This collection contains the Doctoral and Masters by Research theses produced within the department.

Recent Submissions

  • Flood Risk Assessment and management in the Benue Trough Nigeria

    Alexander, Roy; Miller, Servel; Evans, Martin; France, Derek; Miles, Andrew; Ade, Mercy A. (University of Chester, 2022-05)
    This research was borne out of the reoccurring flood in Nigeria but especially the extreme flooding in 2012 in the Benue Trough which brought into focus regional and national impacts by creating refugee communities and food insecurity. Previous reports within the study area did not consider vulnerability, resilience, community-based risk approach, flood extent and inundation mapping, management strategies, or multiple flood sources nor did they use geospatial methods. This research makes the contribution to knowledge by including these factors and approaches and an historical record for the 2017 flood event, which has previously received little or no attention in published literature or government archives. The multi-dimensional and holistic approach used here has shed more light on prevalent issues that will lead to hyper-local and more efficient management by both government and stakeholders, which can be replicated for other Nigerian states and beyond. The research examines the 2017 flood event in the Makurdi area, evaluating, and mapping the flood extent, perceived causal factors, proximity to water bodies, and flood impacts. It uses mixed methods and DPSIR model, analyzing land use, hydrological and meteorological data, stakeholder interviews and field survey with both residents' and stakeholders. Rapid risk assessment was integrated with geospatial mapping showing spatial distribution of damage and flood depth. Flood extent and inundation data reveal inland flooding and the possibility of varied causes of the flood, while analysis shows decreases in natural forest and, farmland and increases in 'bare ground' and ‘built-up’ areas, possibly related to accelerated rates of population growth and anthropogenic activities. Hydrological and meteorological trends show increased river water levels and discharge, slight increases in rainfall, increases in rainfall intensity, changing monthly peaks, and changes in seasonality, and frequency. Flooding in 2017 occurred south of the river Benue and was not restricted to the floodplain. Although flood depth was greater near to the main channel, damage away from the channel was similar to or, in some cases, more serious than that on the floodplain. Residents’ perceived flood types were surface water, river, groundwater, rainfall, smaller courses, and public sewer with causes mentioned as river overflow, blocked drains, surface water, ground water, rains, and indiscriminate waste disposal. Peak discharge in the 2017 event were directly attributed to rainfall, urbanisation, and increased occupation of flood risk zones. 3700 people were displaced, mainly from inland areas showing high levels of vulnerability using the CBDRI assessment. The research shows that there is a combination of increased vulnerability, lack of preparedness, poor understanding of risk and inadequate government response. Underlying causes of vulnerability are lack of capacity: early warning systems, emergency funds, application of building codes and protective structures; Economic: attitude to disaster and lack of priority for protection, budgets, and accessibility; Social: high poverty and low adult literacy; and Physical: high population growth and limited access to essential services. The 2017 floods provided a local scale test of mitigation plans, which is lacking, and exposed the failure of the current management strategy. Revitalizing of existing and implementation of recommended strategies such as dredging, building embarkments, Sendai framework, risk communication, Blue-green solutions and recovery programs that will rebuild affected communities, individuals and livelihood while building a safe environment in the face of disasters is key.
  • A Critical Review of Rural Proofing in England

    Williams, Fiona; France, Derek; Degg, Martin; Rewhorn, Sonja (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-07-01)
    This thesis critically reviews the effectiveness of rural proofing through a practitioner lens. It explores empirically the experiences and expectations of rural proofing in England by rural policy practitioners. The theoretical foundation for the research is provided by the rural-urban dichotomy and associated discourses, to include the notion of the rural idyll. An interpretivist methodological approach was adopted which included in-depth semi-structured interviews with 24 participants. The participants discussed their understandings of rural within the context of rural proofing and in turn how this influenced their expectations and experiences of rural proofing. Practitioner experiences and expectations considered the influence of rural proofing voices, leadership and accountability in rural proofing and where rural proofing does or should occur. From this, the analytical approach enabled the strengths and weaknesses of rural proofing to be examined to inform the future rural proofing agenda. It was found that rural proofing is a welcomed concept, but there are barriers and challenges impacting on the effectiveness of rural proofing. Overall, it was articulated that rural proofing, although a national policy process to consider the rural context in policy making, is in fact, interpreted as the delivery of rural services. Where the principle was providing equality of provision in comparison to levels of service in urban contexts. There was an appreciation rural proofing is process focussed but a strong sense that it should be more outcome driven, with a local focus. Currently, rural proofing is compulsory for English domestic policy, however, the championing of rural proofing and the leadership of rural proofing across government could be more apparent and the process more effective. It was suggested a greater local focus to rural proofing would assist with mitigating the challenges in the current national English policy framework which has to use a rural-urban settlement classification that does not embrace the diversity of rural England. An alternative approach to describing rural within policy making, could, alleviate some of the challenges in addressing the contested priorities of rural proofing resulting from many rural voices. Through the rural policy practitioner lens it is articulated rural proofing should not be abandoned, however, moving forward, rural proofing requires revision if the principles of rural proofing are to be realised in practice.
  • Rural livelihoods and inequality under trade liberalisation: A case study of southern Vietnam

    Degg, Martin; Boran, Anne; Zhang, Heather; Evans, Martin; Besemer, Kirsten L. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2012-03)
    The purpose of this mixed-methods case study research is to discover how, in relation to trade liberalisation in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, intangible assets affect livelihood outcomes of the ethnic majority Kinh and the ethnic minority Khmer people. Methods used include a random survey of 150 ethnic majority (Kinh) rice farmers combined with focus group data from Khmer ethnic minority people. Data shows that lack of access to information about the changing economic circumstances generated by trade reform has caused farmers to take sub-optimal decisions about the diversification of their crops. The economic outcomes on Khmer farmers have also been negatively affected by a lack of information, compounded by rigid gender roles, lack of education, discrimination, language problems and isolation from the majority ethnic group. These factors have contributed considerably to the negative outcomes of liberalisation, including loss of land, and have impeded people's ability to make use of emerging opportunities, including better access to markets and new ways of making a livelihood. This research shows that intangible assets interact with trade liberalisation to exacerbate existing inequalities.
  • The quaternary evolution of the Rio Alias southeast Spain, with emphasis on sediment provenance

    France, Derek; Maher, Elizabeth (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2005-12)
    This study aims to determine the late-Quaternary evolution of an ephemeral, transverse river system developed in southeast Spain, with particular reference to sediment provenance variation. The Rio Alias drains two inter-montane east-west orientated Neogene sedimentary basins; the Sorbas and Almeria basins. Pliocene to present transpressional tectonics has led to inversion of the sedimentary basins and incision of the developing fluvial system. Fluvial incision has led to the preservation of a suite of alluvial terraces recording the late-Quaternary development of the Rio Alias. Fluvial system inauguration began in the Plio-Pleistocene epoch. The primary fluvial system developed as a consequent river later becoming superimposed and transverse to structure. The drainage basin of the Rio Alias has been sub-divided into 4 sub-basins; The Lucainena, Polopos, Argamason and El Saltador sub-basins. Each basin is structurally controlled. The impact of climate, tectonics, river-capture and eustatic sea-level variation on the fluvial system evolution varies both spatially and temporally across the sub-basins of the Rio Alias. Across the region alluvial aggradation is thought to relate to global glacial periods and incision to interglacial periods. The Lucainena sub-basin is largely controlled by climatic variation related to glacial interglacial cycles with slight modification due to local small scale river-capture and regional epeirogenic uplift. The Polopos sub-basin is also largely controlled by climatic variation, however a major river-capture event c.70ka beheaded the Rio Alias of c.70% of its drainage area. Following the loss of drainage the beheaded Rio Alias system lost stream power, this is reflected in the decrease in size of bedform geometry and the reduced incisional capacity of the fluvial system of the post-capture terrace sequence. In the Argamason sub-basin the Rio Alias crosses the Carboneras Fault Zone, a left-lateral strike slip fault. Late-Quaternary tectonic activity has significantly modified the climatically generated signal. Large tortuous meanders developed in response to normal tectonic activity and continued tectonically driven base-level lowering led to abandonment of terraces and local incision. The El Saltador sub-basin is located at the seaward end of the system and the climate generated phases of aggradation and incision have been greatly complicated by eustatic sea-level variation related to glacial/interglacial cycles. The lowering of base-level due to sea-level regression initially led to pronounced incision along steep gradients and to the development of meander loops in the seaward end of the Rio Alias, during what regionally was a climate driven phase of aggradation. Analysis of the alluvial sediment using a combination of field based clast analysis and laboratory analysis (petrology, SEM, magnetic analysis) allows a detailed picture of sediment provenance variation to be established throughout the evolution of the Rio Alias. Provenance analysis provides information on the timing and extent of river-capture related loss of drainage area, the relative timing of local tectonic activity and also provides new information regarding sediment source area variation throughout the development of the fluvial system. Detailed analysis of the terrace sediments and the modern channel indicates that as the fluvial system incises, local input of sediment from the steepening valley sides grows increasingly dominant. The coupling between the hillslopes and the channel thus changes through time. Sediment provenance analysis has increased our understanding of the long-term fluvial evolution of the Rio Alias, identifying not only sediment provenance variation due to river-capture and changing geology but to fluvial system development.