Spatial Analysis of the Effects of Flooding on Food Security in Agrarian Communities of South Eastern Nigeria
Several studies have predicted climate change to cause some shifts in food security in the future with sparse research on the relationship between flooding (which is one of the manifestations of climate change) and food security especially in Nigeria. Flooding induced food insecurity by causing a negative shift in any of the dimensions of food security through reducing crop harvest and farm income derived from crop sales; damaging assets; destroying road and farm storage facilities among others. The southeastern Nigeria is generally agrarian and vulnerable to flooding (due mainly to its nearness to River Niger), and has comparative advantage in the production of crops like yams, maize, potatoes and cassava (staples), hence the need to do an in-depth study on the effects of flooding on food security in the region. In this pursuit, the study assessed the extent to which flooding affected the food security in eight (8) flood vulnerable and agrarian communities in Anambra and Imo States of southeastern Nigeria by examining the interactions between flooding and each of the four dimensions of food security (accessibility, availability, utilization and stability) to capture the multidimensional nature of food security. Analyses were drawn from imageries (MODIS and SRTM), questionnaire, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. A total of 400 households were sampled using multi-stage, stratified and random sampling methods and the data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The integrated vulnerability assessment approach using indicators (biophysical and socio-economic) were adopted to compute households’ flood vulnerability indices. The flood vulnerability index analysis shows that majority of households (49%) were less vulnerable to flooding whereas 3.5% and 47.5% were moderately and highly vulnerable to flooding respectively. Igbariam and Ossomala communities were found to be the flood vulnerability hotspots, and flood vulnerability indices of the 8 communities were mapped using ArcGIS 10.2 software. The flood vulnerability map showing the spatial variations in the study area’s different vulnerability levels would aid flood emergency response team to improve their flood preparedness plans, and to allocate relief materials to flood victims. The coefficients of the multiple regression model (with p- value ≤ 0.05 at 5% level of significance) revealed that the main determinants of households’ vulnerability to floods are age, level of education, off-farm incomes, pre-flood awareness, group membership, private land ownership, sufficient food production, available storage facility, use of fertilizer, receipt of food/aid in time of emergency, phone ownership, canoe ownership, financial support, diversified income, flood experience and severity of flood. Households were further classified into four food security levels (food secure (A), food insecure without hunger (B), moderately food insecure with hunger (C) and severely food insecure with hunger (D) using the HFSSM (developed by the USDA) prior to and after flood episodes. The results revealed that 33.3%, 40.2%, 13% and 13.5% households fell into the A, B, C and D food security levels respectively prior to flood events and 7.2%, 39.3%, 15.7% and 37.8% correspondingly fell into the A, B, C and D food security levels after flood events. The implication is that flooding affected food security negatively by increasing the number of food insecure households to 92.8%, indicating a 26.1% reduction in the number of food secure households and a 26.5% increase of food insecure households from normal. Igbariam community was the most affected community as it recorded the highest (72.1%) food insecurity hotspots (households that experienced extreme food insecurity with hunger) after flooding, followed by Ossomala community. The result of the binary logistic regression model showed that, the statistically (5%) significant variables (with p-value ≤ 0.05) that influence household food security status in south eastern, Nigeria are; sex, marital status, level of education, off-farm income, monthly income, dependency ratio, sufficiency in food production, livestock ownership, village poultry/poultry ownership, irrigation practice and flooding. Flooding was the only factor with a negative coefficient (-1.11) with an odds ratio of 0.33, implying that flooding induces food insecurity. The Ordinal Regression Analysis result indicated flooding as a limiting factor that affects food security negatively in the study area. The ANOVA results revealed significant inter-household differences in vulnerability to flooding and determinants of food security as well as a significant variation between female-headed and male-headed households with female-headed households being the most vulnerable to food insecurity, and households headed by younger people being the most vulnerable to flooding. Furthermore, the outcomes of the analysis indicate that most of the adaptation strategies employed were self-devised strategies that provided temporary means of survival in times of food shortages and flooding at the household level. Therefore, sustainable policies and strategies having more institutional undertone (e.g. social security, food safety nets for flood victims) are among the suggested efforts to minimize the effects of flooding and food insecurity.
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