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Durham e-Theses
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Community Response to Flood Disaster:
A Case Study of Flooding in Penang,

BIN-ISMAIL, MOHD,MUZZAMMIL (2022) Community Response to Flood Disaster:
A Case Study of Flooding in Penang,
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



In November 2017, Penang Island, Malaysia, experienced the heaviest rainfall ever
recorded on the island. The city is very low lying, has undergone massive development
in the last three decades and is built predominantly of high-rise buildings on steep
slopes with land-reclamation megaprojects. Rapid urbanisation is another serious
environmental issue, leading to forest clearance, which means the area which can act
as a sponge to absorb excess water gets continually smaller; as a result, the city flooded.
There were several other flooding incidents across Malaysia in 2016-2017, but Penang
was the worst-affected area, recording 51 flash floods between January 2016 and midOctober 2017. As a consequence, a large proportion of the 220,000 homes in the city
were flooded.
This research demonstrates a comprehensive investigation of community resilience and
the factors affecting vulnerability at the household and organisational levels via the
experience of flood response in Teluk Kumbar, Penang Island. Over recent decades,
the increased incidence of flood disasters has been accompanied by a dramatic
proliferation of human inequalities, economic damage, environmental degradation,
recovery costs, institutional vulnerability, and political processes.
This research uses a multi-method approach in which the qualitative and quantitative
data were conducted sequentially. The data set comprises in-depth semi-structured
interviews with 28 experts to examine the construction of flood management
knowledge and its relation to decision-making. Additionally, 100 individuals, including
both male and female, were surveyed through a questionnaire, and 29 of them
participated in six separate focus-group discussions. Six months of fieldwork allowed
naturally occurring talk, unstructured interviews, and photovoice data related to locals'
daily lives to understand their social behaviours when responding to flooding
emergency times.
This dissertation is an endeavour to capture people's perception and response to
measure the effectiveness of the community's coping strategies, social capital, adaptive
capacity and identify factors that influence vulnerability to flooding hazard as a matter
of exposure to risk and susceptibility. One of the main stated objectives has emphasised
the necessity of improving community resilience regarding proactive preparedness and
their response to flood mitigation initiatives.
According to the study's findings, there is a strong correlation between people's local
knowledge, their social capital and how they developed their coping capacity,
preparedness and decision-making. In particular, the thesis centered on the absence of
local people's voices in local participation because of the political involvement and
bureaucratic nature. In fact, it was also clear that it’s negatively impact effective
emergency flood management and the response capacity of local residents.
Overall, results revealed that community preparedness should be well articulated with
the involvement of the local people that are ready to deal with any eventualities.
Specifically, this thesis uses the 2017 flood events to re-examine the theoretical and
conceptual understanding of progress in integrating resilience capacity building and
ongoing attention on flood mitigation in flood disaster preparedness at the community
level. Further, this research makes a practical and significant valuable contribution for
local government - public institutions (e.g. NADMA, Malaysia National Security
Council, Penang City Council), decision-makers, nonprofit volunteer organisations,
local community groups and relevant significant stakeholders, including professional
practitioners related to flood management and recovery.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:flooding; disaster risk reduction; community; coping strategies; disaster
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Mar 2022 10:16

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