40 Urban Flooding and Changing Landscapes: Incorporating Urban Communities’ Experiences, Perceptions, and Knowledge in Environmental Management [full paper]
Adaku Jane Echendu
Flood risk is rising globally due to climate change. It is a disaster that has the capacity of reversing years of development. In developing African countries like Nigeria that suffer perennial flooding, the impacts of flooding are felt even more as the frequency has increased over the years. My research investigates the flooding phenomenon in urban areas that are beginning to experience flooding in recent times. A mixed methodology will be adopted. Residents of these urban areas will be engaged in this research. The goal is to work together to seek sustainable solutions to the flooding problem that will be deployed to effectively manage flood risk. There is the potential for findings to also be deployed in other rapidly urbanizing parts of the globe.
Introduction and Background
Flood risk is set to rise globally due to climate change. It is a disaster with cascading effects and in Africa, flooding constitutes a major environmental issue (Grasham, Korzenevica, & Charles, 2019). The frequency of flooding events has steadily increased over the years especially in the urban areas with attendant disastrous effects (Adelekan, 2016). Nigeria is one country that is consistently ravaged by perennial flooding. The frequency of flooding events in Nigeria has steadily increased over the years especially in the urban areas with attendant disastrous effects (Adelekan, 2016). My work studies the increasing incidence in recent times of pluvial flooding in urban areas which did not experience flooding in the past. I will be engaging with the residents of these urban areas to understand their perceptions on the link between urbanization and climate change to the flooding events and seek ways of mitigating or controlling the problem. It is important to engage with residents who have experience and knowledge about what works in their localities, and what approaches are suited to local terrains to effectively find workable solutions. Local residents will have the opportunity to present flooding issues in ways that are meaningful, directly relevant, and personal and which align with their lived reality in a bid to seek flood control and management strategies.
Flooding, Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Flooding impacts sustainable development (Aderogba, 2012). The Bruntland report proffers the most popular definition of sustainable development which is the development that meets the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland, 1987). However, the core concept of sustainability could be said to be as old as humanity and has only appeared on the international political agenda because of human ecological pressure on earth (Echendu, 2020b; Leal Filho et al., 2018). The rising flooding events in Nigerian urban centers have lasting impacts beyond the immediate into long-term sustainability. The pervasive poverty in the country further exacerbates the disastrous effects of flooding (Hallegatte, Vogt-Schilb, Rozenberg, Bangalore, & Beaudet, 2020). Flooding poses a threat to Nigeria achieving the SDGs which are a set of goals mapped out by the United Nations for all nations to work on towards achieving sustainable development. Of the 17 SDGs, 9 are directly impacted: No poverty; 2: Zero hunger; 3: Good Health and Wellbeing; 4: Quality education; 6: Clean water and Sanitation; 8: Decent work and economic growth; 11: Sustainable cities and communities; 14: Life on water and 15: Life on land (Echendu, 2020a). Just as the SDGs are all interconnected, connections on the impact of flooding can be found in all the goals.
Living with Floods
In the flooding literature, ‘living with floods’ is a concept gaining widespread traction whereby flooding is viewed as a natural phenomenon that cannot be prevented and efforts should, therefore, move towards adaptation (Forrest, Trell, & Woltjer, 2017). For many researchers, urban flood resilience should be improved by seeking adaptation measures to prevent damage due to flooding while economic and social systems should be strengthened to improve the capability for mobility instead of seeking flood control measures (Hellman, 2015; La Loggia, Puleo, & Freni, 2020; Liao, 2019). This approach has gained support in many parts of the globe including Nigeria. For example, Adekola and Lamond (2018) in their work on media framing analysis of urban flooding found that multilateral organizations champion adaptation strategies and believe that efforts should be channeled at ‘living with water’, damage reduction, emergency response, and the aftermath even though the narratives of government, local government and businesses align with the premise that flooding can be and should be prevented. The view of these multilaterals could have been shaped by flood response strategies in their funding countries which tilt towards ‘living with floods’. I argue that while adaptation strategies may be relevant in some countries, this is not an approach that should be considered in Nigeria due to the abundance of evidence on the main drivers of flooding which can and should be controlled in the majority of the urban areas experiencing flooding. There has been a significant body of work on the causes of flooding in Nigeria and this is categorized in this work as follows: urbanization and poor urban planning, climate change/high rainfalls, inadequate infrastructure, and poor waste management.
Urbanization and Poor Urban Planning
Urbanization has been linked to increasing flooding incidences. It changes the geology of the catchments and subsurface through changes in basin slopes, sediment transport, and soil permeability (O’Donnell & Thorne, 2020). This view is supported by Israel (2017) whose work finds that flooding is induced or exacerbated by man’s interference in nature’s way of draining its catchments or basins, thereby upsetting the balance. The transformation due to urbanization of rural and undeveloped regions such as forests, green lands, and agricultural lands into urban areas, changes flood patterns. Flooding in urban centers is particularly devastating because of the concentration of human activities. Nigeria is rapidly urbanizing and its urbanization is characterized by an increasing number of suburbs that did not flood in the past beginning to experience annual flooding. G. T. Cirella, Iyalomhe, and Adekola (2019) has also attributed increased flooding in Nigeria to changes to the urban landscape, without equal precautionary measures for flooding, and predicts a worsening situation. Even though urbanization has been attributed to the floods being experienced in Nigeria, it is important to note that many fully urbanized countries of the world do not experience flooding of this nature linked to a rise in informal settlements due to urbanization. This suggests there are ways to better manage urbanisation to prevent issues like flooding.
Climate Change/High Rainfalls
Climate change is a global phenomenon but developing countries of the world are disproportionately suffering the impact (Akeh & Mshelia, 2016; Azadi, Yazdanpanah, & Mahmoudi, 2019). Climate change will steadily and continuously increase flood risk in the coming years by inducing changes in sea levels, an increase in river flows, and heavier, prolonged rainfall durations (Akeh & Mshelia, 2016). Flooding incidents in Nigeria have particularly been caused by increased rainfall events, a climate change effect (Hassan, Kalin, Aladejana, & White, 2020). The most serious flooding events reported in recent times have occurred after bouts of more than normal heavy rainfall. In as much as climate change has changed rainfall patterns, numerous research finds that flooding is caused more by human activities in Nigeria than climate events (Echendu, 2021; M. Magami, Yahaya, & Mohammed, 2014). The issue of rainfall-induced flooding is considered serious because Nigeria lacks the needed infrastructure to conduit and channel rainwater and surface run-off water which exacerbates flooding risk.
Inadequate Infrastructure and Poor Waste Management
The dearth of adequate stormwater management infrastructure and drainage is one of the leading causes of flooding in Nigeria (Salami, von Meding, & Giggins, 2017). Good planning practices incorporate sustainable drainage management to cater to the needs of the population (Adedeji, Odufuwa, & Adebayo, 2012). Poorly constructed and managed drains are hallmarks of Nigerian urban centers (Adeloye & Rustum, 2011; Ndoma et al., 2020). The majority of the storm drains are open and small. Their small size makes them unable to support large volumes of water during heavy rainfall. The absence of covers makes them easy dumping sites by undisciplined citizens. Solid waste contributes significantly to flooding in Nigerian urban centers (Wahab, 2017). It is not uncommon to see drains flood parts of the cities due to poor connectivity and sub-optimization where drainage in one location causes flooding in other parts of the city. The construction of infrastructure lags behind urban development making the existing drainage inadequate to discharge run-off increasing the risk of flooding (G. Cirella & Iyalomhe, 2018). Waste management is a core part of urban governance but this is a problem for developing countries and contributes enormously to flood risk (Lamond, Bhattacharya, & Bloch, 2012).
Research Gap, Aim, and Questions
While research has connected mainly anthropogenic factors like urban planning, poor infrastructural base, and rapid/unplanned urbanization to the flooding (G. Cirella & Iyalomhe, 2018; Oriaifo, Friday, Faith, Adama, & Augustine, 2020), gaps still abound in the understanding and research on flooding in Nigeria (Nkwunonwo, Whitworth, & Baily, 2020). There has been little research on community experiences and understandings of flooding which can inform solutions in Nigeria. It is critical to investigate the perceptions and experiences of the impacted communities’ residents and their opinions on the best way to tackle the problem. This research aims to understand the residents’ perceptions of the cause of flooding and their experience of government urban planning and urbanization. A key gap exists in research on the toll that flooding takes on the people and specific local environments. Research on the lived experiences of the flood victims and knowledge of what they perceive to be the cause of the floods and possible solutions is also missing. This is a significant oversight as such research has the potential to hear the voices of the people affected, and to influence public policy around urban expansion and flood control. This research will therefore investigate the link between the flooding and urban processes from the point of view of residents, an area previously unexplored in research. This work will also investigate changes in land use patterns to assess urbanization impacts. My research will seek answers to these questions:
- What are the perceptions of residents on urbanization, high rainfalls/climate change, and flooding events?
- How has the flooding impacted ways of living and how best can it be controlled?
Why this Research is Applied Research
The goal of this work is to investigate the link between increasing flooding events and urban processes from the perspectives of community members. Adopting a bottom-up approach will yield insights that could be incorporated in flood control and management plans and policies. This research also seeks empowerment and environmental justice by giving a voice to local residents whose knowledge are usually ignored in environmental management strategies (Mashi, Inkani, Obaro, & Asanarimam, 2020). This has the potential to yield useful knowledge and data that could be deployed in flood control and environmental management processes, as was achieved in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta where collaboration with locals enabled a shared understanding of flooding and led to policy change (Tran, Pittock, & Tuan, 2019; Tran & Rodela, 2019). Local stakeholders have also been involved in flood management research in Europe with positive results (Begg, 2018). Participation by the people affected by the flooding in policy development and its implementation may just drive the needed action, results, and long-term sustainability. Generally, the physical impacts of floods and risk levels have been studied to a greater extent than the socio-economic and environmental aspects. As such, environmental and socio-economic consequences of flooding are not usually included in flood impact estimation models and management policies. This research will provide much-needed knowledge to improve our understanding of the environmental, social, and economic effects of floods and incorporate local knowledge in mitigation strategies. The overall goal of this research is for the findings to be deployed in real-life flood mitigation strategies.
To conduct my research. I will be using three conceptual frameworks. The first is sustainability and sustainable development. Environmental justice (EJ) and Flood Risk Management (FRM) are the other relevant frameworks that are embedded within the broader concept of sustainability in my work. The subsequent parts of this work discuss these frameworks in a more in-depth manner.
Sustainability and Sustainable Development
Sustainability has emerged as an important discourse in the face of the many problems facing humanity. Even though it became a buzzing topic in the 70s (Hong, Kweon, Lee, & Kim, 2019), it is not a new concept. The core values of sustainability are recognized and have been practiced in indigenous cultures (Anoliefo, Isikhuemhen, & Ochije, 2003; Magni, 2017). In Western cultures as well, there is evidence of strong advocacy for the co-existence of nature and humans since the mid-nineteenth century (Li, 2017) which is one of the core tenets of sustainability. Working towards sustainability has become prominent on the international political agenda because of human ecological pressure on earth (Echendu, 2020b; Leal Filho et al., 2018). As a response to these ecological problems and also the need for development, new concepts emerged among which sustainable development was one of them seen as a way of overcoming these problems.
The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development Conference (WCED) in I987 was instrumental in shaping a more global view of the concept of sustainable development. The comprehensive Brundtland report, a product of this global conference and partnership provided a turning point in the sustainable development discourse. However, Mebratu (1998) posits that just as the WCED conference was not the starting point of the emergence of the concept of sustainable development, it will also not be the end of the finetuning and reframing of the concept. Mebratu (1998) asserts that other significant theoretical precursors shaped WCED’s conceptualization of sustainable development and these were in turn shaped by other conceptualization efforts because knowledge is built and grows from prior knowledge. The popularity and wide acceptance of the concept of sustainable development led many skeptics to believe that it is a buzzword that would wane over time but this has not been the case as we have seen its influence grow significantly in policy development at all levels of government, international organizations, and business corporations (Mebratu, 1998). Definitions and understandings vary across disciplines each with different emphasis on social, political, environmental, technological, issues, etc (Gibson, 2006). Meanings accorded to the concept also depend on the context and as such, there is no one specific theory or method, or ways of studying and researching this concept. The lack of uniform understanding and clarity coupled with the growing recognition of the concept and its centrality in national and international agendas had led to a battle of which definition or understanding is most encompassing (Connelly, 2007). There is also a shifting trend whereby human development, social capital, and the dynamics within the natural ecosystem to adapt to and solve problems are considered more and more. We also observe the fluidity of the concept and a move from just environmental preservation or maintenance to social advancement with a cultural context.
The concept of sustainable development is viewed as complex and has been debated extensively by scholars (Gibson, 2006; Mebratu, 1998; Sinakou, Boeve-de Pauw, & Van Petegem, 2019). It has also been critiqued as vague but has achieved broad attention on various levels that other development concepts have failed to garner (Mensah, 2019). Sustainable development aims to foster and protect the socio-ecological system from the smallest family unit to worldwide levels in a durable, dynamic, adaptable, and resilient manner but defining sustainability within the different categories or aspects of politics, society, ecology, culture, and economics leads to fragmentation (Gibson, 2006). Seeking ways to integrate the various understandings and identify interconnections would foster positive holistic actions. It is important to acknowledge and integrate the different viewpoints into development policies and programs to ensure the success and a broader acceptance of the visions and goals of sustainable development because of the complexity of human- environmental interactions and relationships. The social construction of sustainable development and innovative ways of engaging communities is called for (Robinson, 2004). Particularly, a single framework for investigating the human-environmental interface is not feasible and needs to situate and analyze the issue within its context, taking into account the interactions at different levels of decision-making and analysis (Lehtonen, 2004).
While there are many definitions of sustainability (Keivani, 2010), a common understanding is the need for the current generation to factor in the needs of the future generation in the consumption of resources for development and to protect and preserve the environment. There is also a consensus on the existence of an environmental crisis. Sustainability is seen as a development goal with integrated social, economic, and environmental dimensions, which needs to be taken into account while meeting our current needs to ensure the ability of future generations to meet theirs are not compromised (Brundtland, 1987). Humans face the growing challenge of managing the pressure on the environment on which they depend. Such pressures manifest in the form of pollution, resource depletion, mitigation, and adaptation to climate change, etc (Policy, 2018). Despite the emergence of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, there is still no consensus over the societal goals that would count as sustainable development. The three bottom-line concepts of sustainability as it relates to social, environmental, and economic development form a context for this work because of the impact of flooding on all three aspects. Framing my research within this context serves the purpose of understanding the problem within a much wider context, and also understanding on the smaller scale the dynamics of flooding as it impacts local communities. The shortcomings of sustainable development to adequately dissect the social bottom line as related to flooding within the context of my study necessitates the incorporation of environmental justice to serve as a complementary framework given its relevance within the sustainability discourse and its ability to focus on the often-overlooked political component of decisions as regards environmental issues.
One definition of environmental justice (EJ) is the meaningful involvement and fair treatment of all people regardless of status in the development and execution of environmental policies, regulations, and laws whereby fair treatment ensures that no population disproportionately bears the consequences of negative environmental outcomes due to operations resulting from the executions of government regulations and at any level (Ramirez-Andreotta, 2019). Meaningful involvement entails the engagement, access, and collaboration with decision- makers and the capacity for communities to make well-informed decisions and take action towards achieving environmental justice. Environmental justice means the right to freedom from ecological devastation, having rural and urban environmental policies in place to restore and rebuild our communities in harmony with nature while maintaining the core fabric of our communities (Ramirez-Andreotta, 2019). It is an enveloping concept that brings social-justice considerations into the fore of environmental issues and decision-making and maintains that environmental issues cannot be compartmentalized in silos separate from the political and social (Ali, 2006). It is an interdisciplinary field whose grassroots movement was born in the United States as a lead-up movement after the illegal dumping of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) in California in 1978 (Banzhaf, Ma, & Timmins, 2019).
Early work on EJ, therefore, focused on the disproportionate spatial distribution and disposal of environmental waste in predominantly poor and racial minority communities with little political power. The concept has since evolved and been adopted in studies focusing on various socio-environmental issues due to its broadness and the possibility of integrating new theoretical concepts (Svarstad & Benjaminsen, 2020). The concept encapsulated the conditions, injustice, and lived realities experienced by communities which led to its broad acceptance (Schlosberg, 2013). The growing number of people impacted by environmental injustice is also another reason for its growing relevance coupled with the possibility of applying social justice principles to the analysis of environmental concerns within the construct of EJ (Martin & Boersema, 2011). Social justice and environmental issues are politically and conceptually inseparable(Grass, 1995). The increasing occurrences of similar problems in different multiple locations around the globe have reinforced the EJ movement.
EJ entails justice on a precautionary, procedural, distributive, and generational level. Precautionary EJ hinges on the premise that the unknowns in terms of short or long-term environmental impact due to the environmental deterioration in human communities necessitate decisions to prevent harm to humans. Procedural justice is the degree to which the public is empowered and involved in decision-making in environmental processes. Distributive justice entails equitable allocation of both the environmental risks and benefits across geographies and demographics. Generational justice relates to sustainability and refers to the obligation and responsibility of the current generation to maintain and assure a safe and healthy environment for the future generation. Generational environmental justice has become more pertinent in the face of unprecedented urbanization, globalization, climate change, etc. in contemporary times (Bolte, Pauli, & Hornberg, 2011). Despite these separate classifications of EJ, (Martin & Boersema, 2011) argue that distributive justice cannot be separated from procedural justice because the latter is a requirement of the former, although not a guarantee.
In this work, procedural justice which emphasizes democratic involvement, contribution, and fair access in environmental policy-making, and generational justice which relates to fostering sustainability and limiting environmental degradation is most relevant. The absence of procedural justice has been deemed one reason for the unjust distribution of environmental benefits and burdens as the decisions that change the environment are made by the people who enjoy the benefits to the exclusion of those that bear the burden. In many countries of the world, institutions that make decisions have historically excluded marginalized people and glaring inequalities in environmental political systems and policy-making remain the practice today (Menton et al., 2020). This is even more pronounced in Nigeria where current environmental mechanisms and policies are unjust, exclusionary, and do not involve the people in decision-making (Etemire & Uwoh Sobere, 2020). Distributive Justice is also relevant to my study whereby the majority of the communities who suffer flooding have no political capital and do not receive any help from the government. Government action to alleviate flooding in Nigeria is skewed and only known to benefit the elite, politically connected, and powerful who live in the affluent areas of the country. State institutions are known to implicitly or explicitly accord disparate recognition to different groups (Schlosberg, 2013). This is true for Nigeria where there have been, and are intense efforts to demolish and evict disadvantaged communities who suffer flooding instead of seeking ways to make the settlements more sustainable. For example, in Lagos, a mega-city of over 20 million people where flooding is also a problem, government action to control floods since 1990 has centered on demolitions and evictions in poorer slum communities like the Badia and Makoko settlements (Ajibade & McBean, 2014; Douglas, 2017). Slum clearance is the preferred flood prevention and development action instead of developing co-operative and inclusive strategies with grassroots involvement. This is unjust and does not factor in the complexities surrounding the flooding problem (Douglas, 2017). Some of these complexities include social ties to place, socio-cultural identities, and forced displacements which can lead to homelessness. There have been calls by researchers in Nigeria and elsewhere to embed the core tenets and practical approaches of EJ within evolving sustainable development polity (Agyeman, Bullard, & Evans, 2002; Emejuru & Izzi, 2015).
Flooding threatens the core fabric of society and disproportionately impacts the disadvantaged. As such, environmental justice principles can be applied by involving impacted communities in research. A just approach would ensure that people who are impacted by environmental issues form part of the decision-making process in framing policies and environmental management. Public involvement is crucial for fostering effectiveness and accountability and building trust and cooperation among stakeholders (Li, 2017). A change in the way planning and management are undertaken is particularly necessary for Nigeria because of gaps in the current system. Encouraging grassroots participation has benefits that cut across environmental justice, consolidation of traditional knowledge, and encouraging the taking of ownership and proactiveness especially in matters of the environment that directly and indirectly impacts the earth. Promoting such co- operation is one of the driving reasons for incorporating EJ in this study. This is because it is a concept that disproportionately affected groups can relate to in contrast to the more global goals of sustainability which is more futuristic and may not be a tangible goal for many. According to (Agyeman et al., 2002), where convergence or cooperation of EJ and sustainability has happened, the results have been outstanding. The fusion of the two concepts has also been employed in research on sustainable cities and communities (Haughton, 1999), which is at the core of my research. Moreover, achieving the goals of sustainability is hinged on local actions which the EJ framework provides by emphasizing opportunities to ensure inclusion and a just and sustainable society by ensuring actions or inactions do not disadvantage any specific social group.
Flood Risk Management
Flood Risk Management (FRM) encompasses measures targeted at reducing the threats, probability, and impact of floods. A key component of FRM is developing long-term flood risk mitigation and intervention strategies that can resist climate change and reduce flood risk through the roll-out of sustainable, cost-effective, socially and environmentally acceptable means (Woodward, Gouldby, Kapelan, Khu, & Townend, 2011). Flood risk is expected to rise over the years and the intensity, severity, and frequency of rainfalls will steadily increase (Myhre et al., 2019). This makes it pertinent for FRM strategies to be robust and resilient in the face of impending climate-related events. Pluvial or rainfall flooding is particularly pertinent and forms the focus of this research because it is the main type of flooding experienced in many Nigerian cities and across the globe.
Pluvial flooding is particularly a critical issue in urban areas and occurs when the rainfall intensity exceeds the capacity of both the engineered and natural drainage infrastructure (Rosenzweig et al., 2018). The impacts of urbanization and climate change are expected to increase pluvial flood risk. Effective FRM entails bringing together the different perceptions and viewpoints of what comprises flood risk, the development mechanisms, the causes of the development, ways of reducing the risk, and different ways of combining the measures (Klijn, Kreibich, De Moel, & Penning-Rowsell, 2015). The problem needs to be adequately framed, understood and the best control measure or policy solutions adopted. Flood risk varies and as such, no one approach is best suited for everywhere. The practice has been that countries/localities adopt measures that suit their geographical dynamics. For example, the Netherlands’ government adopts a multi-layered approach to FRM with flood protection as the base, sustainable spatial development as a supplement and disaster management as last resort approach (Klijn et al., 2015). In the UK, even as the majority of the flood-prone land is made up of natural valleys with no flood protection, communities have also been known to find unique solutions to suit their local environment (Klijn et al., 2015).
There have been several positive outcomes from involving residents in flooding research. One example is the Ryedale Flood Research Group in the UK which enabled people affected by flooding to seek alternative ways of mitigating local flooding issues to become actively involved in the production of custom flood management strategies which were then put into the public domain and influenced flood risk management practices and knowledge (Landström et al., 2011; Lane, Landström, & Whatmore, 2011; Whatmore & Landström, 2011). The field of FRM is quite hierarchical adopting a top-down approach (Fekete et al., 2021), therefore, a shift to a more participatory approach involving residents who experience flooding is important especially given the dynamics of flooding. For example, different types of flooding occur in different locations which should require tailored mitigation approaches. For example, European countries experience mainly fluvial flooding while Nigeria and Ghana, for instance, experience fluvial and pluvial flooding in different parts of these countries. Urban sprawl has also been identified as a major driver of increasing flood risk (Klijn et al., 2015), as has also been observed in Port Harcourt.
It is common to have regulations that protect people from flooding which all local planning authorities are expected to comply with but this is not the case in Nigeria where development has occurred in areas not appropriate for housing developments (Echendu, 2021). There is no integrated FRM strategy in place and this has led to the adoption of sub-optimal solutions where in many cases, more problems are created instead of solutions (Echendu, 2020a). A rethinking of what FRM means and ways to meet challenges posed by changing times for mitigation and adaptation is essential to find meaningful solutions to flooding. It is time to start thinking beyond the present and more towards a sustainable future by being proactive in anticipating and planning for developments and environmental changes and act quickly upon the evidence-based knowledge.
Africa is lagging in disaster planning even though its population and economy are highly vulnerable to climate impacts (Nkrumah et al., 2019). This work will contribute to the body of work in flooding research as well as seek scalable solutions that could influence FRM elsewhere in Africa, in developing regions of the world, and wherever a similar phenomenon is experienced. There is evidence that people impacted by floods in Nigeria make efforts to mitigate flood risk but a more streamlined and concerted effort would yield more positive outcomes and also prevent sub-optimization for example flood mitigation efforts at a place causing flooding elsewhere. It is in this regard that this work seeks to work with communities in a bid to find lasting sustainable solutions to flooding.
My work will adopt the case study research design and a mixed methods research methodology. Mixed methods research involves combining elements of quantitative and qualitative research approaches to deepen and expand the depth of findings and understanding. It provides an opportunity to corroborate, elaborate, or clarify results (Schoonenboom & Johnson, 2017; Timans, Wouters, & Heilbron, 2019). Survey research will be employed. According to De Vaus (2008), survey research is inherently quantitative and positivistic in direct contrast to qualitative methods such as participant observation, unstructured interviewing, case studies, etc., and helps to assess thoughts, opinions, and feelings of a large number of people. Qualitative research on its part is suited for research that involves developing a theory to aid in capturing and explaining the complexity of an issue among population groups or individuals which existing theories do not satisfactorily explain (Liamputtong, 2009). Even though both men and women will be participants in this research, I intend to engage more deeply with women who are rendered more vulnerable by flooding as a result of gender ascribed roles (Akintoye, Eyong, Effiong, Agada, & Digha, 2016), and who also have important knowledge and unique perspectives to contribute. Specifically, residents and indigenes of select neighborhoods for whom the flooding is a recent experience and where prior research has never been conducted will be the focus of my research.
There is a significant gap in harnessing and leveraging local knowledge in disaster risk management in Nigeria which this work will contribute to filling. Knowledge from this research will inform sustainable flood risk management. The conceptual frameworks informing this work stem from different movements and academic fields with different core goals. In my work, these frameworks complement each other and will enable a deeper analysis of the research problem. While sustainability focuses on multiple-scale policy-making and ensuring the needs of the future generation are not compromised, EJ focuses more on grassroots everyday current power imbalances that unequally impact specific groups. Sustainability goals have emerged from technocratic policy processes in contrast to EJ birthed from grassroots pushback to those top-down decisions with lopsided impacts on disadvantaged members of the society. As observed by (Agyeman & Evans, 2004), the EJ movement also considers intergenerational equity while also demanding the elimination of the injustice being experienced by the current generation and considerations for the planet as a whole. Adopting these top-down and bottom-up conceptual frameworks in my work will enable a more holistic understanding of a problem that requires both levels of action for sustainable solutions. FRM is aimed at developing long-term flood risk mitigation and intervention strategies that can resist climate change and reduce flood risk through the deployment of sustainable, cost-effective, socially, and environmentally acceptable means. In this research, these three conceptual frameworks become woven into each other whereby FRM becomes a sustainability goal and the active involvement of the people in FRM is at the core of environmental justice whereby the people who are affected by environmental issues are also involved in seeking solutions with the overarching goal of achieving sustainability. Flooding research needs to be more inclusive and involve people who have lived experiences of flooding. Community engagement is the first step to understanding and seeking solutions to a problem that is set to worsen in the years to come (Henderson, Steiner, Farmer, & Whittam, 2020). Evidence abounds that citizen involvement in tackling environmental issues leads to long-term sustainable outcomes, even beyond flooding to the wider ecosystem (McEwen, Holmes, Quinn, & Cobbing, 2018; Reed et al., 2018). It is envisaged that this research will contribute to knowledge on flood control, inform policy and enhance citizen participation in solving environmental problems.
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