Stefan Leeffers on the effect of information on flood preparedness in urban Mozambique

WIDER Seminar Series

Stefan Leeffers on the effect of information on flood preparedness in urban Mozambique

Stefan Leeffers presents at the WIDER Seminar Series on 25 October 2023.

It will rain: the effect of information on flood preparedness in urban Mozambique


Floods are among the costliest and most recurring natural disasters. Many governments provide disaster preparedness information, but there is limited evidence of the efficacy of such policies. Using a large-scale randomised experiment with 3,000 households across 300 urban communities in Mozambique, I show that providing information on flood risk increased the implementation of suggested mitigation strategies, measured objectively (using a machine learning-based algorithm to detect solid waste, a major flood hazard, in over 25,000 photos) and through self-reported behaviours. I find evidence that increased risk awareness and positive spillovers on non-targeted households contribute to the treatment effects. I do not find differential effects by information medium or the number of targeted families within communities, which implies that even the cheapest mode of information delivery can have large effects. The findings show that information interventions can play an important role in disaster risk management, even when the risks are prevalent.

About the presenter

Stefan Leeffers is a Lecturer in Crises and Disaster Risk Finance at University College London's Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction. As a development economist, he specialises in disaster risk management and governance in low- and middle-income countries. Through his research, he designs and conducts impact evaluations to identify innovative strategies that help reduce the impact of disasters and build resilience. His work has been published in academic journals such as World Development and Economic Development and Cultural Change. Stefan has conducted fieldwork in Mozambique, Angola, and the Dominican Republic. His teaching includes fundamental economic concepts that enable students to evaluate humanitarian action, make informed recommendations, and create effective economic policies in humanitarian contexts. He has experience as a consultant in disaster risk finance and impact evaluation at the World Bank. He holds a PhD in Economics from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is affiliated with NOVAFRICA.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases the latest research on key topics in development economics. It provides a forum for senior and early-career researchers, both in-house and external, to present recent and ongoing work related to UNU-WIDER’s current work programme.

In addition to providing a forum for both academic debate and training, the series presents an opportunity for policy makers and others interested in development to learn about the latest research methods and findings.

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