Severe flooding is a major cause of human displacement. According to the latest annual report by the International Displacement Monitoring Centre, around 61 million people were forced to move within their country of residence during 2022 due to conflict or disasters. More than one quarter of these—19.2 million people—were displaced by floods. But flood displacement also varies greatly across both events and countries. What might explain this variation? Being able to predict the levels of flood displacement may help create more effective responses—especially in key areas such as lowering the risks of exposure to such events and acquiring the mobility to evade or escape them. In this blog post, we discuss findings and lessons learned from a new article just published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), where we sought to identify what drives variation in flood displacement. For a number of reasons, we were not able to predict the magnitude of such events with confidence. Yet, our analysis revealed a number of insights of relevance to future research as well as to policy and practice in disaster risk management.
Buhaug, Halvard & Jonas Vestby (2024) Before the flood: Lessons from attempts to predict displacement, New Security Beat. 9 January.