POPULAR COMMUNITY PERCEPTIONS ON FLOOD DISASTERS AND CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES IN BOTSWANA
This paper reports on a 2012-2015 study that set out to investigate the problem that although Botswana is a semi-arid country there have been increasing instances, frequency and intensity of flood disasters in space and time in the country since 2000. Despite this, there have been no major investigations to determine community awareness on the link between climate change, community vulnerability and its resilience capacity to flood disasters and how that could affect the sustainable human settlements drive. The purpose of the study was therefore to assess community perceptions on their vulnerability to floods disasters in human settlements in eastern Botswana based on case studies of Gaborone, Francistown, Mahalapye and Palapye. The stakeholder theory is the analytical framework used. The methodology of the study comprised of a social survey based on a sample of 686 household interviews drawn from the general population in the study area. Complimentary qualitative data was obtained using key informant interviews on officials and community leaders. The main findings were that: first, there was much awareness on the climate change issue among 3 in 5 (63.2%, N=686); second, the majority of the respondents (78.6%, N=686) did not feel that their communities were vulnerable and exposed to flood disasters as a function of climate change; third, overall about 70% of the respondents were neither aware nor prepared for floods disasters induced by climate change; finally, there were mixed results on flood mitigation and resilience strategies identified by communities in the study area. The main conclusion drawn is that most communities were aware of the issue of climate change but there was not much awareness about the risk of flood disasters to communities and assets in settlements. Decision and policy makers, particularly urban planners and environmental engineers are challenged to be aware of the risk of flood disasters such that they encourage sustainable land use planning. Similarly, the two set of professionals should facilitate the design of environmental management infrastructure such as drainage systems that reduce vulnerability of settlements and communities to floods disasters.