Indigenous communities face a higher risk of socioeconomic vulnerability due to flooding
Pre-existing socioeconomic vulnerability of Indigenous communities often due to colonial policies
Pre-existing socioeconomic vulnerability of Indigenous communities often due to colonial policiesBy Media Relations
Indigenous communities are at higher risk of hardship from climate-change-caused flooding because of pre-existing socioeconomic vulnerability, a new study shows.
The study’s findings also reveal that factors influencing socioeconomic vulnerability in Indigenous communities include the 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.
“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.”
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.
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.
The study, Leveraging Hazard, Exposure, and Social Vulnerability Data to Assess Flood Risk to Indigenous Communities in Canada, authored by Waterloo researchers Chakraborty, Jason Thistlethwaite, Andrea Minano, Daniel Henstra and Daniel Scott, was recently published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Indigenous Initiatives Office.