Indigenous communities most vulnerable to socioeconomic vulnerability due to flooding

Researchers have shown through a study that indigenous communities are at a greater risk of socioeconomic vulnerabilities due to flooding caused by climate change than any other faction of the society.

Researchers are of the opinion that indigenous communities are most vulnerable because of pre-existing socioeconomic vulnerability they are already facing due to legacy of colonization, attributes of race and ethnicity, income, built environment, elderly populations, education, occupation, family structure, and access to resources.

The study, led by University of Waterloo researcher Liton Chakraborty, found that measuring socioeconomic vulnerability to flooding provides valuable information to support Indigenous flood risk management planning, especially under accelerating climate change.

The report captured the percentage of the population and number of residential properties in a 100-year flood zone. The results revealed “hotspots” where flood risk spatially coincided with socioeconomic disadvantage.

“This is a first attempt in Canada to assess place-based social vulnerability and flood exposure for Indigenous populations at a national level,” Chakraborty said. “The study contributes to knowledge about socioeconomic factors that contribute to flood risk among First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples living on-reserve.”

Chakraborty also noted that there are considerable data gaps limiting flood risk assessment in Canada and that the federal government should prioritize resources for identifying flood exposure in Indigenous communities. “Part of the considerations should be the dynamic range of geography, topography, and available data inputs from local scale determinations of flood risk,” he said.

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