Disasters can be defined as a serious disruption of the functioning of a society, causing widespread human, material, or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected society (or community) to cope using only its own resources (UNISDR, 2009, p 9). Karonga is one of the districts in Malawi that does experience disasters yearly, especially flood hazards. People who are living in the valleys of north Rukuru River and those from Simion village (Ngerenge) are ones that are mostly affected. Floods have caused significant loss of life and property damage to these areas and this is a worrisome development to the government as a lot of resources are pumped in to assist the flood victims. Due to floods the security of the people is compromised and it’s a concern especially to the resource constrained Malawi Police Service who are the first respondents to flood victims. Although these floods have caused untold sufferings to the people, surprisingly people are still residing in these risky areas, thus it is of great interest to investigate the factors that make people to continue living in these disaster prone areas in Karonga district (Rappaport and Sachs 2003; Kahn 2005; Pielke, Jr. et al. 2008).
1.2 Background to the study
Malawi is prone to flash floods during the rainy seasons. In 2012, the country received heavy rains and storms in many parts of the country. This led to flash floods, and loss of lives, injuries and destruction of infrastructure, including roads, houses, school blocks and gardens. Almost ten districts were affected. In districts like Thyolo and Karonga heavy rains accompanied with strong winds blew off house roofs, and according to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs this affected 12,877 households throughout the country (IFRC).
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In 2015 the President Peter Mutharika declared a State of Emergency due to floods in these districts: Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe, Zomba, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Mulanje, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Salima, Rumphi and Karonga (OCHA 14/01/2015, GDACS 14/01/2015).
Karonga town and the surrounding areas are vulnerable to floods, in 1979–1980; floods damaged most of the old town and led to the relocation of the commercial centre to the current site. Between 2009 and 2016, Karonga experienced floods annually and sometimes more than once a year and in 2017 the district received heavy rains which led to floods, displacing 8000 household in the process. The worst affected areas were in traditional authorities Wasambo, Mwirang’ombe, Kyungu, Kilupula and Mwakaboko.
Several studies have been conducted in the district in relation to the phenomena, but none have tackled on why people continue to reside in floods prone areas. It is therefore against this background that the proposed study would take the discourse to investigate the factors that make people to continue living in floods prone areas in Karonga district.
1.3 Problem statement
Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters, except fire. Most communities in Karonga do experience some kind of flooding during the rainy season. Since 2012 Karonga has been experiencing Floods which has led to loss of lives and destruction of property; for instance in 2017 four people were reported dead and three others were missing. Floods lead to economic losses to the victims as well as to the Malawi government.
The government of Malawi has been urging its people to move out of flood prone areas and relocate to safer places but this effort has always been met with resistance. People continue to live in these floods prone areas with some constructing new houses thereby putting their lives at risk. This trend derails the development of the country since a lot of resources are pumped in to assist the victims during floods.
According to Hagman (1984) disasters occur only when people are exposed and vulnerable to these natural phenomena. Despite government’s efforts the number of vulnerable people is generally increasing, it is therefore, against this background that the proposed study seeks to understand why people continue to live in flood prone areas, the case study of Karonga district.
1.4 Main Objective
To investigate the factors that makes people to continue living in flood prone areas
1.5 The specific objectives
To explore the factors that motivates people to continue living in flood prone areas
To identify the challenges that people living in flood prone areas experience
To assess existing policy options that are used in assisting people who live in flood prone areas.
1.6 Research Questions
Why do people choose to continue living in flood prone areas?
What are the challenges that people living in flood prone areas face?
Are there any policy options that are used in the provision of assistance to those living in flood prone areas, during floods?
1.7 Significance of the study
The findings from this study will be beneficial to the security sector actors in Malawi, citizens and all relevant stakeholders by way of enriching their understanding on reasons why people choose to continue living in flood prone areas. This may further assist policy makers to come up with better strategies that would ably assist those who still live in disaster prone areas. Since most studies have focused on risk reductions during flood induced disasters, this study will set a platform for other relevant academic studies to be conducted hence increase academic pool of knowledge.
2.0 Literature Review and Theoretical Framework
This chapter will guide the study of an investigation into factors that make people to continue living in flood prone areas in Karonga district. The chapter discusses available literature that is related to the proposed study globally, Africa and in Malawi to understand the reasons why people continue to live in flood prone areas. The main purpose is to discover and learn on what has been written on the topic. Literature will also enable the researcher to appreciate how flood induced disasters has greatly affected the well-being of people.
2.2 Conceptual Framework
There are many definitions of a disaster; the definitions used seem dependent upon the discipline using the term. No definition of “disaster” is accepted universally. Cuny defined a disaster as: “a situation resulting from an environmental phenomenon or armed conflict that produced stress, personal injury, physical damage, and economic disruption of great magnitude.” Perez and Thompson in their series on Natural Disasters, define a disaster as: “the occurrence of widespread, severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property, with which the community cannot cope, and during which the affected society undergoes severe disruption.” Both of these definitions note that a disaster disrupts the society stricken by the event. It should be noted that it is the damage that results from the impact on society that constitutes the disaster, not the event that is the disaster.
All disasters are related to a specific hazard or combinations of hazards whether of a natural phenomenon or a result of human actions. A hazard is anything that may pose a danger; thus, has the potential to adversely affect human health, property, activity, and/or the environment. Often, a hazard can be described as contained energy. Hazards are classified as to type. The specific hazards to which we are exposed vary in space and time. They also may vary between different populations: what is recognized as a hazard in one community may not be so in another. A hazard that has not converted into an event cannot become a disaster.
However, the study will focus on the factors that make people to continue living in disaster prone areas and not necessarily on disasters as outlined above.
2.3 Theoretical Framework
The deviant place theory states that the greater the exposure that people make to dangerous places the more likely people will become victims. The presence of people in flood prone areas does not encourage floods disasters to happen but they are prone to these disasters because they continue to reside in these high risky areas where they have the greatest risk of coming into contact with flood hazards which induces disasters. This proposed study will base its findings on the theory of deviant place theory because victimization is primarily a function of where people live.
2.4 Empirical Evidence
Nina Gustafsson ; Ville Niskala conducted a study under the topic “Why do people live in high-risk rural areas?” In Tubu, Botswana and discovered that livelihood, belonging, services and nowhere to go. However there are many underlying social issues that the researcher did not find out.
A field study conducted by Samuel Gren ; Simon Helander in Sammar in the Philippines, however similar to the one conducted in Botswana outlined similar results. The study “Why do people live in high-risk areas?” discovered that people lived in these areas for a number of reasons ranging from social, economic and political. From analysis of gathered data, the following four categories explain why people live in high-risk areas; livelihood, family, community and insensibility to risk.
A study conducted by Askman Johan;Nilson, Olof and Becker, per (2018) in Akuressa, Sri Lanka “why people live in flood prone areas” discovered that people live in these areas because of a sense of place, difficulties relocating, being well-adapted to the situation and an overall good living situation.
These studies correlated in most of the results on why people live in disaster prone areas. These studies linked on livelihood and a sense of belonging. While those conducted in Botswana and Sri Lanka discovered other reasons as to why people live in high risky areas. In Botswana people live in these areas because they have nowhere to go. In Sri Lanka people live in these areas because they are well adapted and have difficulties to relocate.
Malawi is prone to disasters more especially during the rainy season. However there has been no any single study in Malawi on why people continue to live in flood prone areas. As discussed above reason as to why people reside in disaster prone areas may differ from place to place because of social, economic and political conditions. From this empirical evidence it can be deduced that indeed deviant place theory can be used as conceptual framework for this study that can explain why people continue to live in flood prone areas.
The study employs the deviant place theory as a construct to draw an understanding on what factors make people to continue living in disaster prone areas in Karonga district. The literature review has revealed that most of the findings were based on social factors, so it is the aim of this study to come up with economic and political factors on the reasons why people continue to live in flood prone areas in Karonga district. Several studies have been conducted in Karonga district but they all focused on disaster risk management none conducted a study on could be the contributing factors that make people to continue living in flood prone areas in the district. It is therefore the aim of this study to found out reasons so as to why people continue to live in flood prone areas so as to bridge the gap that has been there between the service providers and the flood victims.
This chapter discusses the methods which will be used to collect data. It is referred to methodology because the term implies how the study will be carried out. This chapter therefore looks at the research design, sample design, study area, data collection, and data analysis technique, validity of the research and then ethical considerations of the study.
3.2 Research Design
Study design is a plan or blue print of how a researcher intends to conduct his or her research (Burns and Grove, 2003). This is an exploratory study that will employ a qualitative approach. It is exploratory as the emphasis is to discover ideas and insights on why people continue to live in flood prone areas in Karonga. The use of qualitative approach will expose respondents to explain their feelings, attitudes and experiences on the proposed subject matter.
3.3 Sample design
In this proposed study, the researcher is targeting a total sample of 50 respondents. (30) Respondents from the affected villages, (5) community leaders, (5) members of the Malawi police service, (5) members from the Malawi defense forces, (2) officials from department of disaster management affairs (DoDMA) (2) members from the District Council office and (1) member from the department of climate change and meteorological services.
The study will adopt a non- probability purposive sampling method. Purposive sampling technique has been adopted because it will help the researcher to collect information from specific types of people and institutions who can provide desired information.
3.4 Data Collection techniques
Primary data will collected through unstructured interviews which will involve people from the affected villages, community leaders, Senior Police Officers from Karonga police station and Kapolo police post members of the Malawi police service, members from the Malawi defense forces, officials from the department of disaster management affairs (DoDMA), members from the District Council office and a member from the department of climate change and meteorological services. This will enable the researcher to directly interact with the respondents and collect rich information based on their knowledge concerning the phenomena.
3.5 Data Analysis
Data collected will be analyzed through content analysis which will involve summarizing key findings from the interviews. Microsoft excel package will also be used to come up with charts and graphs.3.6 Limitations
Since this research will be conducted for academic purposes, the main limitation of the study will be time to fully collect the required data as this would mean conflicts with work related activities. The other limitation would be that of communication in terms of language (Ngonde).
3.7 Documentary review
The researcher will also engage in relevant written and electronic materials available within our libraries, specifically Mzuzu University Library and the national library service. These will enable a researcher to have access to information which will be unavailable during data collection process and period.
3.8 Validity and Reliability
Pre-testing of the interview guide will be conducted within Karonga especially in the surrounding villages. This will assist the researcher to make some corrections on the questions that seem not to be clear or even not understood by the respondents.
3.9 Ethical Consideration
This research will involve human beings who have the right to privacy and protection from any harm. Permission will be sought from the department of governance, peace and security studies, the Malawi Police Service and all other institutions that are to be studied. Participants in the study will also be given an opportunity to give an informed consent to participate in the study. Any data collected which refers to individuals will be handled with anonymity and confidentiality.
3.10 Budget and Justification
Description Quantity Amount in Kwacha Reams at K4, 00.00 each 2 K8, 000.00 Ball point pens at K150. Each 10 K1, 500.00 File folders at K2, 00.00 each 4 K8, 000.00 Transport for data collection within Karonga K50, 000.00 Airtime K20, 000.00 Printing K25, 000.00 Total K112, 500.00 3.11 Conclusion
It is clear that not everyone would want to stay at their current location and there are some psychological biases and cognitive aspects that can explain how they rationalize the decision to live in flood prone areas. The findings of this field study will increase the knowledge and help policy makers to come up with new strategies of how best to assist those who reside in flood prone areas in Karonga as well as in Malawi as a whole.
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