Agriculture: Cushioning vulnerability against natural catastrophes.

Pakistan is among the top ten countries most affected by natural disasters, including floods, according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021.

While numbers are insufficient to divulge the true footprint of a natural disaster, they can certainly underscore some of the repercussions. The catastrophic 2022 flood has taken the lives of about 1,739 people, around 13,000 suffered injuries, and roughly 2.3 million homes were damaged, affecting around 33m people in poverty-stricken areas, reveals the National Disaster Management Authority data.

Every time a natural calamity hits the country, the government follows the same prescription of emergency relief and vows to rebuild the damaged infrastructure at its earliest. However, what is highly critical yet missing in disaster management practices in Pakistan is pre-emptive and anticipatory planning, not to mention committed financial resources to respond to climate change-related disasters.

While underscoring anticipatory planning, the World Bank highlights that Pakistan needs significant investments to develop the resilience of its population and mitigate the impacts of natural disasters.

Farm households with access to agricultural extension services are 23pc more likely to implement flood adaptations strategies

As for anticipatory planning for flood management, there is an urgent need for decentralised and local-level initiatives such as communities' autonomous adaptation to floods. However, there is a lack of empirical evidence on local communities' adaptation to floods which could offer concrete suggestions to aid policy design and implementation.

To fill this gap, we conducted a research study on farming communities' adaptation to flooding in Northern Pakistan. This study was supported by the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) and was published in Ecological Economics, a high-ranked policy journal of environment and climate change economics.

The findings of this research yield some powerful insights and concrete policy suggestions to guide planners and policymakers in designing ex-ante and anticipatory policies for decentralised flood management at the local level. These findings are useful not only for policy design and implementation for floods but also for disaster management in general.

When local communities use flood adaptation strategies, their uptake is sub-optimal, and not all adaptation options are being used. This calls for a need to facilitate...

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