Household vulnerability to flood hazards and associated factors in Kasese Municipality
Flood disasters and its consequent damages are on the rise globally. In Kasese Municipality, at least four flood disasters in the last decade have left a trail of destruction of properties and loss of human lives. While flood hazards might pose significant threats to communities, it is however, the vulnerability of households that determines whether such an extreme event can cause extreme impacts such as loss of life and economic loss. Previous studies have been conducted elsewhere on vulnerability of rural farmers to climate change, reconstruction of flash floods, analysis of exposure impacts to floods, weather shocks and urban livelihood strategies, no study had specifically assessed the level of household’s vulnerability to floods in this area. With the projected increase in extreme flooding due to climate change, the research study assessed the factors contributing vulnerability to floods, assessed the household exposure, sensitivity, capacity to cope with and the overall level of communities’ vulnerability to flood hazards. The study used an indicator-based methodology. A cross-sectional research design was used, and a semi-structured questionnaire to collect data on the selected indicators. A primary survey was conducted and 210 respondents were randomly sampled for interview. Individual weights for each indicator were allocated using Principal Component Analysis. Vulnerability indices were constructed at household level then aggregated at division level. A Chi Square test at significance level of 5% was used to test for the hypotheses. To assess the factors contributing vulnerability to floods, key informants and focus group discussion were used. The major factors contributing vulnerability to flood hazards in Kasese Municipality were levels of poverty, access to land for settlement and farming, level of knowledge on disaster risk management, and presence of early warning system. In addition, the results revealed that, Nyamwamba division was most exposed while Central least exposed to floods and this was attributed majorly to the larger household size. Nyamwamba had a higher average household size of about 5.8 persons which significantly increased their exposure to floods compared to Central and Bulembia which had an average of 4.8 and 4.5 persons respectively. Central division was also found most sensitive while Bulembia was least sensitive to floods and this was linked majorly to the length of time households had lived in the community, and the distance from the medical facility. Majority (72.9%) of the households in Central had lived in the community for less than five years, and about 98.6% of the households in Central were living 1-5 kilometres from the nearest health facility which significantly affected their sensitivity to floods. However, Central division had better capacity to cope with floods while Bulembia had the least capacity. Further, results revealed a significant difference in the level of households’ vulnerability across the divisions. Overall, Nyamwamba was found most vulnerable and Central least vulnerable to floods. About 43.8% of the households in Kasese municipality were found highly vulnerable to floods. Urgent attention had to be given to Nyamwamba to address the high levels of vulnerability. To reduce the high levels of vulnerabilities, the government and other stakeholders should install early warning system, ensure active participation of the local communities, arrange awareness raising programmes on flood disaster risk management, provide employment and livelihood diversification opportunities to improve the household income and savings.