Environment and Ecology Research Vol. 6(3), pp. 137 - 146
DOI: 10.13189/eer.2018.060301
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Theory and Practice of Vulnerability to Disasters in Flood Prone Areas in Chikwawa, Malawi

J. Mtembenuzeni , J. Kushe *
Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Mzuzu University, Private Bag 201, Luwinga Mzuzu 2, Malawi


Contrary to the nature of occurrence of floods in Malawi, for communities, floods have a social face and should be understood as a social disaster other than natural disasters. A study was carried out in Chikuse Traditional Authority area in Chikhwawa, Malawi, to understand why people are affected by floods despite the long history of their occurrence. Assessment of the vulnerabilities of people in the area was critically reviewed in relation to pressure and release model (PAR) and also the access model. Data was collected from the communities through interviews and focus group discussions and also the use of key informant's interviews. Cluster and circle approach was used to understand the interrelationships pressure conditions, access/release conditions, vulnerability and disaster situation. This approach help to find the relationship that exist between people normal life condition with inherent vulnerabilities and the way they react to, cope with and recover from hazardous situation and whether their condition will enable them avoid disasters or predispose them to disasters. An appraisal of the route to recovery or next disaster was made to explain the social causation of likelihood of recurrence of disasters in the study area. In this case an analysis common treats of the groups which ended into disaster situation were considered the causal factors of the disaster. The probability of the next disaster was considered as product of the social causation in presence of floods as pressure conditions. It was found out that the disaster in the study area varied between individual and families because of their vulnerability condition. Lack of access to land, wealth, natural and social resources and linkages was found to be the major cause of pressure condition. Those with low score of access to resources were more vulnerable and were likely to be driven into the disaster condition in presence of a flooding event. Ill health, poor nutrition, long duration of recovery was typical notable characteristics of the more vulnerable individuals than those with access to release condition. Families which had access to shelter, food, wealth natural resources and land recovered quickly from the hazard and some completely avoided the disaster unlike those who did have resources who ended up in waiting for relief from government and epistemic organizations. There was no or poor demarcation between normal life and disaster situation for the vulnerable groups and that was among the major obstacles to full recovery from a disaster situation. The research found a mismatch between what has been documented as the root causes of vulnerability in the study area and the actual situation. The research also founds out that apart from social, political and economic causes of vulnerability in flood areas, there were other factors that also make people vulnerable such as; attitude of people, cultural beliefs, poor social network, and not just the drainage density of the area. Uncoordinated and unplanned efforts in terms of mitigation strategies for reducing people's vulnerability compounded the disaster situation. The study concluded that during floods people will be pushed to a disaster situation because of their capacities the floods and their effects. The research suggested the need to build capacity for the people in this area which will help build resilience or ease relocation.

Theory, Practice, Vulnerability, Disaster, Flood

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] J. Mtembenuzeni , J. Kushe , "Theory and Practice of Vulnerability to Disasters in Flood Prone Areas in Chikwawa, Malawi," Environment and Ecology Research, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 137 - 146, 2018. DOI: 10.13189/eer.2018.060301.

(b). APA Format:
J. Mtembenuzeni , J. Kushe (2018). Theory and Practice of Vulnerability to Disasters in Flood Prone Areas in Chikwawa, Malawi. Environment and Ecology Research, 6(3), 137 - 146. DOI: 10.13189/eer.2018.060301.