Analysing Vulnerabilities of local communities to flood disasters in the Lower Rufiji Floodplain, Tanzania

Johnstone M. Andrea, Richard Y.M. Kangalawe


Climate change scenario shows that areas with bimodal rainfall pattern and major river
basins including the Rufiji basin are anticipated to receive an increase of rainfall
intensity by 5% to 45%, with a decrease of raining seasons. This incident is expected to
upsurge the frequency and magnitude of extreme flood events and cause serious
devastations to vulnerable communities. This paper examined the progression of
factors causing community vulnerability to flood disasters as basis for developing
appropriate flood risk reduction strategies. Data collection methods involved
household survey, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, remote sensing and
hydrological analysis. The household survey and hydrological data were analysed using
Statistical Packages for Social Science and Trend Analysis software. Data from focus
group discussion and interviews were triangulated with community during
participatory discussions. Results showed high degree of community vulnerability to
flood impacts extending from geographical, social, economic, political and
environmental factors. The catchment delineation model showed that the community
is geographically located in flood hazardous areas because the river networks flow into
the study area. Also, severity of flood impacts was locally related by the recent influx of
cattle in the area which has contributed to land degradation, increased runoff and
siltation of the Rufiji river. Furthermore, lack of access to social services such as
education, health, water and sanitation facilities were found to largely reduce socioeconomic
abilities while illuminating underlying vulnerabilities of study communities to flood impacts.
The findings suggested combining underlying and immediate factors in reducing future community
vulnerability to flood disasters.


Climate change; Vulnerability; Flood disaster; Community vulnerability;
Floodplain, Rufiji.

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