Coping with drought and flooding: a framework for engendering household and community resilience to water management extremes
Bryan, Kimberly Alicia
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
For the purpose of publications
Achieving resilient outcomes in the water sector is an area of emerging policy and research focus in light of a combination of threats such as climate change, increasing demand, urbanisation, and population growth. Consequences of these threats require that in order to achieve these resilient outcomes, urban water management socio-technical systems require various interventions at different levels. This includes the water user level and highlights the need for greater understanding of households in implementing coping interventions to address extreme system failures of drought and flooding. A combination of methodological approaches, data collection and analytical methods have been used to develop detailed understanding of water service user perceptions and intentions towards drought and flood coping in order to engender action for resilient water management at the household and community levels. Practitioner interviews have provided insight into core issues of household and community level participatory approaches for addressing drought and flood resilience. These include cross-cutting themes relating to modes of communication and engagement, the influence of past experience, empowerment, and the influence of social networks. Results of a questionnaire survey within the framework of Protection Motivation Theory facilitated understanding of the linkages among threat, consequences, and coping intentions. The most significant indicators of behavioural intentions were the perceived effectiveness of coping response measures, consequences of drought or flooding, and costs. These variables were significant in defining sub-groups at three different decision-stages after Trans-theoretical Model. Households were at early decision stages with regards to flood coping, namely `Pre-contemplative' and `Contemplative'. Pre-contemplatives had low behavioural intentions and were driven by low efficacy and low consequences. Contemplatives had low-medium intentions, expected either that cost would be a limiting factor, measures ineffective, or consequences too low to warrant action. `Responsives', only found in relation to drought coping, had already implemented several coping measures. Despite low drought consequences, cost was not a limiting factor and measures were perceived to be effective, illustrating the potential for increased household drought coping or more sustainable water use practices. This study provides important baseline data on household perceptions and intentions to cope with droughts and floods not yet widely explored in the UK. The innovative use of cluster analysis to identify and explore decision-stages provides methodological contributions to the literature. Finally, the thesis has led to the development of an assessment and decision framework to promote action towards resilient water management at the household and community levels. This framework is the basis of a toolkit that was co-created with communities and practitioners with the outcome of communities developing action plans to address the consequences of drought and flooding.
The work reported was funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) project “Safe and SuRe: Towards a new paradigm for urban water management”.