Research activity report


Project name: Assessment of Vulnerability to Flood: A Case Study in Sambas Regency, Indonesia.


Project Leader: Muriadi



Within recent decades, damaging flood occurrence is increasing whole over the world.  As consequence, people who live in floodplain area are changing from beneficiary to be vulnerable to flood. Therefore vulnerability assessment is getting important whether as a part of risk management system or for policy support requirements.

UN (Undated) stated that on a global basis, there is evidence that the number of people affected and economic damages resulting from flooding are on the rise at an alarming rate. Increasing climate warming and its variability is one of factors that contribute to increasing risk of flooding (Wetherald and Manabe, 2002). While, Kundzewicz et al (2007) mentioned that precipitation intensity, volume, timing, antecedent conditions of rivers and their drainage basins, as well as human encroachment into floodplains and lack of flood response plans increase the damage potential. From all of the factors, human activity is the main focus of attention. Urbanization for instance, is an example of how human activity exacerbates the size and frequency of floods and may in turn expose communities to increasing flood hazards (Konrad 2013). Another example is deforestation in the headwaters. Land clearing for plantation or agricultural activity, mineral mining, and timber logging are among causes of deforestation that further much contributes to increasing flood events.

Unfortunately, in many developing countries pursuing economic prosperity still much depends on the extraction of natural resources. Therefore, it is often that the environmental problems accompanying resource depletion are exacerbated by development policy (Redclift 1991 p.20). In such condition, it is a challenging effort to preserve natural hydrological system while supporting economic growth and employment opportunities to millions of people.

Forest is one example of natural resources that economically valuable but also crucial for hydrological system. Agrawal et al (2013) stated that historically, forests have played a major role to influence patterns of economic development, supporting livelihoods, helping structure economic change, and promoting sustainable growth. At the same time, forest mainly functions to hold rainfall water from runoff. In some cases, forest canopy can block one third of rainfall water (Zhang et al 1994). Thus, destroying forests is like puncturing a wall of great dam. Unfortunately, it is happening in many floodplain areas. As consequence, the area that for a long time benefited from natural inundation, now are becoming disaster prone areas. For instance, coastal areas of Southeast Asian countries that basically agricultural rich floodplains such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam and archipelago of Indonesia now are frequently experiencing damaging floods.






In such increasing magnitude and frequency of floods, assessing people vulnerability to flood is also increasingly important. The main purpose is to inform decision-makers or specific stakeholders about options for adapting to the impact of flooding hazards (Douben 2006). By studying vulnerability, it can be recognized correct actions that can be taken to reduce vulnerability before the possible harm is realized (Balica 2007). Generally speaking, without vulnerability assessment, it is hard to formulate appropriate policies for coping with hazardous events and improving resilience of element at risks.

Vulnerability assessment is core of disaster risk management. IPCC (2012) in its summary for policy makers mentioned that disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change focus on reducing exposure and vulnerability and increasing resilience to the potential adverse impacts of climate extremes, even though risks cannot fully be eliminated. A vulnerability analysis and assessment can also be used to identify the emergency responses that may be required, including the need for temporary shelters and evacuation requirements (UN undated)

While there is no doubt on the importance of vulnerability study and assessment, models and methods are vary. Many models have been developed and applied around the world. However, broadness of vulnerability definition and complexity of vulnerability analysis makes a single model and method for general application is hardly applied. The most accepted way is development of models and methods for assessing vulnerability in regard of specificity of environmental hazards and specificity of area contexts without derailing from general accepted frameworks of vulnerability analysis.



Sambas Regency is one of regencies in Indonesia. Located in relatively low and flat area, Sambas Regency experiences flood almost every year. Heavy rain in December and January usually results in large scale of inundation across the region.

Sambas Regency has many rivers. There are four main river catchments in the main land of Sambas Regency, namely: Paloh River Catchment, Sambas River Catchment, Sebangkau River Catchment and Selakau River Catchment. Sambas River Catchment is the main river catchment in which majority of population concentrated. 16 out of 19 sub districts of Sambas Regency are located along Sambas River Catchment area. With such geomorphology, Riverine Slow-Onset flooding is the most common happened floods in Sambas Regency. Continuous heavy rain for several weeks whether in coastal area and particularly in headwaters area will increase possibility of flooding along river catchments areas.



Map: Sambas Regency by Sub Districts

Description: Sambas.jpg





Pictures depict some activities during fieldwork






Result of this research was presented in a student poster session the International Forum for Sustainable Asia and The Pacific (ISAP) 2013 at Yokohama Pacific. This research has been awarded as audience choice.