Comparative report on flood displacement mitigation policies

Oct. 4, 2023

In the IGAD region, floods have become increasingly frequent and intense due to climate variability and change, resulting in 10.7 million new displacements between 2008 and 2022, related to 291 flood disasters reported (IDMC Database, data retrieved on 15/06/2023). The associated impact of those events highly depends on the contextual socioeconomic, political, and individual or household characteristics. In fact, the same hazardous event may affect people in different ways in the same area. This would depend, for example, on the housing material and their income level, which is crucial for repairing damages, coping with disaster displacement, and being better prepared in the event of a flood. It also depends on the presence of people with specific needs, such as people with chronic illnesses or disabilities, or others who may have more difficulties moving, as well as on the presence of political or humanitarian support mechanisms or ranging from transport and shelter to social protection measures.

In other words, disaster displacement risk depends on three different elements: hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. In the first place, the probability of being displaced due to a disaster is related to the nature of the hazard, in this case to flood events, their intensity and frequency. Exposure is related to the number and distribution of people, infrastructure, assets, and buildings in flood-prone areas, and so is subjected to the potential impacts of hazardous events. Vulnerability refers to the “conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors and processes which increase the susceptibility of an individual, a community, assets or systems to the impact of hazards” (UNGA, 2016). This element includes socioeconomic status, housing materials, access to resources and services, health conditions, and education opportunities. Assessing and understanding the three components of risk is crucial for policymakers and humanitarian organizations to design and implement strategies for reducing the risk of being displaced due to disasters.