The rural vulnerability differs from urban one in terms of poverty and livelihoods. First, the widening gap between rich and poor, rural and urban incomes and hence the disparity in living standards can be witnessed in the flood plains of developing countries.
The rural poor who depend on incomes from farming or other agricultural activities or make a living as hired farm laborers, with no reserves to put them back on their feet or pay for basic needs, are obliged to migrate to the cities and usually drive themselves into debt. Second, the principal livelihoods of communities living in rural flood plains are mainly farming and fishing. However, recurring floods threaten the stability of their livelihoods owing to the loss of farm products or limited access to the markets for their products in the absence of adequate transport infrastructure.
The landless poor, working as hired laborers, particularly during long flood seasons, have trouble finding jobs to meet their basic needs. Alternative livelihood options, such as traditional handicrafts, seasonal fishing and shrimp farming, commercial and small-scale plantations of water-resistant plants or trees such as bamboo or banana to supplement their incomes and for other uses as well, can greatly reduce the vulnerabilities of flood plain communities.
For information about urban vulnerability, please refer to “Urban Flood Risk Assessment”, Section 2.2.2.