RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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338 Hazards and Disasters: Learning, Teaching, Communication and Knowledge Exchange (1): Floods
Affiliation Higher Education Research Group
Planning and Environment Research Group
Geo: Geography and Environment
Convenor(s) Martin Haigh (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
Lindsey McEwen (University of the West of England, UK)
Matthieu Kervyn (Flemish Free University, Brussels)
Chair(s) Matthieu Kervyn (Flemish Free University, Brussels)
Timetable Friday 29 August 2014, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Skempton Building, Room 060a
Session abstract Extreme events happen. There is nowhere free from hazard; there will always be disasters to fill the newspaper headlines and much of the analysis will remain shallow. This session accepts that disasters are the co-production of social, political, cultural, psychological, physical, environmental and stochastic processes, and that disaster impacts and responses are affected by equally complex interactions that determine the character of preparedness, management and reaction. It explores more effective means for learning from the experience of disaster, and seeks more effective ways of teaching, comprehending, communicating about, exchanging knowledges, and, finally, managing hazard and risk. This special symposium invites submissions on research tackling the integration of the different geographical components of hazards and risks, especially those factors controlling the spatial variation of disaster impacts, the definition and evaluation of vulnerability; the critical evaluation of hazard maps, the human dimensions of risk and their media portrayal, and approaches to effective communication, learning and teaching about risk and disasters.
Linked Sessions Hazards and Disasters: Learning, Teaching, Communication and Knowledge Exchange (2): Fire, Earthquake and Landslides
Hazards and Disasters: Learning, Teaching, Communication and Knowledge Exchange (3): Risk Perception and Management
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Learning for Resilience to flood risk: Exploring new community-based approaches to co-learning
Lindsey McEwen (University of the West of England, UK)
Paul Cobbing (National Flood Forum, UK)
Grace Martin (National Flood Forum, UK)
Sam Weller (Swindon Borough Council, UK)
Andrew Holmes (University of the West of England, UK)
The UK’s DEFRA Department of Environment, Forestry and Rural Affairs, UK Government) Community Pathfinder project is supporting thirteen Local Government Authorities in projects (of two years duration) to pilot different forms of engagement and co-working to build community resilience to flood risk. This presentation outlines research to date within the Swindon Community Pathfinder (Wiltshire, UK), which focuses on ‘Resilience through Education’. Project partners represent key flood-risk stakeholders such as Swindon Borough Council and the National Flood Forum (a support group for those who have experienced flooding). Disadvantaged individuals and groups can be disproportionately affected by flooding as they are more likely to live in areas of higher flood risk and are less able to respond to the risk because of socio-economic factors such as age, education, health (including disability) and lack of financial resources. Parts of eastern Swindon experienced extreme flooding in July 2007, while others without recent experience remain at risk, particularly from surface water flooding. This project explores different ways of co-working with flood risk groups to build knowledge, skills and disposition for resilience. This involves longitudinal working with ‘flood champions’ (both adults and junior) in tailored activities of training and e-learning co-designed to help develop community capital and risk resilience, and sustainable flood action groups. The paper explores what co-learning for resilience might mean in such community settings.
Exploring the influence of flood risk perceptions on motivations for adopting protective measures
Heather M. Smith (Cranfield University, UK)
Sharon Birkholz (Cranfield University, UK)
Paul Jeffrey (Cranfield University, UK)
The importance of risk perceptions within management of hazards and disasters has received much attention over the decades. The attention this concept has received is due in part to the understanding that the risk perceptions individuals hold stand to directly influence the decisions and actions they take in relation to a perceived risk. Research into risk perceptions, and their relationship to the adoption of protective and/or adaptive measures, has identified many mediating factors. Determining how these factors mediate and influence the preparedness of individuals and communities has been a chief objective of behaviouralist research the world over. Numerous behavioural-intention models and attitude-behavioural theories exist. In one recent example, Grothmann and Reusswig (2006) utilised Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) to assess the pathway between perception of flood risk (threat appraisal), assessment of response options (coping appraisal) and adoption of flood protection measures (preparedness) in the city of Cologne, Germany. This study has adopted a similar approach to explore motivation for flood protection in an area of Hamburg. Findings highlight a nuanced relationship between previous flood experiences, trust in public flood defence measures, and motivation to adopt ‘private’ (or household level) protective measures. The study’s conclusions reflect on lessons for risk communication and community learning to foster improved resilience.
Learning to live with floods – challenges in effective communication of risk, vulnerability and resilience
Alan Werritty (University of Dundee, UK)
At the heart of the Scottish Government’s post 2009 approach to managing flood risk is the challenge of “learning to live with floods”. This involves partnerships across local authorities, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Water, the emergency services, NGOs and local communities at risk. Success in delivering local flood risk management plans by 2015 will depend, in part, on how far these actors have produced true co-ownership of these plans. Key to such co-ownership is effective communication of risk, vulnerability and resilience leading to a shared understanding. Based on a literature review and interviews with key stakeholders in this process, this paper examines how state actors (SEPA and local authorities), use the concepts of risk, vulnerability and resilience, as reported in the social and natural sciences, to underpin flood risk management plans. This is contrasted with ways in which non-state actors (NGOs and communities at risk of being flooded) view risk, vulnerability and resilience and how, from their perspective, flood risk management should best be delivered. The merits and limitations of expert and lay knowledges in understanding flood risk are explored and the challenges this poses in the communication and co-ownership of flood risk management plans commented upon.
emBRACING the Catchment Scale: an Exploration of Community Resilience from Source to Sea
Hugh Deeming (Northumbria University, UK)
Catchment-scale processes have become a focus of water management in recent years, but what are the attributes of a population that resides along the course of a catchment, from source to sea, which might make it resilient to floods? During the Cumbria floods of 2009, impacts were experienced along the length of the Derwent River catchment, from below the Thirlmere reservoir in the Vale of St John and the SSSIs in Borrowdale, right through to the Port of Workington. This paper reports on progress made by the FP7 emBRACE project in its investigation of how the experience of that event influenced social learning within and across multiple social and institutional contexts and how this may have impacted on ‘community’ resilience to future flood hazards. The case-study adopted a sustainable livelihoods approach in order to explore the resource sets utilised by rural and more urban populations to respond to both the initial shock of the flood and then with the ‘negotiations’ (Whittle et al., 2010) required to return to an ‘acceptable level of functioning’. The findings reveal useful insights into the complexities of implementing catchment-scale flood risk management processes, where lessons learned along the river’s course reflect multiple legitimate and yet often conflicting priorities, which all demand proportionate adjudication by those engaged in governance.
Involving children in flood education: The importance of the interactive delivery method
Lindsey McEwen (University of the West of England, UK)
Sara Williams (University of the West of England, UK)
Children are a generally hidden group in research on flood and flood recovery in the UK. As well as considerations of vulnerability, children may also have potential as social agents and catalysts in educating and influencing how families and communities prepare and recover. This involves exploring ways to accommodate children and young people’s voices into building resilience for the future, in order to build adaptive capacity and post flood learning to help deal with the challenges of climate change. Existing work focused on environmental education discusses how young people can catalyse change though intergenerational environmental education. Taking inspiration from this view, an innovative interactive methodology was designed to research children’s knowledge of flooding and to exchange information about the importance of being prepared for emergency events. Children (7-9 years old) in two primary schools at flood risk took part in an interactive session and created a ‘treasure box’ (a flood resistant container) that could be used to store personal items. Both the children and their families were subsequently interviewed to investigate whether information and conversations about flooding had taken place beyond the school environment. This paper shares emerging themes from the analysis, and explores the implications for inter-generational approaches to flood education.