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This study evaluated the effect of flood on farm families in Delta State. It specifically described the socioeconomic characteristics of smallholder crop farmers in the study area, identified the causes of floods in the study area, evaluated the economic effects of flood hazards on smallholder crop farmers, examined the vulnerability of smallholder crop farmers’ families to floods in the study area and identified adaptive strategies for mitigating the negative effects of floods on smallholder farm households. 180 smallholder famers were randomly drawn from 12 communities that covered six local government areas including; Oshimili South, Ndokwa East, Ughelli North, Udu, Isoko North and Patani local government areas. Data were collected from both primary and secondary sources and analysed through the use of both descriptive and inferential statistical tools. The result shows that over 51% of the respondents were females while majority (57,78%) of them were within the age bracket of 20 to 59 years and 70.56% were married.Over 87% of the respondents had one form of formal education or the other while themean household size was 8 persons with most of the farmers (76.66%) having farm sizes of 1.0 hectare and bellow. The identified causes of flooding in the area included long hours of rainfall, type of land use pattern, dumping of refuse into water channels, lack of and poor drainage networks, topography, nature of urban land surface and building types, and stream basin parameters. Lack of drainage network in the disposal of flood water is believed to be a major factor substantially worsening flooding in the study area. More than 27% of houses of sampled respondents collapsed during the 2012 flood in the study area while about (43%) suffered health problems. The results of the regression analysis of the effects of socioeconomic variables on vulnerability to flood hazards showed that savings, membership of ROSCAS, farm output and income had negative and statistically significant effect on vulnerability while Dependency Ratio is positively signed and statistically significant at the 5% level. Thus, vulnerability to flood event is highly reduced as savings, membership of ROSCAS, farm output and level of income of the smallholder farmers increase while the opposite is the case when the dependency ratio increases. Measures to reduce the risks of flooding in their area were identified as river re-channelisation, raising foundation of houses flood water level the use of sand bags as levees to keep away flood water. It is recommended that early warning of flooding based on climatic variability will help people in flood prone areas to prepare ahead of time. Also construction and improvement of drainage networks to effectively dispose flood water will go a long way in reducing the risks of flooding.



1.1     Background Information

Today, global climate change is one of humanity’s greatest challenges. According to the International Resource Group (2008) global warming will increase within the next fifty (50) years to the detriment of the world’s population. Weather extremities such as droughts, floods and cyclones will occur more frequently and forcefully, causing insecure living conditions, food shortage and forced migration. The current cycle of rising temperatures is unique. For the first time, the actions of human beings are responsible for decisively changing a cycle that is typically a natural phenomenon.

Apart from mitigation, adaption represents the second insurance strategy to first, protect vulnerable populations already experiencing adverse effects of climate change and secondly, protect all people in the future. Therefore, adaptation to existing climate change is essential for all countries. Political scientists and the policy-making community have begun to explore potential consequences of climate change, especially for developing countries, describing it as a stress factor with the potential to add to existing development, security and health problems (International Resource Group, 2008).

 Inequality in capacity to adapt to climate change is emerging as a potential force widening disparities in wealth, security and opportunities for human development. While developed countries with adequate resources are in the process of adapting to climate change, it is the countries in the developing world that are facing extreme and more immediate burdens and adverse impacts of changes in global climate. According to research, developing countries in tropical and subtropical regions will face some of the strongest negative consequences of climate change, thus primarily and adversely impacting the most vulnerable people globally (International Resource Group, 2008).

Flood is unusual accumulation of water. A disaster might be caused by a natural or man-made phenomenon resulting in a significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life or drastic change to the environment. It is a terrible occurrence that is capable of being harmful to life, property, economic and social welfare of people (Cherdpong and Thiengkamol, 2013). The coastal plains or flood belt are often more vulnerable to flood disaster in Delta State. With the advent of climate change phenomenon, the effect of floods has been devastating in the flood belt of Delta State, Nigeria. The 2012 flood disaster in some parts of Nigeria, including Delta State is a case worthy of reference.

The dimensions of the effect of flood can broadly be grouped into direct and indirect. Social effect of flood may manifest in the forms of loss of homes, loss of social status, education of children/wards and psychological trauma of the victims. Other direct effects are loss of farm income, social infrastructures (schools, markets, roads, and health facilities), loss of means of livelihood, loss of farm lands and crops/livestock’s. Indirect effects of flood may reflect in the form of burden on safe communities in the hinterland and food shortages, increase in prices of food stuff. Other dimensions of effects of flood disaster include: food insecurity, poverty, psychological trauma, loss of human capital, political unrest and a drain on government budget (Cherdpong and Thiengkamol, 2013).

The overall effect of flood disaster is that it retards and reverses development. It may hinder productive investment. A key issue for developing countries including Nigeria is the lack of capacity of farming households to mitigate flood disaster (Abaje and Giwa, 2007).

The smallholder farmers that dominate the population of Delta State, produce small output, with scanty resources, earn low income and low purchasing power.  About 70% of the whole population depends on their aggregate output. According to Cruz (2010) majority (more than 80%) of the small holder farmers in the world depend on farming as their primary source of livelihoods. Three out of every four poor people leave in rural areas and depend on agriculture, either directly or indirectly for their livelihood (World Bank, 2008). Consequently, flood hazards on farming households will have spillover effect on those that depend on them.

In most parts of the world, and particularly in the developing countries such as Nigeria, food security and its related issues are vital welfare issues that occupy central focus in global economic debates. Attainment of food security is core problem confronting rural farming households due to low productivity. The changing climate pattern and its effect on agriculture pose a serious food security and livelihood challenges to the rural farm families in Delta State, Nigeria. The United Nations estimate has projected that over the next 20 years the demand for food will increase astronomically. Ash, et al. (2007) reported that yields from Africa’s rain-fed farm production may decrease by 50% due to climate change hazards such as flood, by 2020.

Previous studies demonstrating correlations between flood hazards and poverty status among vulnerable rural farm families have generated considerable interest (Meza et al, 2008). The body of literature has accordingly pursued three main directions with respect to climate hazards and livelihood status of vulnerable rural farm families:

*          close link between flood and farm output (Meinke and Stone, 2005)

*          vulnerability of rural communities, which lack economic resources and capacity to mitigate flood hazards, and

*          the need for agronomic

 and economic models that can capture relevant variables for adaptation policies and practices (Maza, et al, 2008).

Agronomic and economic models of flood hazards indicate that, over time, adaptive use of seasonal climate forecast could provide some benefits (Ash, et al. 2007), especially with respect to vulnerable  farmers (Letson et al, 2005). Hansen et al. (2009) demonstrated that high value could be attained from accurate predictability of flood hazards.

The main purpose of estimating flood response model is to integrate the relevant variables in flood hazards management decision making. It is important to investigate how vulnerable rural farm families and others in the flood belt make use of flood hazards forecast information in their livelihood decision making (Roncoli, 2006).

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