2.1. Conceptual Framework
Change in the Earth’s climatic system, primarily in the form of extreme climatic events, is generating extensive discussion in both academic and political circles. Hansen, Satoa, and Ruedy [8
] point out, for example, the higher incidence of temperature anomalies over the course of the last thirty years in comparison with the average temperatures of the preceding decades. More detailed statistical analyses indicate that over the last decade, in particular, there have been an increased number of extreme weather events (e.g., Coucou and Rahmstorf [9
Substantial numbers of papers have been published on climate change adaptation, focusing on the situation in developing countries as well as on developed regions; an enumeration of them would exceed the capacity of this paper. The research subjects are extremely diverse, ranging from local adaptation strategies to climate variability in agriculture, such as crop diversification [10
], adaptation to climate extremes in the food system in developing countries [11
], community-based climate change adaptation in small developing island states [12
], historical adaptation processes [13
], an understanding of local time-based practices dealing with threats in a rise to the sea level [14
], migration as a possible adaptive response to risks associated with climate change [15
], and ending with conceptual papers devoted to the framing and conceptions of adaptation [16
], the cultural and social dimensions of adaptation [17
], the economy and the costs of adaptation [18
], and managing adaptation measures from private and public resources [19
]. This overview serves as a basic list which draws from broad climate change adaptation and we will develop the households’ adaptation in more detail in the following chapter.
The increased occurrence of climate extremes has also been registered for a significant period of time within the observed territory. Within the context of Central Europe, Machar and Drobilová [20
] state that based on current measurements, temperatures are increasing by an average of 0.5 °C over 10 years and a further increase is expected. The average temperature has increased by 0.3 °C over recent decades in the Czech Republic. Substantial inter-year and spatial variability needs to be taken into consideration, however. The same characteristics also apply to the frequency, distribution, and volume of rainfall. Their sum total is increasing slightly year by year, although there is considerable variability in their distribution over space and time. This leads to a higher frequency of occurrence of dry periods which alternate with storm rainfalls and subsequent flash floods [20
The need to seek out optimal methods of adaptation for ongoing or projected changes in climatic conditions has been emphasized of late. According to Heffernan [21
], adaptation as a strategy of coping with climate change, in contrast to mitigation strategies, has not remained at the center of scientific focus to date. Recently, however, the reality of climate extremes in the form of events, such as floods, droughts or heat waves [22
], has forced researchers and policy-makers to explore ways of handling these extremes and adaptation to climate change has become more topical and pertinent than ever before.
Generally speaking, adaptation is seen as a common strategy amongst living organisms in adjusting to changing environmental conditions, including those related to climate. Climate change adaptation as a theoretical construct with practical measures is framed more specifically as “an adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate stimuli to their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities” [23
]. A number of regions face significant natural and societal changes due to a combination of increased economic and residential welfare in flood-prone areas and increased societal vulnerability and incapacity to manage climate extremes [24
], climate change, and its impacts.
The IPCC [25
] distinguishes between adaptation approaches which are planned (the result of deliberate policy decision based on an awareness of changing conditions, with the aim of achieving a desired state) and autonomous or spontaneous (adaptation that does not involve a conscious decision but is triggered by environmental change). Anticipatory (proactive) adaptation takes place before the impacts of climate change are observed and also corresponds with sustainability principles, based on a strong preventive and cautious approach.
In addition to the international/national/regional level, community-based adaptation to climate change (CBA) is regarded as a promising approach to adaptation. It aims at incorporating adaptation from the perspective of local communities. Reid and Huq [26
] stress a bottom-up approach and define CBA as “a community-led process, based on communities’ priorities, needs, knowledge, and capacities, which should empower people to plan for and cope with the impacts of climate change”. CBA is also mentioned as an effective adaptation method by the IPCC [1
]. CBA has recently begun to be linked to ecosystem-based adaptation [27
]. From this point of view, the connection between community needs, natural resources management and ecosystem services seems to be extremely promising and indicates a direction moving towards achieving genuine long-term and complex adaptation on regional levels. This area is under-researched in the Czech Republic, particularly from the perspective of economically disadvantaged rural regions.
Van Aalst et al.
] have explored the value of using community risk assessments (CRA) for climate change adaptation which help address community engagement in climate risk reduction particularly in developing countries. On the basis of their experience, CRA is a valuable tool for climate change adaptation, specifically for informing bottom-up approaches to climate change adaptation. While community-based risk reduction is no panacea for all aspects of climate risk, CRAs do already contribute to adaptation to climate change and could play a larger role if employed more systematically.
Based on the level and complexity of adaptation, one can differentiate between short-term (coping)
strategies, residing in simple, short-term, and fairly reactive measures and genuine adaptation strategies (adaptation)
which are focused on complex changes, the long-term effect, and an attempt to preventively avert adverse impacts [1
As concerns focusing on a specific adaptation to a potential flood risk, Mechler and Kundzewicz [29
] have differentiated between protection strategies, accommodation or retreat. A protection strategy
is focused primarily on ensuring a high degree of protection of the population and infrastructure against flood risks, residing in the implementation of “hard” structural measures (barriers, dams, relief channels or retention reservoirs). Although these measures have contributed to reassuring the population and restoring their faith in protection against floods (e.g., Vaishar et al.
]), the reality of flooding events has demonstrated that this strategy does not guarantee complete protection against the consequences of floods and only protects to a certain extent [31
]. An accommodation strategy of floods
or coexistence with floods represents the most commonly used strategy, which involves counting upon a certain degree of flood risk and seeks a combination of structural hard (technical) or soft measures akin to nature through a combination of preventive measures, including the rectification of damages and renewal. The last and relatively radical retreat strategy
entails a withdrawal and a resettlement of the population or relocation of economic activities from risk areas to safer ones. This strategy is problematic from a number of perspectives: the flood territories of rivers have been built on to a large extent in the past, remain attractive for further economic development or settlement and people are relatively reluctant to abandon their place of residence.
Within this context, certain authors such as Vávra et al.
] and Klijn et al.
] point to a recent shift in public perception and water management practice from a narrow hydrological perspective to a broader framing which incorporates climate change risks into policies and legislation.
2.2. Household Adaptation to Climate Change
Preparedness, especially on a local or individual level, specifically the preparedness of households, remains outside the focus of interest. The number of research projects and papers dealing with household adaptation has recently increased. The primary inspiration comes from Great Britain (UK) where the PREPARE project was implemented from 2012 to 2013 [35
]. The project focused on adaptation to floods as well as heat waves and other climate extremes. British researchers distinguish between household coping (short-term) and adaptation (long-term) measures. They pointed out that proactive adaptations involving personal, financial and technical investments were not commonly used; instead, they found that UK households struggled to build long-term adaptive capacity and were reliant upon traditional reactive coping responses. They identified past exposure to extreme weather, pressure of social acceptability, and long-term financial rewards as the main drivers of adaptation. Porter et al.
] have expressed the view that new (state or private) initiatives are needed in order to encourage long-term household adaptation.
Another study from the UK [36
] revealed a fairly low level of willingness to adopt certain flood-protection measures on the part of household residents. The majority held the view that the municipality is responsible for flood risk protection. Researchers have determined that younger respondents and those with a greater awareness of climate change expressed a greater willingness to implement household adaptation measures than others. This demonstrates that the perception of environmental risk plays an important role. The author recommended more effective flood risk communication, information support, and material support for the poorest part of the population. Lane et al.
] similarly explored the rapid shift in the dominant technologies used to map flood risk in the United Kingdom and employed an experimental approach to public participation, tested in two different locations. Both revealed that the state of the socio-environmental context within which the events take place is as significant as the magnitude of the events themselves.
Further relevant observations have emerged from Germany based on household research by Kreibich et al.
] focused in particular on building precautionary measures and construction adjustments. They remarked that households in Dresden which experienced flooding in 2002 adopted one or more precautionary measure after the flood and significantly improved their adaptations. Whereas only 17% of households were prepared in a certain way prior to 2002, the number had increased to 67% by 2005 as a result of the flood experience and improved municipal flood risk management.
] conducted further research in order to detect factors influencing motivation to adopt certain precautionary measures through a component analysis. Correlation and the principal component analysis reveal the slight influence of perception concerning the consequences of climate change on motivation to undertake flood emergency measures. Additional socio-economic factors, however, such as the socio-economic structure of households, including private ownership, and household size (the more people, the greater motivation) are far more important, similarly as with the case of flood experience. Based on this research, she argues that public awareness raising campaigns and schemes utilizing financial and non-financial incentives should be undertaken, directed towards household members.
Those specifically living in a detached dwelling are able to choose a construction solution which reduces or increases its potential resistance to the impact of climate extremes. The technical-architectural concept plays an important role in and of itself. Botzen et al.
] have conducted, for example, an economically-focused study in the Netherlands, in which they determined respondents’ willingness to pay for flood insurance in comparison with their willingness to pay for measures to reduce the flood risk in the form of constructing a raised ground floor to their house. The results demonstrated that approximately 52% of respondents gave priority to a raised ground floor, thereby wishing to actually resolve the problem rather than merely paying for insurance. The authors argue that approach is influenced by previous experience of affected population in the Netherlands where the number of flood events has increased markedly, and people are aware of the risks to a greater extent. It should be stated, however, that only “willingness” was investigated and not actual measures.
Schelfaut et al.
] have specified three dimensions of resilience-relevant measures (an interplay of institutions, flood risk communication and flood modeling tools) and reviewed them with three case studies in Flanders (Belgium), Niedersachsen (Germany), and Calabria (Italy) as part of the FREEMAN project (flood resilience enhancement and management). They concluded that the participation of all stakeholders and bottom-up involvements are considered important factors. Furthermore, techniques to increase participation will increase the ownership of solutions and increase resilience. Increasing the strength of a community is also about increasing the strength and scope of the internal connections between its individuals, organizations, and the physical environment which forms that community.
Each nation or region has, of course, its own specific traditions in terms of house construction, demographics, along with its own social and economic situation. It is consequently of importance to conduct case study-oriented research in order to determine both regional and other specifics and differences and provide new observations and local experience. Although a substantial number of papers deal with climate change adaptation in Western Europe there are, therefore, not many studies focusing on Central and Eastern European countries, and for this reason this paper attempts to contribute to the scant literature on the topic.
It is argued that households represent an important economic and social unit with its behavior and decision-making playing an important role in climate change adaptation. The household strategy is also influenced by how its members perceive the environmental risk of their place of residence or the impact of their activities, or the resources they have available to improve the situation. As outlined for example by Vaishar [30
], with regard to the issue of flooding, people often do not take responsibility for the fact that they live in a flood region and have a tendency to shift the responsibility for flood protection onto regional or state authorities.
Those specifically living in a detached residence are able to choose a construction solution which reduces or increases its potential resistance to the impact of climate extremes. The technical-architectural concept plays an important role in and of itself. Research into construction measures aimed at reducing the flood risk to a certain extent and improving the management of storm rainfall has been conducted, for example, by Kreibich et al.
] who employ the term precautionary measures
. They are part of a small group of authors who describe these measures in a relatively detailed manner based on the economic costs needed for investment. The low-cost measures include the gathering of information related to precautionary measures, the assistance of neighbors, and the relocation of risk objects from the ground floor to safer locations. Medium investments include insurance against floods, adaptations to the interior (e.g., floor replacement), and securing of flood embankments and barriers. High-cost measures include rebuilding the heating system (in order to prevent the risk of its flooding, for example by relocating the boiler from the basement to a higher floor, purchase of a mobile (demountable) boiler, removal of underfloor heating on the ground floor, etc.
). The highest investments involve construction adjustments to the building using solid and water-resistant materials, a raised ground floor, sealing in important parts of the house, fortification of the cellar and foundations of the building and construction of small anti-flood walls on the surrounding lands.
Within the Czech environment, limited research has been conducted on the theme of the impacts of climate extremes and the selection of adaptation measures on the part of households. There are only a few exceptions, for example Duží et al.
], in selected communities within the region in question, or Vaishar et al.
], who focused on a description of several regional case studies on the management of the flood events after 1997 in the Czech Republic and who outlined a progressive method for dealing with this issue, combining a sociological and physical-geographical analysis. The issue of flooding, its historical trend, and comparison has been the subject of studies focused on the catchment basin of the largest rivers, the Morava and Labe [44
]. It is possible from a historically-based observation to identify a trend involving a slightly increasing number of floods, as well as other extremes, primarily drought. Studies from the region on the theme of adaptive measures have focused to date on studying the influence of floods on commuting to work [46
2.3. Household Adaptations in the Czech Republic—Research Design
The following conceptual framework (Figure 1
) describes the research design of the paper in detail. Figure 1
shows the household as the fundamental unit of research and the scope of potential adaptive behavior. The work of Kreibich et al.
] focused on adaptation theory is the basis, specifically household adaptation, along with our own research experience and knowledge. We consequently conducted field observation of house construction practice in the Czech Republic and created our own conceptual framework on the basis of this knowledge and information. This framework thereby incorporates the suggested range of realistic household strategies suitable for the Czech Republic.
Conceptual framework of potential models for household adaptation strategies. Source: own processing.
Conceptual framework of potential models for household adaptation strategies. Source: own processing.
The household strategy may begin with no steps or “resignation” concerning the measures. This is followed by simple, cheap, intuitive, short-term measures (coping strategy), corresponding more with minor adjustments within the interior of the house. More thorough, anticipatory, and financially costly adaptation measures are focused on the building construction of the house, primarily a raised ground floor or the protection of the house against dampness, along with terrain and other adjustments of the surrounding plot (adaptation strategy). The last opportunity consists of the migration strategy which is usually the most complex household adaptation strategy in developed countries. This concerns migration in the case of a significant change to the environment, the loss of a dwelling as a consequence of an extreme natural or anthropogenic event, or the loss of subsistence [47
]. This would represent migration as a response to repeated floods or other climate change impacts in the present case.
After determining the potential drivers which influence adaptation, Grothmann and Reusswig [48
], Kreibich [39
], and other studies dealing with household adaptation were greatly inspirational. The most relevant variables were presented and new ones were added in order to obtain a complete view of the issue and cover the entire range of options. Quantitative variables were initially suggested, such as the number of flood experiences and household location in the risk zone, the level of damage and the share of compensation. Socio-demographic and economic characteristics (age, number of residents, family size, level of education, employment, etc.
) cover information concerning key respondents as well as other household members. They also provide a suitable background for research and detecting key factors. Flood risk perception was also established as a dummy variable. All these variables served in descriptive statistics as well as regression models which allowed us to create a complete picture of the household in the target region.