In this talk, Dr Pedi Obani explores the impact of flooding in Benin City and the different ways in which people combat this hardship. Dr Obani also analyzes how these strategies could be improved for the betterment of the community as a whole.
Most fast growing cities across Africa are experiencing the negative impacts of the convergence of urbanisation and climate change. Climate change itself exposes individuals, communities, common goods and infrastructure to flooding, heat, and other extreme weather events in a way that compromises the delivery of basic services and human wellbeing. Very often, the negative impacts are exacerbated by intervening factors such as poverty and the failure of relevant institutions to support effective adaptation and mitigation. This research explores individual adaptation strategies to flooding and assesses their impacts and sustainability in the context of a low income urban setting in Benin City, Nigeria. It further examines the interplay between urban planning laws and processes, and local adaptation strategies. In practice, when faced with extreme weather events such as flooding, the affected individuals (including households) and communities adapt using the resources available in their environment and networks. Nonetheless, tensions between actor rationality and the optimal collective outcomes are likely to affect the quality of adaptation with community-wide consequences because individuals often appear to prefer strategies that maximize the personal rather than the collective benefits. This research identifies four heuristic types of relationships that are observable from individual adaptation strategies for flooding in low income urban settings, namely: isolation, competition, alliance, and cooperation. Furthermore, the paper makes recommendations for improving the coherence between personal adaptation strategies on the one hand, and the maximisation of the collective utility on the other hand as a means of achieving transformation towards sustainability.