The Impact of Extreme Floods on Rural Communities: Evidence from Pakistan

  • Ali JamshedEmail author
  • Joern Birkmann
  • Joanna M. McMillan
  • Irfan Ahmad Rana
  • Hannes Lauer
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


This chapter studies impacts of flood events on the livelihoods of rural communities in Pakistan. It explores the adverse effects of extreme flooding, as well as how communities learn and adapt their livelihoods in the wake of such events. Three flood-affected districts in the province of Punjab were selected as case study areas. A household survey was conducted and analyzed by using descriptive statistics. The results suggest that various livelihood assets were adversely impacted by flooding. The most significant impact was the loss of assets in farming communities. The impact of floods has led to several changes in the communities—notably, households changed how they make a living and their relationship with the nearest major city. Other changes include changes in construction techniques and a range of behavioural changes. Differences among communities were found, particularly in how they responded to flood events. It was observed that rural communities near large city more rapidly adopt changes that make them better adapted to future flooding as they have access to more avenues for livelihood diversification and more services, as well as better and more innovative markets. Observing and understanding these changes that the surveyed rural households made in response to flooding, is an important contribution to understanding how communities can adapt to extreme events and how this adaptation can be supported.


Extreme flood Impact assessment Livelihoods Disaster risk reduction Climate change adaptation Rural-urban linkages Pakistan 



This research work is a part of the Ph.D. process at the Institute of Spatial and Regional Planning (IREUS), University of Stuttgart, Germany. The authors would like to thank Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan (SAP-50020940) and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (PIN = 91549672) for providing funding to the first author to carry out research work.


  1. Abid M, Scheffran J, Schneider UA, Ashfaq M (2015) Farmers’ perceptions of and adaptation strategies to climate change and their determinants: the case of Punjab province, Pakistan. Earth Syst Dyn 6(1):225–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abid M, Schneider UA, Scheffran J (2016) Adaptation to climate change and its impacts on food productivity and crop income. Perspectives of farmers in rural Pakistan. J Rural Stud 47:254–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ahmad Z, Hafeez M, Ahmad I (2012) Hydrology of mountainous areas in the upper Indus Basin, Northern Pakistan with the perspective of climate change. Environ Monit Assess 184(9):5255–5274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ahsan R, Noreen I (2009) District profile and sector assessments—Multan District, IslamabadGoogle Scholar
  5. Akbar MS, Aldrich DP (2018) Social capital’s role in recovery. Evidence from communities affected by the 2010 Pakistan floods. Disasters 42(3):475–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alfieri L, Bisselink B, Dottori F, Naumann G, de Roo A, Salamon P, Wyser K, Feyen L (2017) Global projections of river flood risk in a warmer world. Earth’s Future 5(2):171–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ali A, Erenstein O (2017) Assessing farmer use of climate change adaptation practices and impacts on food security and poverty in Pakistan. Clim Risk Manag 16:183–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ali S, Liu Y, Ishaq M, Shah T, Abdullah, Ilyas A, Din IU (2017) Climate change and its impact on the yield of major food crops: Evidence from Pakistan. Foods 6(6)Google Scholar
  9. Arai T (2012) Rebuilding Pakistan in the aftermath of the floods. Disaster relief as conflict prevention. J Peacebuild Dev 7(1):51–65Google Scholar
  10. Arshad M, Amjath-Babu TS, Kächele H, Müller K (2015) What drives the willingness to pay for crop insurance against extreme weather events (flood and drought) in Pakistan? A hypothetical market approach. Clim Dev 8(3):234–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Arshad M, Kächele H, Krupnik TJ, Amjath-Babu TS, Aravindakshan S, Abbas A, Mehmood Y, Müller K (2016) Climate variability, farmland value, and farmers’ perceptions of climate change. Implications for adaptation in rural Pakistan. Int J Sustain Dev World Ecol 24(6):532–544Google Scholar
  12. Berkes F, Colding J, Folke C (eds) (2003) Navigating social-ecological systems. Building resilience for complexity and change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  13. Bilak A, Cardona-Fox G, Ginnetti J, Rushing EJ, Scherer I, Swain M, Walicki N, Yonetani M (2016) Global report on internal displacement. GenevaGoogle Scholar
  14. Birkmann J (2011) Regulation and coupling of society and nature in the context of natural hazards. In: Brauch HG (ed) Coping with global environmental change, disasters and security, vol 5. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin, pp 1103–1127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Birkmann J, Buckle P, Jaeger J, Pelling M, Setiadi N, Garschagen M, Fernando N, Kropp J (2008) Extreme events and disasters. A window of opportunity for change? Analysis of organizational, institutional and political changes, formal and informal responses after mega-disasters. Nat Hazards 55(3):637–655Google Scholar
  16. Birkmann J, Teichman K, Aldunce P, Bach C, Binh NT, Garschagen M, Kanwar S, Setiadi N, Le Thach N, Oliver-Smith A (2009) Addressing the challenge. Recommendations and quality criteria for linking disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change. In: Birkmann J, Telzlaff G, Zentel K-O (eds). DKKV, BonnGoogle Scholar
  17. Cheema AR, Mehmood A, Imran M (2016) Learning from the past. Disaster Prev Manag 25(4):449–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cochran WG (1977) Sampling techniques, 3rd edn. Wiley series in probability and mathematical statistics. Wiley, New York, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Directorate of Industries Punjab DoIP (2012) District pre-investment study—2012. Bhakkar. Accessed 21 Mar 2018
  20. Doocy S, Daniels A, Murray S, Kirsch T (2013a) The human impact of floods. A historical review of events 1980–2009 and systematic literature review. PLoS Curr 5Google Scholar
  21. Doocy S, Leidman E, Aung T, Kirsch T (2013b) Household economic and food security after the 2010 Pakistan floods. Food Nutr Bull 34(1):95–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. EM-DAT (2018) Disaster damages. Accessed 27 Nov 2018
  23. Folke C (2006) Resilience. The emergence of a perspective for social–ecological systems analyses. Glob Environ Change 16(3):253–267Google Scholar
  24. Government of Pakistan GoP (2012) National disaster risk reduction policy-2012. Government of Pakistan, IslamabadGoogle Scholar
  25. Hanif U, Syed SH, Ahmad R, Malik KA (2010) Economic impact of climate change on the agricultural sector of Punjab. Pak Dev Rev 49(4):771–798CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hussain SS, Mudasser M (2007) Prospects for wheat production under changing climate in mountain areas of Pakistan—an econometric analysis. Agric Syst 94(2):494–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hussain M, Mumtaz S (2014) Climate change and managing water crisis. Pakistan’s perspective. Rev Environ Health 29(1–2):71–77Google Scholar
  28. Hussain A, Routray JK (2012) Status and factors of food security in Pakistan. Int J Dev Issues 11(2):164–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hussain A, Rasul G, Mahapatra B, Tuladhar S (2016) Household food security in the face of climate change in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region. Food Secur 8(5):921–937CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC (2012) Summary for policy makers. In: Field CB, Barros V, Stocker TF, Dahe Q, Dokken DJ, Ebi KL, Mastrandrea MD, Mach KJ, Plattner GK, Allen SK, Tignor M, Midgley PM (eds) Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. Special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 3–24Google Scholar
  31. Jamal H (2012) Districts’ indices of multiple deprivations for Pakistan, 2011. Research report. Sustainable Policy Development Centre, IslamabadGoogle Scholar
  32. Jamshed A (2015) Assessing vulnerability and capacity of flood affected communities in Punjab, Pakistan. Case study: district Jhang and Muzaffargarh. Master, University of Stuttgart, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  33. Jamshed A, Rana IA, Birkmann J, Nadeem O (2017) Changes in vulnerability and response capacities of rural communities after extreme events. Case of major floods of 2010 and 2014 in Pakistan. J Extrem Events 4(3):1750013Google Scholar
  34. Jamshed A, Rana IA, Khan MA, Agarwal N, Ali A, Ostwal M (2018) Community participation framework for post-disaster resettlement and its practical application in Pakistan. Disaster Prev Manag 27(5):604–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jamshed A, Rana IA, Mirza UM, Birkmann J (2019) Assessing relationship between vulnerability and capacity. An empirical study on rural flooding in Pakistan. Int J Disaster Risk Reduct 36:101109Google Scholar
  36. Jongman B, Ward PJ, Aerts JCJH (2012) Global exposure to river and coastal flooding. Long term trends and changes. Glob Environ Change 22(4):823–835Google Scholar
  37. Jongman B, Winsemius HC, Fraser SA, Muis S, Ward PJ (2018) Assessment and adaptation to climate change related flood risks. Nat Hazard Sci 1–29Google Scholar
  38. Kinoshita Y, Tanoue M, Watanabe S, Hirabayashi Y (2018) Quantifying the effect of autonomous adaptation to global river flood projections. Application to future flood risk assessments. Environ Res Lett 13(1):14006Google Scholar
  39. Kirsch TD, Wadhwani C, Sauer L, Doocy S, Catlett C (2012) Impact of the 2010 Pakistan floods on rural and urban populations at six months. PLoS Curr 4:e4fdfb212d2432Google Scholar
  40. Kosec K, Mo CH (2017) Aspirations and the role of social protection. Evidence from a natural disaster in rural Pakistan. World Dev 97:49–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kreft S, Eckstein D, Melchior I (2016) Global climate risk index 2017. Who suffers most from extreme weather events? Weather-related loss events in 2015 and 1996 to 2015. Germanwatch Nord-Süd Initiative e.V, BonnGoogle Scholar
  42. Kundzewicz ZW, Kanae S, Seneviratne SI, Handmer J, Nicholls N, Peduzzi P, Mechler R, Bouwer LM, Arnell N, Mach K, Muir-Wood R, Brakenridge GR, Kron W, Benito G, Honda Y, Takahashi K, Sherstyukov B (2013) Flood risk and climate change. Global and regional perspectives. Hydrol Sci J 59(1):1–28Google Scholar
  43. Mahmood R, Jia S, Babel M (2016) Potential impacts of climate change on water resources in the Kunhar River Basin, Pakistan. Water 8(1):23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mueller V, Gray C, Kosec K (2014) Heat stress increases long-term human migration in rural Pakistan. Nat Clim Change 4:182–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Muis S, Güneralp B, Jongman B, Aerts JCJH, Ward PJ (2015) Flood risk and adaptation strategies under climate change and urban expansion. A probabilistic analysis using global data. Sci Total Environ 538:445–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nadeem O, Jamshed A, Hameed R, Anjum GA, Khan MA (2014) Post-flood rehabilitation of affected communities by NGOs in Punjab, Pakistan. Learning lessons for future. J Fac Eng Technol 21(1):1–20Google Scholar
  47. National Disaster Management Authority NDMA (2010) Flood 2010. Accessed 26 May 2015
  48. National Disaster Management Authority NDMA (2012) National disaster management plan-2012. National Disaster Management Authority, IslamabadGoogle Scholar
  49. National Disaster Management Authority NDMA (2014) Multi-sector initial rapid assessment (MIRA) PDMA/NDMA/HCT Punjab floods. National Disaster Management Authority. Accessed 26 Jan 2015
  50. O’Neill BC, Kriegler E, Riahi K, Ebi KL, Hallegatte S, Carter TR, Mathur R, van Vuuren DP (2014) A new scenario framework for climate change research. The concept of shared socioeconomic pathways. Clim Change 122(3):387–400Google Scholar
  51. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics PBS (2017) Province wise provisional results of census. Accessed 13 Feb 2018
  52. Provincial Disaster Management Authority PDMA (2014) Punjab disaster response plan. Accessed 26 Jan 2015
  53. Qureshi AS (2011) Water management in the Indus Basin in Pakistan. Challenges and opportunities. Mt Res Dev 31(3):252–260Google Scholar
  54. Rana S (2017) 6th census findings: 207 million and counting. The Express Tribune, Islamabad. Accessed 19 Mar 2018
  55. Salik KM, Jahangir S, Zahdi WZ, Hasson S (2015) Climate change vulnerability and adaptation options for the coastal communities of Pakistan. Ocean Coast Manag 112:61–73. Scholar
  56. Saqib SE, Ahmad MM, Panezai S, Rana IA (2016) An empirical assessment of farmers’ risk attitudes in flood-prone areas of Pakistan. Int J Disaster Risk Reduct 18:107–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Siddiqui R, Samad G, Nasir M, Jalil HH (2012) The impact of climate change on major agricultural crops: evidence from Punjab, Pakistan. Pak Dev Rev 51(4):261–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sultana H, Ali N, Iqbal MM, Khan AM (2009) Vulnerability and adaptability of wheat production in different climatic zones of Pakistan under climate change scenarios. Clim Change 94(1–2):123–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tariq MAUR, van de Giesen N (2012) Floods and flood management in Pakistan. Phys Chem Earth Parts A/B/C 47–48:11–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Thomas A (2014) Rising waters, broken lives. Experience from Pakistan and Colombia floods suggests new approaches are needed. In: Martin S, Weerasinghe S, Taylor A (eds) Humanitarian crises and migration: causes, consequences and responses. Routledge, London, pp 53–76Google Scholar
  61. Ullah R, Shivakoti GP, Ali G (2015) Factors effecting farmers’ risk attitude and risk perceptions. the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Int J Disaster Risk Reduct 13:151–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction UNISDR (2009) UNISDR terminology on disaster risk reduction. GenevaGoogle Scholar
  63. Willner SN, Levermann A, Zhao F, Frieler K (2018) Adaptation required to preserve future high-end river flood risk at present levels. Sci Adv 4(1):eaao1914Google Scholar
  64. Winsemius HC, Aerts JCJH, van Beek LPH, Bierkens MFP, Bouwman A, Jongman B, Kwadijk JCJ, Ligtvoet W, Lucas PL, van Vuuren DP, Ward PJ (2016) Global drivers of future river flood risk. Nat Clim Change 6(4):381–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zhu T, Ringler C, Iqbal MM, Sulser TB, Goheer MA (2013) Climate change impacts and adaptation options for water and food in Pakistan. Scenario analysis using an integrated global water and food projections model. Water Int 38(5):651–669Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ali Jamshed
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joern Birkmann
    • 1
  • Joanna M. McMillan
    • 1
  • Irfan Ahmad Rana
    • 2
  • Hannes Lauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Spatial and Regional Planning (IREUS), University of StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Department of Urban and Regional PlanningNational University of Science and Technology Islamabad (NUST)IslamabadPakistan

Personalised recommendations