For thousands of years people have been involved in developing ways to protect themselves against the adverse effect of flooding. For example, China city walls were built to defend it against flooding over 4000 years ago [1
]. Today, most countries of the world suffer some kind of flooding and Nigeria is no different. Since the 1950 from which flooding data has been available for the country, nine of the top ten natural disasters (in terms of cost and people affected) are flooding events [2
]. As Ibem [3
] commented; flooding can easily be tagged as the most extensive and expensive natural disaster in Nigeria. The flooding events of September 2012 go down as the worst in Nigeria’s recorded history, accounting for hundreds of fatalities and millions of displaced persons nationwide [4
]. In Benue state ‘the food basket of the nation’ alone, tens of thousands of people were displaced across 14 communities. With changing climatic conditions, such flooding events are not only likely to reoccur but with impacts and damages that are more devastating. Thus there is need for systems efficiency and perception studies.
According to Few [5
], flooding has the potential to cause social, economic and environmental damage. Thus flooding is capable of disrupting sustainable development initiatives. Flood is a major factor preventing development and improved quality of life for many African poor communities [6
]. In Nigeria, flooding events are influenced by a range of factors including: the overflow of the numerous rivers that transverse the country, unprecedented rainfall amounts and intensity, dam breaks and levee failure, the unavailability and/or insufficient drainage systems and the underutilization of dams in some parts of the country [3
]. In some locations, illegal dumping of refuse along water ways and drainages has influenced flooding events in urban cities [8
Flooding in the LBRB region has been attributed to river and flash flood events leading to river overflow [9
] and rainfall intensity [10
]. With a lot of communities located by the River Benue bank and the region supplying a huge quantity of food consumed in Nigeria, finding long-term solutions to the incessant flooding within the LBRB needs to be systematic and strategic. Several studies have looked at the flooding situation in Nigeria [3
] but studies on flood perception, communication and adjustment in Nigeria have received very little attention and a great deal of insight can be derived from how people react to changes caused by flooding. Perception and attitude of people may reveal the urgency with which the problem needs to be tackled and which sectors are most vulnerable. Again, development of strategic policies and implementation needs to rest on resident’s perception and attitude towards flooding. According to Ologunorisa and Adeyemo [12
], perception studies are essential for responsible planning of flood alleviation schemes and development.
Upon this theoretical foundation, the study explores the perception of impacts on selected sectors/topics - health, housing, agriculture, transportation and water. Based on qualitative data obtained from the administration of questionnaires, evaluations of perceived impact extent on selected sectors were analysed. Such an evaluation will help identify sectors of priority to locals. This is in line with the works of Brooks et al. [13
] and Roberts [14
]. Determining the impacts of importance to a community provides the mechanism for prioritizing adaptation options [14
]. Understanding the effects of environmental change on different sectors is critical for the development of a strategic action plan. The way people react to environmental change is determined to some extent by their level of knowledge and/or quality of information in their possession. As Van Aalst et al. [15
] posited; timely dissemination of environmental change information creates opportunity for risk reduction. To this end, environmental change information communication process between survey participants and relevant government agencies is evaluated. In addition, insurance policy holding as a means of financial adjustment among households is also assessed.