Flood survivors’ perspectives on vulnerability reduction to floods in Mbire district, Zimbabwe
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Disasters result from the interactions of hazards and vulnerability conditions. Considering the perspectives of survivors of a disaster event is critical for reducing the progression of vulnerability conditions. The Mbire community in Zimbabwe is facing increasing threats from recurring high- and low-magnitude floods that manifest themselves in the disruption of livelihoods and destruction of crops and infrastructure. This study, therefore, explored the perspectives of flood survivors on vulnerability to floods and examined their vulnerability-reduction measures. Using an interpretivist approach to knowledge generation, a sample of 51 research participants provided data through interviews, a focus group discussion and field observations. Results showed that shortage of land, flood-based farming practices, poverty and climate change, amongst others, are the key drivers of the smallholder farmers’ vulnerability to floods. The most affected groups of people include women, children and the elderly. To reduce their vulnerability, the smallholder farmers mainly rely on traditional flood-proofed structures built on stilts, dual home system and indigenous flood forecasting. The study proposes six policy implications to reduce vulnerability to floods. These include diversifying rural livelihoods beyond the farming sector, investment in irrigation infrastructure, increasing access to financial resources, constructing human settlements away from floodplains, enforcing environmental laws regarding flood-based farming and community education on the long-term negative impacts of recession farming. The implementation of these policy recommendations can contribute to community resilience to flood disasters.