A contextual analysis of flood hazard management in peninsular Malaysia
Chan, Ngai Weng
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This research seeks to explain the creation and perpetuation of flood hazards in Peninsular Malaysia in terms of a 'hazard response-in-context' model. Socio-political (socio-cultural and political economy) and institutional contexts are found to be central to understanding hazards as essentially socially-created phenomena superimposed onto a physical process system through which hazards are transmitted. Malaysia is an ex-colonial, newly-industrialising country. The pace of social, economic and political change is fast, as is the pace of technological change. Other things being equal, these are the contexts in which flood hazards are magnified. Contexts are changing, and changing physical systems have given rise to increased flood risk, exposure and vulnerability. Other contexts, largely structural, such as persistent poverty, low residential and occupational mobility, landlessness, and ethnic culture have also contributed to increased vulnerability to flood hazards. The situation, behaviour and response of individual floodplain occupants in Peninsular Malaysia are found to be heavily influenced by macro socio-political contexts. These are also termed contextual forces and they are fundamentally 'structural'. Macro contexts also 'condition' institutions (meso context) and influence their approach to hazard management including their effectiveness. Institutions (including organisations) were found to be largely inadequate in their management and reduction of flood hazards, and can be improved to create positive influences on flood hazard reduction as well as help individuals (micro context) cope more effectively. Both socio-political and institutional contexts were found to be important as they amplify hazards or fail to adequately address and reduce them. The pioneering of what is termed 'segment analysis' to analyse links between contexts at various levels is an important contribution in this research. The research concludes that the hazard response-in-context model is appropriately applied to Peninsular Malaysia as it handles both structural and institutional contexts and individual management of flood hazards effectively.