Ethiopia: Coping with floods erodes social capital

Case Study

Ethiopia: Coping with floods erodes social capital

Case Study Pic: Ethiopia

Increased frequency and severity of flooding in Ethiopia is affecting the livelihoods of small-scale agropastoralists who rely on the land for subsistence. The study conducted in the Itang District of Gambela region, found that households apply a variety of preventive measures against flooding, including digging ditches, erecting boundary walls and moving property and livestock to unaffected areas. These measures were quite effective during normal flood years; however, during the severe flood in 2007 (the study focus) households experienced severe negative impacts despite preventive measures. [see figure]. In addition to losing crops and livestock, which are relied upon for sale and consumption, large scale destruction of crops also leads to increased food prices, forcing desperate households to reduce their food consumption. Following a flood, households often rely on social networks for assistance; however, repeated floods erode this social capital as less-affected households do not have endless resources to support flood victims. By overburdening their networks, affected households find themselves in a more vulnerable position with each subsequent flood.