Floods are natural hazards which have severe adverse consequences on property, infrastructure, livelihood, livestock, human lives, human health, the environment, cultural heritage, and economic activity. Across the globe, annual flooding leads to the loss of about 20,000 lives and negatively impacts 20 million people [1
], which is predicted to rise during the next decade [1
]. It has adversely affected over 2.8 billion people since 1990 across the world [2
]. Losses of life and property due to flood events is largely due to inadequate structural and non-structural measures, and incompetent and inefficient policy responses [3
In Pakistan, the floods of 2010 and 2013 caused a lot of damage [5
]. Floods generally cause damage to homes and businesses situated in the natural floodplains of rivers [8
]. Floods also result in the displacement of people, infrastructure damage (such as destruction of roads), loss of crops, cattle, and livestock and these losses delay ongoing development and political processes [9
] which in turn have serious implications for food security, particularly in poor and developing countries [9
Quickly draining the flood water or storing it temporarily and constructing dams and walls to protect life and property was the conventional approach to flood-risk management. However, under an integrated flood-management approach, land, and water resources in the river basin are managed judiciously to make the most efficient use of floodplains and reduce the loss of life and property [11
Previous research results show that increasing tree cover has a small but statistically significant effect on reducing channel discharge [12
]. Planting trees reduces exposure to the flood, thereby reducing damage from the flood. As the risk is a function of hazard, vulnerability, and exposure, the damage from the flood is generally proportional to the reoccurrence period [13
Experience with the risk and strategies to manage the risk affects the perception towards risk, which generally influences the resilience and the risk-mitigating strategies adopted by the household and community. The ability of a community to mitigate, manage with, and recuperate from adverse effects of floods depends on the perception and impression of the community about events [14
Pakistan is a flood-prone country with a history of widespread and repeated flooding that causes loss of lives, substantial damage to property, infrastructure, loss of agricultural crops, and land [15
]. It has two dominant types of floods: riverine and flash.
Flooding is a frequently occurring and catastrophic natural threat in Pakistan, but the nature of the flood varies geographically [16
]. Table 1
shows that a 2010 flood disaster was massive, killing more than 1700 people, affecting over 20% of the land area and more than 20 million people, and causing billions of dollars of loss through damages to infrastructure, housing, agriculture and livestock, and other family assets [17
]. It destroyed more than two million homes, two million hectares of standing crops, and 1.2 million head of livestock. The overall loss of sugar cane, paddy, and cotton was estimated at 13.3 million MT [18
The recent flood of September 2015 hit all of Pakistan, resulting in the deaths of 367 individuals. Over 2.5 million people were affected by the floods and rains, and 129,880 houses were partially damaged or entirely destroyed [19
]. The estimated recovery effort was about US$
439.7 million. The agricultural sector was the most affected: around one million acres of standing crops were destroyed, and 250,000 farmers were affected [19
]. As agriculture contributes about 21% to Pakistan’s GDP, 43% to employment, and 60% of the export earnings [19
], the adverse impact of flooding on the agricultural sector is likely to severely affect livelihoods, poverty and the economy of Pakistan.
Against the backdrop of the frequency of floods and its devastating impact on the economy and lives of the people in developing countries, it is important to understand the impact of floods, particularly localized floods that do not reach to the attention of the national government and international agencies, as well as the mechanisms that households adopt to manage localized flood risk. The contribution of this paper is twofold: firstly to the best of our knowledge this is the first paper that assesses the household-level impact of localized floods; secondly using primary household-level data, it explores the strategies adopted by rural farm households to mitigate the effect of localized floods and the factors influencing this adoption. In this paper, the impact of localized floods is estimated on crop yield, household income, and food security levels. A comprehensive cross-sectional data set was collected from 812 households. The data was collected from all the four provinces of Pakistan: Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Balochistan. The empirical analysis was carried out by employing the propensity score matching approach.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows: in Section 2
, brief review of literature is provided, in Section 3
materials and methods are outlined, in Section 4
results and discussion are presented, and in Section 5
the conclusion along with some policy recommendations is presented.
2. Review of Literature
The frequency of occurrence of floods in the region in general and Pakistan, in particular, has considerably increased in the past several years because of rapid climate change [20
]. Because of this, Pakistan has faced a series of flood events since 2010, indicating that floods are now a regular occurrence in the country. Today, flooding affects people across the globe and particularly in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, more frequently than before [20
]. Since 1960 Pakistan has suffered a cumulative financial loss of more than US$
38.17 billion, approximately 12,330 people have lost their lives, some 197,275 villages have been damaged or destroyed, and an area more than 616,598km2
has been affected due to 24 major flood events [22
There are two main categories of floods: natural floods, which are usually due to heavy rainfall and snowmelt and floods due to human activities, such as the failure of dikes and other protective structures. Floods may result from the overflowing of a vast body of water over land and extreme hydrological events or an unusual presence of water on land to a depth which affects normal activities [23
]. They also occur as a result of climatological and hydrological extremes as well as human activities on drainage basins [24
]. Due to changing climatic conditions, natural disasters, particularly flooding, are occurring quite frequently [25
], which can cause serious damage in the form of infrastructure destruction, human and livestock casualties as well as damage to crops.
Floods also lead to health problems. For example, a study found that floods cause extensive disease and mortality across the world, and the impact of floods on the community is dependent on the topography of the area and its human demographics [26
]. Lack of understanding and preparedness exacerbate the adverse impact of floods, particularly among poor and illiterate families in developing countries.
As the risk is a function of hazard, vulnerability, and exposure, the damage of the flood is generally proportional to the reoccurrence period [13
]. Flood risk-mitigation measures should, therefore, firstly focus on reducing exposure to floods by building dykes or dams, building terraces, or planting trees. Secondly, it should focus on reducing vulnerability and building resilience through insurance, early warning systems, government support mechanisms, and community preparedness.
As floods have severe consequences in the lives and livelihoods of people living in the fragile areas of developing countries [10
], the adoption of integrated and economical approaches to mitigate the effects of floods is crucial. It is of paramount importance for individuals and the government to prepare for these unforeseen circumstances.
Studies have found that individuals’ perception of flood risk is one of the critical factors influencing the adoption of non-structural strategies to mitigate the impact of flooding [27
]. The perception and impression of the flood also help the community recuperate from the adverse effects of floods [14
]. If an individual perceives flooding as a risky event, it is highly likely that an individual will adopt flood risk mitigation measures [28
]. However, various research found a statistically weak relationship between risk perception and mitigation behaviours [27
]; this may be because, after implementation of the flood risk-mitigation measures, risk perception decreases [30
Planting trees helps to protect the farm and property of the household by decreasing the exposure to and reducing the intensity of the flood. From 7 eligible studies of 156 papers reviewed, results show that increasing tree cover has a small statistically significant effect on reducing channel discharge [12
]. Therefore, reducing deforestation and propagating aforestation seems to be a cheap and soft non-structural adaptation mechanism to combat flooding.
Insurance is also an emerging option for adaptation against flood risks. Well designed insurance could play a significant role in mitigating the adverse effect of the flood and protect livelihoods and communities [32
]. Although insurance is a useful instrument to cope with risk, individuals are sometimes reluctant to purchase any if the cost of insurance is higher than the flood risk [33
]. Besides providing financial protection against the risk of flooding, insurance can also play a role by encouraging prevention, preparedness, and response measures [34
]. At times flood risk insurance may act as moral hazard and increase exposure to risk [16
]. For example, as an individual can get new items for the damaged items, they have less incentive to protect items or reduce exposure to the risk [36
]. In order for flood risk insurance to be incorporated into flood risk-management practices, it is essential that the dweller of the floodplain find this option acceptable [16
]; awareness of risks, appropriate premiums, affordability, and backing by the government may enhance the acceptability of insurance as a risk-mitigation strategy.
Following some renewed attention on non-structural flood risk mitigation measures implemented at the household level, there has been an increased interest in the socio-economic and perceptual factors that influence precautionary behavior [37
]. Pakistan’s approach to flood management planning is found to be largely inadequate, and this inadequacy is mainly attributed to missing links in policy formulation and planning processes, along with a lack of institutional coordination [41
]. The existing flood management framework in Pakistan underestimates the importance of community participation in flood risk-mitigation planning [21
]. Pakistan, despite being the second largest recipient of adaptation funding after Bangladesh, is one of the least adaptive countries in the world.
There is a lack of effective coordination among institutions involved in flood management, caused in part by limitations of technical capacities such as dissemination of early warnings, disaster preparedness measures, emergency response, and structural measures for flood mitigation. In addition, local communities do not have enough disaster preparedness information, and there is a lack of awareness-raising, sensitization, and education of the population regularly affected by floods.
The damage resulting from national-level floods has been described and discussed by a number of researchers, but the impact of localized floods have not been well documented, and they go unnoticed in the research. Although localized floods occur quite frequently in rural areas and adversely impact the lives and livelihood of rural farm households, they do not catch national-level attention, as the geographical spread is smaller, and the level of intensity is lower. As a result, farmers do not receive any post and ex-ante support to cope with localized floods. Although a number of studies have focused on the impact of climate change and environmental hazards, there are hardly any studies which have focused on localized floods or limited-scale natural disasters, which have a significant impact on rural communities. Although we cannot stop the flood, we could put measures in place to mitigate the impact of floods and provide support to those families affected. Against this backdrop of losses and the need for assessing the impact, this paper attempts to assess the impact of the localized flood and the adaptation strategies adopted by farm households to cope with flood shocks.
5. Conclusions and Policy Recommendation
Using primary data sets collected from all provinces of Pakistan, this paper analyzes the determinants of the adoption of strategies for coping with localized floods and the impact of localized floods on farmers’ income, poverty, wheat, maize, and rice yield, and food security. We used a multivariate probit model to assess the determinants and PSM to investigate the impact of localized floods. Crop and livestock insurance, bund-making, land-leveling, and tree plantation were the primary strategies adopted by farm households to cope with localized floods. This study found that education and wealth were the most important drivers for the adoption of these strategies. More prosperous and educated households are more likely to adopt strategies to cope with localized floods. Localized floods have an adverse impact on the well-being and the livelihoods of rural farm households. The empirical results show that localized floods reduce the yield, food security, and income, and increase poverty levels. Hence policy should enhance the farm household capability to cope with localized floods. Among the different coping strategies, the trees plantation has been judged as the number one strategy, followed by crop and livestock insurance, land-leveling, and bund-making, respectively.
National-level floods attract the attention of various stakeholders, while localized floods are mostly unnoticed. Due to localized floods, maize yields are lowered, in the range of 2.53–3.11 maunds per acre. Rice yields are also decreased, in the range of 2.07–2.015 maunds per acre. Rice is an important food and cash crop, and this lowered yield has severe implications for rural households’ livelihoods and food security levels. Although localized floods can have implications for all categories of farmers, this is especially the case for small-scale farmers as they are more vulnerable and have less extensive landholding and fewer assets.
From the empirical findings, it can be concluded that to minimize the impact of localized floods, the flood risk management practices need to be scaled out among the farming community through the agricultural extension department as well as other departments. Further research needs to explore the role of social safety nets, such as crop and livestock insurance schemes, in mitigating the risk of localized floods. Through the engagement of community-based organizations, participatory approaches need to be adopted to combat the risks of localized floods. As tree plantation has been regarded as the best mitigating strategy, campaigns need to be initiated to plant more trees to reduce the risk of localized floods.