Disaster risk reduction (2)

The afternoon session on Disaster Risk Reduction offered 5 relevant presentations that included issues related to risk communication, preparedness and the need of trans-disciplinary and integrated research (http://www.irdrinternational.org/). With no doubt education is one of the non-structural measures that has to be robustly implemented in the vulnerable communities of the whole world. To this regard, R. Maikhuri shared the experiences derived from the Uttarakhand Disaster, in 2013, on which the role of education for Disaster Mitigation was highlighted. In this context both, informal and formal educational strategies were undertaking aiming at achieving capacity building and awareness. The 2013 disaster associated with the occurrence of landslides and flash-floods had a great impact on society as more than 6000 people are still considered as missing, in addition to 1015 casualties, and extensive damage to agricultural land.

In addition to consider education as a priority, a presentation on the fundamental nature of risk communication for Disaster Risk Reduction in mountain areas was presented by I. Alcántara-Ayala. The study case referred to a landslide disaster that took place in the state of Puebla (Teziutlán) in Mexico, and the main challenge identified included fostering early analysis on risk perception as a baseline for risk communication and preparedness. It was also clear that disasters are an expression of lack of sustainable development, particularly in mountain areas of developing countries, and therefore, sustainability of mountain communities should be built through resilience. DRR requires a central involvement of mountain communities facing both Intensive and Extensive Disaster Risk (for more information on Landslide DRR strategies, please visit: http://icl.iplhq.org/category/home-icl/).

From a complementary perspective, E. Lindquist shared 3 interesting cases to illustrate some of the most relevant aspects related to Mountain region Disaster Risk Reduction at the wildland-urban interface in the US, and their links to decision making. Indeed complex ecosystems and societal systems are involved and competing interests, jurisdictions, and perceptions have to be taken into account. Particular attention was given to multiple, cascading hazards and unintended consequences, and to the science – policy nexus in DRR and mountain research. Key questions were put on the table, which of course are applicable to all mountain areas… Who is responsible for DRR, response and recovery? Is it homeowner or agencies? What are the implications for regional scale governance? Who are the stakeholders?

On the other hand, J. Dzialek presented an interesting evaluation on social vulnerability to floods in Polish mountains. A comparative analysis was presented in terms of areas that represent two historically different regions of Poland which have followed different paths of development. The history of one of them goes back to just after the WW2 and is characterized by retained strong post-immigrant features with looser social ties, in other words, weak bonding social capital, and the collective memory of past floods was disrupted, whereas the settlements of the other gradually evolved over several centuries into established, tightly-knit communities, reflecting strong bonding social capital. The study involved a risk perception analysis from which a series of aspects indicated that universal factors of higher social vulnerability and lower preparedness took place in households with lower educational status and senior only households. Specific factors of higher social vulnerability and lower preparedness were associated with households with lower economic resources and with lower bridging social capital.

Last but not least, a presentation on the sustainability of volcanic risks aiming at capturing the relationship between the communities of Galeras, Colombia and their volcano was offered by J. Glass (on behalf of J. Roberts). The experienced shared was focused on the value of revaluing volcanoes for Sustainable Volcanic Risk Management. The main question addressed was… How can volcanic risk assessments be improved to better capture the drivers of volcanic risk in order to inform more sustainable risk management policies in the future? A comparison of the academic risk assessment methodologies to experience of risk and community decision making at the community level was undertaken. Results indicated that academic risk assessments have commonly measured value as the monetary cost to repair whilst the communities of Galeras identified a range of tangible and intangible gains, benefits and opportunities that living with volcanic risk has provided to them. Moreover, as risk assessments are largely quantitative, the question on how do we include community values such as security, tranquility, community into this type of assessments is considered as the main challenge to be faced.

Two posters also were presented in the corresponding session. They include the “1994 Phojal Nalla disaster- reviewing the process dynamics and impacts of a flood event in the Indian Himalaya” by R. Johnson and “An Early Warning System for lake outburst floods of the Laguna 513, Cordillera Blanca, Peru” by Ch. Huggel.

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