Indigenous peoples are at greater risk of flooding due to climate change

A recent study is shedding light on the disparities in which communities in Canada will be hardest hit by climate change.

Research published last month in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science and led by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, found that Indigenous communities are at greater risk. on flooding caused by climate change because of pre-existing socioeconomic vulnerabilities.

Factors influencing vulnerabilities, as enumerated by the researchers, include legacy of colonization, race and ethnicity, income, built environment, high population age, education, occupation, family structure, and access to resources.

The researchers conducted an analysis of flood risk data, including flood exposure rates in residential areas and socioeconomic data, to assess flood risk for indigenous communities. inhabited on 985 reserve lands across more than 3000 census subdivisions.

The data has provided important information to support risk management planning for Indigenous communities, “especially in the context of increasing climate change,” according to a news release.

The study found that 81% of the 985 Indigenous land reserves had some flood exposure affecting the population or residential property and 98.3% of the 809 Indigenous reserves. Census-defined locations already face some form of flood risk.

Flood risk is divided into three categories: “alluvial”, which refers to rivers and ice blockages, “silt”, which refers to intense rain that causes flooding, or “coastal”, which refers to water storm surge, as determined by risk management and flood modeling firm JBA Risk Management.

The flood maps created by the company are widely used in the Canadian insurance market and have a national reach, providing research with a more complete pool of data.

And while the analysis shows that flood exposure at the residential property level is similar between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, “socioeconomic vulnerability is higher across reserves,” which the researchers assert is higher overall risk faced by Indigenous communities.

At the provincial level, the study found that Indigenous Peoples of Prince Edward Island had the highest flood exposure, while Manitoba had the highest percentage of the total population at risk of 100-year flooding with 49 .8%, second to BC.

More than 80% of the spare residential areas in Alberta were flooded, the highest rate of any province and territory.

Lead author of the study Liton Chakraborty said: “This is the first attempt in Canada to assess location-based social vulnerability and exposure to flooding for Indigenous peoples at the level nation. “The study contributes to knowledge of the socioeconomic factors that contribute to flood risk for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples living in the reserve.”

The researchers say in their analysis there are significant gaps in the available data that limit the assessment of flood risk in Canada, such as geography, topography, and local data on risk flooding, and the federal government should prioritize resources to determine flood exposure in Indigenous communities.


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