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The correlation between social resilience and flooding in low-income communities: a case of Mzuzu City, Malawi

Author / Authors:

  • Bwanali, W
  • Manda, M.


International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-09-2022-0093


Floods are among the most frequent urban disasters in cities of the global south where capacity and resource limitations collude with rapid urbanization to force many poor people to live in flood prone settlements. This paper investigated the impact of flood disasters on social resilience of low-income communities in Mzuzu City, Malawi.

Using a quantitative design, 345 households were interviewed in Zolozolo West and Mzilawaingwe Wards in Mzuzu City. The survey instrument achieved a 100% response rate. A reliability test using Cronbach’s alpha showed internal consistency of survey instrument at 0.711 for Zolozolo West Ward and 0.730 for Mzilawaingwe Ward.

Out of the eleven indicators of social resilience used in this study, six indicators showed no correlation with the outcome expectancy of social resilience. Of the five indicators that showed relationship with social resilience, only improvisation and inventiveness (rs = 0.356, p = 0.000 at two-tailed, n = 213; rs = 0.610, p = 0.000 at two-tailed, n = 132) had a strong relationship with the outcome expectancy of social resilience.

Research limitations/implications
The study was only conducted in two settlements; caution should be observed when generalizing the results.

Practical implications
Practitioners should ensure that social resilience strengthening mechanisms are incorporated in flood risk management as they strive to achieve SDG 11 of making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

The study showed how floods can negatively impact the social resilience of low-income communities, which is different from common knowledge that floods can enhance community social resilience.


  • Journal Article