Towards developing a prediction model for managing river flood disasters in the SADC-region
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In the Southern African Development Community (SADC)-region, and elsewhere internationally, statistically floods are considered to affect more people, animals, the environment and cause more economic losses than any other hazard. According to the core values as expressed in Disaster Risk Management actions and studies there is need to be guided by beliefs that all possible steps should be taken to alleviate human suffering arising out of calamity and that those affected have a right to life with dignity and assistance. Within this context floods have to be mitigated through the use of both structural and non-structural measures. As such, this thesis is aimed towards developing a prediction model for managing flood disasters in the SADC-region specifically the Southern sub-region. The main research objective was to identify which aspects or dimensions could be included in a flood prediction model to improve the functionality and efficiency of reducing river flood risks in the SADC-region. To achieve the objective, both theoretical and empirical scopes of research applied in the study. As far as the theoretical dimensions are concerned a conceptual, historical and contextual survey on the current and past management of river flood disasters in the SADC-region were conducted. Literature regarding flood prediction research, the use of flood prediction models worldwide and how some of the prediction methods and research may serve as possible instruments to deal with the management of river floods in the SADC-region were also scrutinized for focus and guidance. Some models as identified include scientific and indigenous ways of predicting river floods that are discussed and exposed in the study. To utilise, assess and in many ways complement the theoretical dimension of the study, a process of empirical research followed, though mostly through a qualitative method approach that involved data collecting from disaster experts and community leaders through recorded interviews. These were afterwards transcribed into written text. Community members were also identified from four SADC-countries and questionnaires used to gain information on their experiences of flood disasters, their expectations, how well they have managed and their opinions on how flood disasters should be managed. The rationale for the selection of these particular countries was mainly due to that they constitute much flooding in the region as indicated by statistics in some sections in chapters that follow. Findings in the study, amongst others, revealed that flood disasters are continuing unabated in the SADC-region. The need therefore is to devise other flood prediction methods or improve on the current flood mitigation methods. As observed, the SADC-region is also making frantic efforts to mitigate flood effects but the methods currently used require improvement to be more effective. Also past scientific methods regards flood mitigation seems to be failing to efficiently and practically control flood disasters. Effectively combining scientific and indigenous knowledge methods of river flood predictions appears to be a better way to progress towards predicting floods, especially at local levels. Therefore literature on specifically indigenous knowledge application with regards to flood prediction in the SADC-region that were analysed, were utilised in consideration of existing scientific methods to develop a “Regional river flood prediction model”. Further to that, there must be coordinated flood prediction institutions from a village or ward level up to national level. It was found that the model will not work successfully in isolation but will also have to be supported by other factors like flood legislation, political will, efficient governance, a support of knowledgeable institutions, sufficient infrastructure settings and community participation.