In June, India and Nepal were hit by severe and unexpected monsoon rains that caused landslides, destroying villages and killing over 1,000 people. And earlier this month, over 150 people were killed in an event has been described as one of the country’s most destructive natural disaster of the year.
How do we reduce and prevent such extreme damage in vulnerable parts of the world like those of Southeast Asia?
In the aftermath of the disastrous 2010 floods in the Indus Basin of Pakistan, Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) set out to work with researchers from Pakistan’s Institute of Social and Environmental Transition (ISET) to understand who was most vulnerable to the floods and why these populations were more prone to long-term damage.
The research reveals the causes of such destruction in Pakistan and the ways through which governments and policymakers could respond. ISET set out to respond to a changing climate – increased rainfall, melting glaciers – and to bring some of Pakistan’s most vulnerable into the decision-making process.
Can lessons gleaned by ISET from the aftermath of the 2010 Pakistan floods help India, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Cameroon, and elsewhere in the world, recover more quickly from natural disasters?
Here are some of ISET’s main findings:
- Researchers found that households with six or more members that subsisted solely on farming were most affected over the long term. Diversifying sources of income helped families survive better.
- Lack of access to healthcare, education, off-farm employment, social networks, and political instability increased the vulnerability of Pakistan villages.
- ISET found that improvements to food and water security, housing construction, local infrastructure, and communications networks could improve local responses to extreme weather events.
- Finally, researchers sought to understand the role that women played in decision-making in the aftermath of the floods. In short, women’s mobility and ability to participate in recovery and coping strategies was limited. In part, research showed that women’s mobility was constrained; high flood waters and the inability to swim prevented them from accessing services like healthcare, but the local context of purdah also meant that they were culturally bound to the home.
For more information and for journalists who would like to speak to researchers working on flood management and damage prevention projects supported by IDRC in Asia, please contact
Senior Media Advisor / Conseillère principale aux médias
International Development Research Centre | Centre de recherches pour le développement international
Email: [email protected]
Websites: www.idrc.ca/idrcexperts and www.crdi.ca/expertsducrdi