Livelihoods of rural poor in developing countries like India are exposed to risks due to natural disasters like floods. Although these risks are covariate, households are affected in varying degrees due to their location and their relative capacity to cope with them. These in turn are household-specific and are decisive in defining the efficacy of coping mechanisms adopted by households to hedge against the impact of floods. The paper attempts to study the nature of risks faced by households in a major flood-prone region of rural India and examine the effectiveness of coping mechanisms adopted. Findings suggest that (i) floods significantly reduce the consumption of households, (ii) traditional coping mechanisms used to manage the impacts are ineffective in safeguarding the risks to their livelihood and (iii) designing comprehensive coping measures, targeting vulnerable groups and combining informal insurance with safety nets will be useful.

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