The programme includes the IDRC Davos 2016 agenda of sessions, plenary sessions, special panels and workshops. Click on the session title for more details.

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Session 11: Community-Based and Empowerment Initiatives
Monday, 29/Aug/2016:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Emma Lidia CALGARO, University of Sydney
Session Chair: Makarand (Mark) HASTAK, PURDUE UNIVERSITY
Room: Sertig

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Bottom-up Organizing and Empowerment in Post-Disaster Work


Uppsala University Sweden, Center For Natural Disaster Science (CNDS) Sweden, Swedish National Defence University Sweden

The dissertation centers on bottom-up organizing (open inclusion, flexibility, shared leadership) after disasters. It demonstrates various challenges in bottom-up organizing as well as how these challenges shift as relief moves to recovery. Disasters might pave the way for emerging informal organizations which can function as empowering arenas for vulnerable groups. Through ethnographic field studies, the case analyzed here – Occupy Sandy (OS) and their work with immediate relief and long-term recovery after Hurricane Sandy in New York City – brings new light to the issue of whether bottom-up organizing result in vulnerability transformation. OS accommodated 60.000 volunteers in a bottom-up relief network. Everyone who felt they had something to contribute was welcome. Volunteers sought out storm-affected residents who were doing small-scale relief work in their communities, and amplified their efforts by bringing in resources. Residents thereby escaped experiences of victimization and were empowered. But when a grass root organization emerged from the OS network and started to engage in long-term political organizing, open inclusion, shared leadership and flexibility instead created a lack of transparency and accountability, which in turn led to mistrust, conflicts and compromised empowerment. Bottom-up in the relief phase thus seems to be contradictory to bottom-up in the recovery phase.

Community Based Early Warning System for Landslides: The Case of Four Gramaniladhari Divisions of Matale District, Sri Lanka

Menake Ranjith WIJESINGHE

Janathakshan (GTE) Limited, Sri Lanka

Landslides are isolated incidents that would be based on the place factors of a particular landslide threat. For structural mitigation of landslides it is obliged to spend public funds in millions but would not be able to attend to vast number of potential landslide sites. Another option is relocating communities but this too involves complex socio-cultural and policy issues. Such solutions for hundreds of landslide would take many years. With many emerging landslide threats such solutions would not be quick solutions. Therefor landslide early warning together with emergency preparedness becomes vital for securing many lives in vulnerable slopes. Proper early warning and emergency preparedness would generate remedies for socioeconomic problems amalgamated with relocation and structural mitigation.

The paper discuss about a community based early warning system that uses a portable rain gauge amalgamated to emergency response plan. The system was established in 2009 in several pilot communities. Study describes the impact of the early warning system in a background where threatened communities were reluctant to leave their lands due to many social, cultural and economic reasons. The study elaborates the community preparedness for the early warning system and how they have used it during emergencies. Simultaneously it looked at why people were living with risk. There were complex reasons influencing the living with risk in landslide prone areas. Those reasons justify their decisions to remain in vulnerable slopes though they were requested to evacuate from lands with landslide threat. With this background a community based landslide early warning system together with communal planning for risk reduction was identified as an immediate remedial intervention for landslide hazards in mountain districts of Sri Lanka. This was mainly due to community participation, ownership, and simplicity of implementation.

Social Capital and Disaster Resilience: A Canadian Case Study


York University

Disaster preparedness is about measures taken in advance of an event to reduce adverse impacts. On an individual level, it means all personal efforts put in place to safeguard lives and property before, during and after any disaster situation. At a government level, it means the efforts of all tiers of government – federal, provincial, regional and municipal, to prepare the citizens ahead of any form of disaster that may destroy lives and property. This research is an attempt to highlight the role of social construction and vulnerability, social capital, and risk perception among immigrant communities in Ontario, Canada. The research was conducted using a survey questionnaire designed to understand people’s perception of emergencies, hazard risk, their communities, and initiatives on emergency preparedness available to them. Based on the responses received from 100 participants, the common belief was confirmed that people prefer to knock first on their neighbors’ door for help at times of an emergency before going to public shelter or seeking governmental help. It was surprising to note that a small number of the residents were aware of government awareness programs in terms of emergency preparedness. This could be attributed to low levels of education among the surveyed population. Some noted living in the proximity of river, highway, railway line, and industry, and not knowing potential risks. They noted understanding the importance of social network and felt that there is a strong need to address the issue. For those who had personally experienced disaster situation, the perception of safety was found to be different than those who hadn’t. Only 35% said that they vote in their municipal elections, indicating less engagement with the community. The study highlights areas that must be focused on in order to improve resilience and emergency preparedness of communities.

Development of Comunity-Based Tsunami Emergency Response Plan for Penang, Malaysia

Mat Said AINI, Ahmadun FAKHRU'L-RAZI, Abu Bakar ELISTINA, Sulaiman NORHASMAH

Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

The 2004 tsunami was the first tsunami disaster experienced by Malaysia and it was a wake-up call for the nation. Since then, various measures were undertaken by the Government to enhance mitigation, response and preparedness for tsunami disasters. This study is one of those efforts to ensure systematic and coordinated response by all the relevant agencies and the affected community in facing future tsunami events. A multi-strategy research design was used to develop an emergency response plan for two regions in Penang, which was one of the worst affected states by the event. The methods used include modelling of tsunami hazard zones, interfacing activities, visits, training of trainers, workshops, surveys and table top exercise. The participants consisted of representatives of 14 different agencies who are the state disaster management and relief committee, NGOs and local community representatives such as the village heads, hoteliers, and schools. Surveys were conducted among the local population, school children and teachers. Using a community-based approach, a tsunami emergency response plan was developed after being validated for its suitability and practicality during the tabletop exercise. Key findings and challenges are also presented and discussed.

Nuu-chah-nulth Knowledge and Disaster Resilient Indigenous Communities

Emily Kate DICKEN

University of Victoria, Canada

Immediately following a disaster, local communities are at the frontlines for both the initial impact of an event and the lifesaving actions required for response. One way to reduce the impacts of a disaster on a community is to invest in enhancing resilience. As defined in this research, resilience is a communities’ ability to survive, adapt and grow, regardless of the stresses and shocks they experience. Rooted at the community level, disaster resilience is fostered within the home, schools, places of work, the private sector and across all levels of government and for the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations this is no exception. Identified as some of the most physically ‘at-risk’ communities in British Columbia, Canada, the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations see disaster resilience as an imperative undertaking in safe guarding their communities to hazards such as earthquake, tsunami, coastal flooding, and extreme weather events.

When exploring community resilience beyond the Western perspective of ‘the ability of a community to bounce back and carry on in the face of adversity,’ the concept of Indigenous resilience within the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation draws upon additional community resources such as spirituality, teachings from Elders, ceremonial rituals, and oral traditions. In spite of colonial attempts at assimilation and the cultural genocide of residential schools, the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation have been able to hold onto an extraordinary amount of cultural knowledge and are actively engaged in revitalization efforts of language, culture and traditional teachings.

Through an Indigenous worldview, this research explores Nuu-chah-nulth knowledge within the context of what defines a disaster resilient Indigenous community. Using narrative analysis, Nuu-chah-nulth knowledge is explored through the eight interconnected themes of: hunting, gathering, food preservation and storage; oral traditions and histories, environmental connections and cues, healing, health and wellness; spirituality; family and community relationships; traditional governance; and historical resettlement and colonial legacies.

Zoning of Gas Pipeline Environmental Risk Assessment in Various Land Unit, Case Study: Gas pipeline in Lorestan Province in Iran


1PhD student of Environment, Dept of environment and Energy, Islamic Azad university, NIGC company; 2Associat Prof, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of tehran; 3PhD student of Environment, Dept of environment and Energy, Islamic Azad university

Risk assessment is considered a logical method for evaluation of threats and their possible impacts on people, substances, equipment and environment. Oil and gas pipelining projects could have substantial impacts on factors like cultural traits, residential lands, tribes, biological diversity, vegetation coverage, watersheds, wildlife habitats and virgin lands. In this study, different risks were analyzed for each land unit in addition to environmental risk assessment within an area with 200 m radius from the pipeline by use of indexing and GIS method. Three different land units were identified after considering all parameters in this area. Distribution of risks in these units shows more important and higher degree of risk in those units with presence of higher environmental threats. Moderate risk (score 4) could be seen in all three units with third (high risk), second (moderate risk) and first unit (low risk) in descending order considering the vastness of each area. High risk (score 3) could be seen only in first and second units while not been spotted in third unit which means that in risk evaluations and measuring their amounts of threats all units need to be considered at the same time. Low risk (score 8) exists in second and third units while very low risk (score 9) been seen only in second unit. Unit 2 is considered the only unit which includes all 4 types of risk and moderate risk is the only category that could be found in all different land units.

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