When nature frowns: a comprehensive impact assessment of the 2012 Babessi floods on people’s livelihoods in rural Cameroon
Balgah, Roland A
Mbue, Innocent N
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Floods are the most common natural disasters worldwide. Much of the growing literature on the impact of floods, especially in developed countries, and to a lesser extent in rural areas of developing countries, concentrates on economic rather than a comprehensive assessment of combined effects on people’s livelihoods. Holistic floods impact assessments are often done long after the shock, raising problems of data reliability following long recall periods, although post-disaster needs assessments when carried out earlier can facilitate appropriate disaster recovery, relief and reconstruction activities. We applied the sustainable livelihoods framework as a comprehensive approach to assess the impacts of the Babessi floods in 2012 on livelihoods in rural (north western region) of Cameroon 6 weeks after the floods. Using a structured questionnaire, data was collected from victims before and after the floods, using recall methods. A matched sample of nonvictims randomly selected from the same village as the victims was used to assess vulnerability to the floods by household type. Floods were found to have serious economic, social, human and food security impacts on victims. Both government and nongovernmental support were jointly crucial for household recovery. Comparatively observed high levels of recovery were attributed to the low loss of human lives. The article concludes with the need for comprehensive approaches to floods impact assessments. The need for combining formal and informal instruments in post-disaster management in rural areas is also emphasised.