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Living with Flood Risk: Learning from Households’ Preparedness, Adaptation and Resilience (PAR) in Takeo Province, Cambodia

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posted on 2024-03-18, 09:15 authored by Denise M. J. Corsel

Background: Floods are generally associated with negative impacts, which are well documented in terms of economic loss, loss of lives, livelihoods, and impact on health (Few and Matthies, 2006; CRED, 2018). In contrast, there is limited research that documents the positive impacts of floods on lives and livelihoods. This research endeavoured to contribute to this knowledge gap by adopting an exploratory case study design involving four research questions in the context of the annually flooded locale of Takeo Province, Cambodia. Research Question 1 studies the impacts/contribution of floods on sustainable livelihoods. Research Question 2 explores the effectiveness of plans and policies in supporting livelihood outcomes, while Research Question 3 focuses on how class, gender and age facilitate flood management and livelihood outcomes. The final Research Question explores the lessons learnt from Takeo’s livelihood strategies to enhance preparedness, adaptation and resilience (PAR) at large.

Methodology: Mixed methods field research was conducted in three interrelated phases from March 2019 to February 2020 to gain an in-depth insight of Takeo Province’s flood situation and experiences. Mainly qualitative methods were used (observations, documentation analysis, interviews with three Village Chiefs, ten informant interviews, and six in-depth household interviews with participatory mapping), with the support of quantitative methods (108 structured household interviews). Results: There are numerous benefits of flooding to farming (such as improved soil quality, agriculture production and water access) and fishing (including the maintenance of the riverine system), as well as other livelihoods in Takeo. These benefits were found to contribute substantially to the main livelihood outcomes of increased income and food security. While the prevalent plans and policies appeared to be limited in their effectiveness of supporting livelihood outcomes in flood situations, the existing local social support networks proved particularly instrumental in improving livelihood outcomes. Flood management is predominantly done at grassroots level. All citizens concerned, whether women, men, girls or boys, were found to have their own roles and responsibilities to facilitate livelihoods and to manage the benefits of floods.

Conclusion: Takeo’s citizens have pro-actively adapted their lives and livelihoods in such a way that they are able to reap the benefits of annual flooding. Thereby, the benefits of floods appear to outweigh the negatives, as the citizens have over time developed tailored adaptive livelihood and flood management strategies towards improving their own resilience. The research findings identify scope for further enhancement of Cambodia’s disaster management policy, with a clearer focus on optimising livelihoods while living with annual floods. Furthermore, this research contributes to extending the body of limited literature on the positives of floods, and this is not only with relevance for Takeo Province and other rural areas in Cambodia, but also towards a deeper theoretical and practical understanding related to sustainable livelihoods framework, rural development and resilience in the context of other rural flood-prone locales worldwide.

History

Supervisor(s)

Nibedita Ray-Bennett; Georgios Patsiaouras; Peter Jackson

Date of award

2024-02-01

Author affiliation

School of Business

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

Language

en

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