Floods and health in Gambella region, Ethiopia: a qualitative assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of coping mechanisms.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Floods are the most frequent and devastating type of natural disaster worldwide, causing unprecedented deaths, diseases, and destruction of property and crops. Flooding has a greater impact in developing countries due to lack of sufficient disaster management structures and a lack of economic resources. OBJECTIVE: This study was conducted with the aim of contributing to the knowledge base of development strategies that reduce flood-related health risks in developing countries. The study focused particularly on assessing the flood risks and health-related issues in the Gambella region of Ethiopia; with the intent of producing relevant information to assist with the improvements in the efficacy of the current flood coping strategies in the region. METHODS: Data were gathered through interviews with 14 officers from different government and non-governmental organizations and a questionnaire survey given to 35 flood victims in Itang woreda. A qualitative approach was applied and the data were analyzed using content analysis. RESULTS: It was found that flooding is a common problem in Gambella region. The findings also indicate that the flood frequency and magnitude has increased rapidly during the last decade. The increase in floods was driven mainly by climate change and changes in land use, specifically deforestation. The reported main impacts of flooding on human health in Gambella region were deaths, injuries, and diseases such as malaria and diarrhea. Another notable consequence of flooding was crop destruction and subsequent malnutrition. CONCLUSIONS: Three weaknesses that were identified in the current coping strategies for flood-related health impacts in Gambella region were a lack of flood-specific policy, absence of risk assessment, and weak institutional capacity. This study recommends new policy approaches that will increase the effectiveness of the current flood coping strategies to sustainably address the impact of flooding on human health.


  • Samson Wakuma Abaya
  • Nicodemus Mandere
  • Göran Ewald
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Health Action
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch