The interplay of top-down planning and adaptive self-organization in an African floodplain
MetadataShow full item record
Natural floodplains are complex social-ecological systems in which human livelihoods are tightly coupled with flooding dynamics. In this paper, we argue that hydraulic planning in such systems, including to mitigate extreme floods, must consider three key features of adaptive self-organizing systems in floodplains - connectivity, learning feedbacks, and rhythms - to support the resilience of floodplain communities to extreme floods. We illustrate this argument with a case study of the Logone Floodplain, Cameroon. Based on hydrological data, ethnographic research and a series of focus group interviews with floodplain villagers, we analyze the interplay of top-down planning and adaptive self-organization in response to two extreme floods in 2012 and 2015. We show that recent top-down strategies of hydraulic control in the floodplain have led to more hydraulic uncertainty for local populations, and curtailed the conditions for sustainable self-organization in the floodplain.
This publication has been entered into Griffith Research Online as an Advanced Online Version.
Anthropology not elsewhere classified