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1.1 Background of the study

The frequency, magnitude and reach of floods across the World in recent times is of increasing concern to humanity. These concerns arise basically due to the devastation that follows the floods (Askew, 1999; MunichRe 2005). More worrisome is the fact that incidences of recent floods are not limited to coastal or low lying regions but extends to places previously not known for floods (Awosika 2001; Ologunorisa, 2004; Mmom, 2010, Okpala, 2013). Besides, the frequency of floods and dangers arising from flooding appears to be defying human abilities and knowledge to correctly predict with accuracy.

Flooding is one of the most common and devastating environmental hazards today which costs an average of 20,000 lives per year, with over 75 million people world-wide are affected (Smith, 1996). Floods cause about one third of all deaths, one third of all injuries and one third of all damages from natural disasters (Askew, 1999).

MunichRe (2005) specified that economic damage caused by floods is rising. In Nigeria, many marked flood disasters have occurred in her urban areas with 2012 occurrence heightening the need for flood management. Aderogba (2012) in his study of 25 cities/towns in Nigeria, identified the frequency and duration of floods. The study indicated that Anambra State experienced one of the most devastating flood in the country. The high frequency coupled with urbanization aggravates flooding extensively by restricting where flood water can flow (Ojigi et al, 2013). In most cases, the devastation caused by floods especially on households is usually a reflection of their lack of preparedness. According to IFRC, (2007), none preparedness, poor and low budgetary allocation for disaster prevention in developing countries make them experience greatly the impacts of natural disaster. No country is immune to flooding and the impacts are heightened by lack of capacity and preparedness. Hazards cannot be prevented from occurring especially natural hazards such as flooding but the vulnerability associated with flood disaster can be mitigated by adequate preparation. Preparedness action is closely related to how individuals perceive and act on risk information (Tierney, Lindell, and Perry, 2001). Preparedness measures have the big advantage of being able to address root causes and dynamic pressures instead of symptoms in a system, which is more stable than after a disaster (Enenkel, 2010).

In coastal lowlands and swamp lands like Anambra State, flooding is aided by blocked channels and indiscriminate sand filling of coastal swamp areas and natural drainage channel for urban development/constructions aside climate change. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) notes that Anambra State was situated at the lowest point of the River Niger and as such is flood prone. This was the reason why Anambra State was greatly affected by flood especially in 2012. The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) ran into thousands with an estimated 10,000 homes fully or partially submerged. Leading industries in the south of Onitsha Metropolis were submerged and did not work in those periods. The situation for these communities remained dire and very bleak. Homes, farmlands and properties estimated at billions of naira were lost and even lives though minimal.

According to Musa and Omokore (2011), climate change and its effects like flooding is not a completely new idea to Africa and Africans. Natural hazards are not new and people have been living in hazard-prone areas for centuries – in some cases for thousands of years. They have, inevitably, devised their own methods for protecting themselves and their livelihoods. These methods are based on their own skills and resources, as well as their experiences. Their knowledge systems, skills and technologies are usually referred to as ‘indigenous knowledge systems’. Local populations through their indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) have developed and implemented extensive coping strategies that have enabled them reduce their vulnerability to past climate variability and change, which exceed those predicted by models of future climate change. The fact that local communities have survived till today with fast population growth rates testifies that they have developed indigenous mechanisms and strategies to cope with the effects of changes in environmental conditions such as flooding. It has been recommended that community-based coping strategies to flooding should be supported. Nelson, ., Rose grant,  Koo., Robertson, , Sulser, , Zhu, , and Ringler,  (2009).


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Flooding has become one of the most destructive environmental problems pervasive in Anambra state. Over 30% of the inhabitants of Anambra state live along the riverine area and survive mainly on fishing and agriculture. The problem of flooding due to sea-level rise and storm surges constitute a significant source of threat to life, property, livelihoods, and infrastructure in the riverine region (Ezirim, 2010). According to Nwilo (2011), a large percentage of the landmass of Umuleri was inundated by the 2012 flood, this constitutes land area flooded and people were made refugees and lost their means of livelihood in this community. Unfortunately, most of these areas inundated are places where these towns carryout most of their economic activities like agricultural activities, fishing, industrialization, transportation activities and trading. The implications of this are that the inhabitants of the area and even people from distant places who depend on these activities are in serious danger of losing their means of livelihoods (NEMA, 2012)

No fewer than 120 shops were flooded at the International Electronics Market, Onitsha, Anambra. (Daily Sun, October 14, p.5, in Ugwu, L.1., and Dorothy, I. U, 2013)

Anam community which is a low level land is a clan located on the peninsula in Anambra State South East Nigeria, bounded by both the River Niger and the Anambra River have annually been ravaged by flood with enormous damages done to infrastructures, farmlands, shops, schools, etc. this flood arises from the overflowing of the River banks by the two Rivers in the area which usually come between the months of August and October (NEMA, 2012).

It is however important to note that the knowledge of how vulnerable people respond to a threat is essential. Outside interventions can then be built on these local strategies. Local populations through their indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) have developed and implemented extensive coping strategies that have enabled them reduce their vulnerability to past climate variability and change, which exceed those predicted by models of future climate change. According to Nelson (2009), the survival of local communities till today amidst fast population growth rates testifies that they have developed indigenous mechanisms and strategies to cope with the effects of changes in environmental conditions such as flooding. The indigenous knowledge of people represents experience gained over thousands of years of direct human contact with the encompassing environment. The local people have gradually developed enormous volumes of knowledge about their local environments over the centuries by directly interacting and experiencing with the environment, for instance, knowledge about the soil, climate, water, forest, wildlife, minerals etc. in the locality. This is the endowed wisdom of people which implies a refined ecological awareness of the nonlinear nature of our environment shaping and organizing the livelihood strategies of people. People’s preferences for coping response or risk management are derived from various combinations of perceived risk-benefit trade-offs based on their knowledge and experience. Social actions to cope with risk are not confined to the simple goal of risk minimisation but include other purposes such as equity, fairness, flexibility, or resilience. The practice of risk minimization, therefore, implies a clear distinction between knowledge traditions of scientists or experts and lay community people (Nelson et al. 2009).

Given the increasing expressed patterns of damages caused by flooding in recent times, one begins to worry greatly about the effectiveness of these indigenous coping strategies which according to Nelson et al is essential for the management and control of hazards.

On this extent that this work seeks to critically evaluate the indigenous coping strategies in flood management and control in some selected flood prone communities in Anambra State prior to 2012 and from 2012 till date.


1.3 Objectives of the study

The broad objective of this study was to critically examine the indigenous coping strategies in flood management and control in selected communities in Anambra State. Specifically, the objectives of this research are:

  1. To evaluate the effectiveness of indigenous coping strategies adopted in flood management and control prior to 2012.
  2. To evaluate the effectiveness of indigenous coping strategies in containing the 2012 flooding in the communities.











1.4 Research Questions

In line with the objectives above, the following research questions were formulated to guide this research work:

  1. How effective are the indigenous coping strategies in the management and control of flooding prior to 2012?
  2. To what extent are the indigenous coping strategies effective in managing recent flooding in the communities?

1.5 Hypotheses

Ho1: Indigenous coping strategies were not able to minimize the extent of damages caused by flooding prior to 2012.

Ho2: Indigenous coping strategies are not sufficient enough in managing recent flooding in the communities.


1.6 Significance of the study

Considering the fact that flooding has come to stay not just in Nigeria but the world atlarge as a result of climate change, there is need for a comprehensive approach in adopting strategies for management and control of flooding. This study will be significant first to the flood prone communities in the study area as it will help to increase their awareness of the reality and effect of flooding on their livelihood and to improve or adopt more effective strategies for flood management and control. The conclusions arrived at this study will help Emergency Management Agencies, Government and Policy Makers to adopt a comprehensive disaster management approach which will incorporate indigenous knowledge in disaster management. More so, it is hoped that this research will contribute to existing knowledge in the field of flood management and control, sustainable disaster management and rural development. Finally, the study will serve as a veritable source of information for individuals, households, communities, etc. on how to effectively cope with flooding.

1.7 Scope of the study

The study is focused on examining the indigenous coping strategies in flood management and control adopted by some flood prone communities in Anambra State. Three flood prone communities were selected for this study due to their susceptibility to flooding (NEMA, 2012).

  1. Onitsha is known as the commercial and industrial hub of the state
  2. Umueleri is known as one of the most vibrant fishing communities in the state
  3. Umueze Anam is known to be responsible for the cultivation of over 70% of the food produced in Anambra State