How do rural-urban linkages change after an extreme flood event? Empirical evidence from rural communities in Pakistan

Sci Total Environ. 2021 Jan 1;750:141462. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141462. Epub 2020 Aug 9.

Abstract

Extreme flood events can lead to dramatic changes in societal processes, disrupt rural-urban linkages and affect rural vulnerabilities. Changes in rural-urban linkages due to extreme flooding have been theoretically discussed with limited empirical evidence. Therefore, this study investigates the impacts of a flood event on linkages between rural and urban areas of Pakistan. This study also examines socioeconomic and spatial factors that can influence changes in rural-urban linkages. Three case studies were selected from the Punjab province of Pakistan, and a total of 325 samples were collected through household surveys. Descriptive statistics, binary logistic regression and correlation analysis were conducted to analyse the data. The findings show that flooding has severely affected rural communities directly and indirectly. This paper details the many different ways in which floods can change rural linkages with cities-i.e., the flow of people, information, finance, goods and services between rural and urban areas. The results also reveal that the age of household head, education, income and farming occupation are influential factors that affect how rural-urban linkages change. Most importantly, the research highlights that extreme flooding can both increase and decrease the dependence of rural communities on cities in different ways. This indicates that linkages between rural and urban areas need to be strengthened in order to reduce flood-related vulnerabilities. This study paves the way for regional planners and disaster managers to establish synergies for developing integrated flood risk management and development strategies.

Keywords: Climate change; Disaster risk reduction; Extreme events; Flood impacts; Punjab; Regional development; Rural-urban dependencies; Vulnerability dynamics.