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AN ASSESSMENT OF PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF FLOOD RISK IN MOMBASA, KENYA

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AN ASSESSMENT OF PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF FLOOD RISK IN MOMBASA, KENYA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

The increasing frequency of flooding worldwide is attributed to climate change and various human-induced activities, making it one of the most prominent global disasters, with expectations of further escalation in the years to come. Recently, many countries in the world suffer some kind of flooding, and Kenya is no exception. Kenya has seen some of the most severe and deadly flooding since the first recorded floods in 1961–1962, with the most extensive and El Niño-induced floods occurring in 1997–1998 (Owuor, 2015). However, the financial losses associated with the El Niño floods were estimated at US$800m (Karanja et al., 2018). The problem of flooding has become perennial, every time taking back years of development and costing millions of dollars in reconstruction and recovery. In addition hundreds of lives are lost.

Beyond that, according to the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP), (2019), flood-related fatalities constitute a whopping 60 per cent of disaster victims in Kenya. Also, numerous factors, such as river overflow, flash floods, coastal flooding, floods caused by unusually high or low rainfall, inadequate or nonexistent drainage systems, and occasionally human interference with drainage basins, floodplains, and watersheds, all have an impact on Kenya's flooding events. Additionally, flooding affects both rural and urban Kenya, but in the recent past, it has become more frequent and severe in the urban areas. Many towns in Kenya are now faced with the problem of recurrent flooding as a result of factors such as climate change, high concentrations of buildings and people, but mainly due to poor planning and poor disposal of waste that clog the drainage system. Some towns are at a greater risk of flooding due to a combination of factors, most of all due to their location.

Further more, Mombasa City is among the urban areas that have endured the greatest impact of flooding in recent years. With the projected sea level increase attributed to climate change, this coastal city, situated at lower elevations, faces an even more substantial risk of encountering more frequent and severe flooding incidents. However, according to Awuor et al. (2018), Mombasa has a history of floods that have caused damage nearly every year. The effect of flooding in the city is, however, un-proportionately felt with the most-affected areas being the informal settlements. Also, Moser et al. (2019), assert that poor households exist in spatially and physically vulnerable conditions in Mombasa. Their homes are situated on marginal ground, have substandard housing built on it, and have little to no access to electricity, clean water, roads, drainage, or waste collection services.

Similarly, some of the informal settlements located at the edge of the sea get regularly flooded due to high tides. The situation will be further exacerbated by the rise in the sea level due to the impact of climate change. Moreover, in recent years, public perception of flood risk has become an important topic to policy makers concerned with risk management and safety issues (Kellens et al., 2020). This is because it is envisaged that it will contribute to informed scientific and policy discussions that will be useful in effective tackling of the perennial problem of flooding in different parts of the globe (Bord et al.,2018).

At the same time, according to Babitski (2019) the role of the human perception is one of the most important questions. If we understood how a human perceives information and operates it we would more precisely make future forecasts and increase our efficiency (Babistki, 2019) However, Elrick-Barr et al. (2015) point out that there is limited knowledge of risk perception among communities at risk of flooding, like coastal communities, despite their vulnerability to flooding due to the sea level rise. Additionally, there have been some studies on the risk that the coastal city faces and the impact of hazards like flooding in Mombasa City (Awuor et al.,2020). Therefore, a survey will be conducted in order to assess public perception of flood risk in Mombasa, Kenya.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The perception of flood risk among the people is still largely unstudied. Generally speaking, Kenyan flood risk management literature has mostly ignored how people who are at risk, especially households, assess the risk in favor of concentrating on the physical features of floods' nature and occurrence (Nyankudi et al., 2020). However, this is essential for developing successful local mitigation programs and for enhancing flood risk communication.

Additionally, the public's perception plays a crucial role in influencing their vulnerability to disaster risks and their subsequent choice of actions. Elrick-Barr et al. (2015) emphasize that gaining insight into the public's perceptions and the health consequences they face as a result of flooding exposure is essential for crafting efficient policy responses to flooding and other hazards.

Further more, Kates (2020) found out that people who had experience with floods were more likely to expect that they would reappear, and consequently they act protectively. The

majority of inhabitants living in areas where floods or other disasters are frequent are prone toward an underestimation of danger (Gardner and Stern, 2016). Hence, it is in the light of these that the study seeks to assess public perception of flood risk in Mombasa, Kenya.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to assess public perception of flood risk in Mombasa, Kenya. Specifically, the study will;

  1. Assess public perception on the prevalence of flood in Mombasa, Kenya

  2. Assess public perception on the factors associated with the occurrence of flood in Mombasa, Kenya

  3. Assess public perception on the risk implications of flood in Mombasa, Kenya.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study:

  1. What is the public perception of the prevalence of flood in Mombasa, Kenya?

  2. What do people in Mombasa, Kenya perceive as the factors associated with the occurrence of floods?

  3. How does the public perceive the risk implications of floods in Mombasa, Kenya?

1.5 Significant of the Study

This study will help policy makers develop communication strategies to engage the communities most effectively to deal with the recurrent flooding and to develop an action plan for mitigation strategies based on these perceptions.

Furthermore, this research will be useful to media house to disseminate information on weather, the need for river and drainage monitoring, and keeping people informed of flood risks and its preventive measures.

Additionally, subsequent researchers will use it as a literature review. This means that other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regard to an assessment of public perception of flood risk in Mombasa, Kenya.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is boarded on an assessment of public perception of flood risk in Mombasa, Kenya. Theoretically, this study will assess public perception on the prevalence of flood in Mombasa, Kenya, public perception on the factors associated with the occurrence of flood in Mombasa, Kenya and assess public perception on the risk implications of flood in Mombasa, Kenya.

Geographically, the study will be delimited to households in Mombasa, Kenya

1.7 Limitation of the study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents.

In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed.

More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other schools, local governments, states, and other countries in the world.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Flood: is caused by a combination of heavy rainfall causing river / oceans to over flow their banks, and can happen at any time of the year.

Public perception: a belief or opinion, often held by many people and based on how things seem. Public perception is the data acquired from a public opinion survey ( Anderson 2022)

Risk: a situation involving exposure to dangers or implications of flood.

REFERENCES

Adelekan, I.O. (2009), “Vulnerability of poor urban coastal communities to climate change in Lagos,Nigeria”, Fifth Urban Research Symposium, Ibadan.

Adelekan, I.O. (2011), “Vulnerability of an urban flood in Nigeria; Abeokuta flood 2007”, Natural Hazards, Vol. 56 No. 1, pp. 215-231.

Awuor, C.B., Orindi, V.A. and Adwera, A.O. (2008), “Climate change and coastal cities: the case of Mombasa, Kenya”, Environment and Urbanisation, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 231-242.

Babistki, I.V. (2011), “What is perception? Leisure and tourism studies”, available at: tourim.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/what-is-perception/on (accessed 19 August 2018).

Bich, T.H., Quang, L., Ha, L.T., Hanh, T.T. and Guha-Sapir, D. (2011), “Impacts of flood on health:epidemiologic evidence from Hanoi, Vietnam”, Global Health Action, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 6356.

Bord, R.J., Fisher, A. and O’Connor, R. (1998), “Public perceptions of global warming: United States and international perspectives”, Climate Research, Vol. 11, pp. 75-84.

Botzen, W.J., Aerts, J.C. and van den Bergh, J.C. (2009), “Dependence of flood risk perception on socio-economic and objective risk factors”, Water Resources Research, Vol. 45 No. 10.

Brown, L. and Murray, V. (2013), “Examining the relationship between infectious diseases and flooding in Europe: a systematic literature review and summary of possible public health interventions”,Disaster Health, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 1-11.IJCCSM11,4


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