparations in agriculture, keeping cattle, hunting and conducting economic enterprises. The study concluded that both the land ethic and the extended form of utilitarian theory justified the adaptation strategies undertaken by the inhabitants of Mongu’s Barotse floodplain.Based on the findings, a number of recommendations were made to the government and the BRE as to how improvements might be made for the future.
Floods-Zambia , Flood Plain Management , Floods-Social Aspects-Zambia