ASSESSMENT OF RURAL DWELLERS KNOWLEDGE OF FLOOD COPING STRATEGIES IN ITU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA AKWA IBOM STATE NIGERIA

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ASSESSMENT OF RURAL DWELLERS KNOWLEDGE OF FLOOD COPING STRATEGIES IN ITU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA AKWA IBOM STATE NIGERIA

CHAPTER ONE:

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

According to the UN-ISDR Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015), Community involvement has become one of the chief priorities for establishing effective partnerships for disaster risk reduction. This has witnessed gradual popularity and advocacy for the incorporation of society based knowledge, otherwise known as rural dwellers’ knowledge or indigenous knowledge into the conventional methods of disaster management. 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  “rural dwellers’ knowledge” or ‘indigenous knowledge’.

Over the years, traditional local communities have continued to rely heavily on their own indigenous knowledge systems in observing the environment and dealing with natural disasters (Pareek and Trivedi, 2011). These communities, especially those in hazard prone regions have collectively generated a vast body of knowledge on disaster prevention and mitigation, early warning, preparedness and response and post disaster recovery. Sophisticated knowledge of the natural world is not confined to science. Human societies all across the globe have developed rich sets of experiences and explanations relating to the environments they live in. These ‘other knowledge systems’ are today often referred to as rural dwellers’ knowledge or traditional ecological knowledge or indigenous or local knowledge. They encompass the sophisticated arrays of information, understandings and interpretations that guide human societies around the globe in their innumerable interactions with the natural milieu: in agriculture and animal husbandry; hunting, fishing and gathering; struggles against flooding, disease and injury; naming and explanation of natural phenomena; and strategies to cope with fluctuating environments Nakashima, Prott, and Bridgewater, (2000).

The accumulated knowledge and perceptions of communities ‘at risk’ are recognized as key elements in ameliorating or managing disaster risk at local level, particularly in places where much of the crucial information as well as the technical and economic resources for risk assessments are not otherwise available (Peters, McCall and Western, 2009).The use of indigenous knowledge has been seen by many as an alternative way of promoting development in poor rural communities in many parts of the world (Briggs, 2005). This knowledge is acquired through observation and study, and is often based on cumulative experience handed down from generation to generation. Such traditional environmental knowledge systems are important tools today in environmental conservation and natural disaster management.

Flood as a natural disaster has been perilous to people, communities and institutions, and its impact is spontaneous with multiplier effects.  Recent floods and consequences all over the world are becoming too frequent and a threat to sustainable development in human settlements Kofo (2012). Worldwide, there has been rapid growth in number of people killed or seriously impacted by flood disasters (UN-Water, 2011). Odufuwa et al (2012), throughout history, floods have proven to be the deadliest natural disasters. This is mainly due to the high population densities around rivers. When well-behaved, rivers provide the resources needed for agriculture, transportation, and industry. It is no accident that all of the ancient civilizations rose around rivers.

However, according to Peters, McCall, and Western (2009), coping strategies of the people are very diverse and rely on different factors like culture, social organisation, technology and economy. On the other hand a change in the economy and the social structure affects the indigenous knowledge and often undermines the knowledge system. Moreover indigenous knowledge also varies depending on the natural disaster prevalent in the community, and the most prevalent and devastating is flood. In Nigeria, many communities have developed various indigenous coping strategies that enable them prepare, survive and recover from various disasters like desertification, drought, and flood. The understanding of mechanisms for coping and adaptation of natural phenomena and flooding in particular is very important. This study therefore seeks to document, study and understand the culturally base and indigenous environmental knowledge and flood coping strategies with a view of integrating them into the existing flood control programmes of the Federal Government of Nigeria to enhance their improvement and sustainability and promote environmental safety and socio- economic productivity.

ASSESSMENT OF RURAL DWELLERS KNOWLEDGE OF FLOOD COPING STRATEGIES IN ITU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA AKWA IBOM STATE NIGERIA

ASSESSMENT OF RURAL DWELLERS KNOWLEDGE OF FLOOD COPING STRATEGIES IN ITU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA AKWA IBOM STATE NIGERIA