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About this book

This book presents a case study-based analysis of the consequences of external interventions, critically evaluating them from community perspectives. Communities – from rural to urban, and around the world – that are experiencing disasters and changes in climatic variables can perceive the associated risks and evaluate the impacts of interventions. Accordingly, community perspectives, including their perceptions, concerns, awareness, realizations, reactions and expectations, represent a valuable resource. The case-based analysis of impacts on communities can provide a ‘means of learning’ from the experiences of others, thus expanding professionals’ knowledge base, especially regarding disaster mitigation and climate change adaptation practices in varied settings. This book offers valuable insights and lessons learned, in an effort to promote and guide innovative changes in the current planning, management and governance of human settlements, helping them face the future challenges of a changing environment.

Table of Contents


Enhancing Community Resilience


External Interventions for Enhancing Community Resilience: An Overview of Planning Paradigms

In any disaster context development may appear as adaptation through adopting mitigation measures for enhancing community resilience. Though the popular discourse of development always includes economic growth, in the context of resilience, this ‘development’ merges with the process of adaptation. But the planning process of conducting this ‘development’ as well as ‘adaptation’ requires more concerns while the process is intervened by external bodies, like governmental, non-governmental and donor organizations. This chapter provides an overview of planning paradigms for enhancing community resilience in a given political and ecological context, based on existing literature. The ‘adaptation’ and ‘resilience’ literature primarily express concerns for enhancing resilience through infrastructure-based engineered solutions and alterations of natural surroundings mostly in the top-down manner. The involvements of externals as well as professionals usually follow the rational planning paradigm that asks experts to select the ‘best’ solution, identifying and defining the problem, fixing goals and objectives, preparing lists of all possible options to solve the problem, evaluating possible consequences of every option. For ensuring the involvement of local communities, the professional-oriented top-down rational planning approach can be replaced by its opposite: bottom-up planning approach which is time consuming, expensive and simple rhetoric and quite impossible to apply in cases where external bodies are involved for development. The post positivist planning paradigm may support the ideas of active and incremental participation of community members within the structure of rational top-down approach through the lens of political ecology which has been developed as an interdisciplinary approach to investigate complex human environment interactions, especially those related to economic development of the third world.
Imon Chowdhooree

Lessons Learned from Interventions of External Organizations in Disaster Management: A Case Study of Floods in Kalutara, Sri Lanka

In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Sri Lanka witnessed extreme rains that triggered flooding in many districts. The number of victims of 2018 flood was around 150,000 which shows a significant decrease compared to the events of 2016 and 2017 where the affected population were 340,000 and 700,000 respectively. Several external organizations provided their supports via funding, relief and rehabilitation mechanisms during these consecutive disasters. It needs to evaluate current Disaster Management Mechanisms, practiced in Sri Lanka, to investigate the involvement of external organizations, as well as how well these organizations perform within the existing mechanism. This research conducted a survey in Kalutara, a flood-prone area in the Western province of Sri Lanka. Further, it explored the behaviour of local communities, using Hofstede insights, humanitarian involvement in disaster management framework, involvement of external organizations, and then evaluated the effectiveness of external organizations' involvements in different disaster management stages. This chapter finds that Sri Lanka does well in the emergency response stage within the disaster management process, due to the involvement of external organizations, even though their scopes of getting involved at the decision-making level is not significant.
W. K. D. Rathnayake, Chandana Siriwardana

Dependency on External Supports: An Addition to Community Vulnerability

In developing countries Non-governmental organizations (NGO) often get involved in development activities and provide supports for diminishing vulnerability through improving community capacities. Considering the context of involvement of NGOs, this research through studying two settlements in the Haor region of Bangladesh investigates the community resilience status, more specifically their current expectations from NGOs. Findings indicate that NGOs’ usual projects focus mainly on enhancing food security and eliminating poverty, targeting socio-economic and/or non-structural issues, whereas, communities from flood-prone Haor region prefer to have infrastructure-based development for ensuring permanent protection of their settlement from flood damages. NGOs’ regular projects or programs are small in scale and usually don’t enable communities to act independently now or in the future. Even after receiving external supports for extended periods, communities expect to receive further external supports for further development or improvement which can enhance their flood resilience level. In this way, the ‘incentive-induced development’, as an outcome of organized forms (organizational, technological and financial) of external supports, develops dependency on external supports among these communities. Identifying dependency on external supports is a new addition to community vulnerability. This research contributes to understanding risks and questions the usual practices of providing NGO supports to vulnerable communities.
Imon Chowdhooree, Les Dawes, Mellini Sloan

Sustainable Development Through Post-Disaster Reconstruction: A Unique Example in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, with its extensive coastal communities, was among the most severely impacted countries by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. The widespread devastation and consequent displacement of coastal communities spurred many reconstruction programs. The field of post-disaster reconstruction is characterized by the demand for rapid rebuilding and repair of housing and infrastructure, with a multitude of international and local agencies engaged over the immediate and short term in response to this demand. After a level of recovery has been achieved, most agencies move on elsewhere to address other priorities and rarely engage in strongly supporting the transition from recovery to long-term sustainable development. The post-tsunami reconstruction work in the village of Seenigama of a Sri Lankan local NGO, the Foundation of Goodness (FoG), demonstrates a different paradigm by serving as a vehicle for achieving long-term sustainable development by being embedded within the community. The FoG project underscores the significance, and perhaps necessity, of an integrated community development approach that caters to the various needs of the community, representing a systematic approach where housing infrastructure, services, facilities and livelihoods were all inter-linked. A key lesson is the long-term support, provided to the community by the implementing agency. In this way, in addition to addressing the immediate post-disaster reconstruction needs, FoG was able to cater to community needs that evolved and changed over time. This project was implemented after a huge tsunami disaster in a developing country that was being torn apart in a prolonged civil war, hence it also had it challenges. In the changing context of Sri Lanka with various internal and external pressures, a transformative narrative is likely to emerge in the future.
Iftekhar Ahmed

Traditional Practices, Communities’ Aspirations, and Reconstructed End Products: Analyzing the Post-Sidr Reconstruction in the Coastal Region of Bangladesh

Traditional practices derived from indigenous knowledge often fail to get attention in the process of externally supported interventions in any community. This chapter intends to investigate the reconstruction of houses as an external intervention, conducted after the cyclone Sidr in the coastal area of Bangladesh. The usual response from the Government as well as different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in a post-cyclone scenario is to aid with rebuilding or repairing houses following a ‘built back better’ approach focusing on enhancing resilience and reducing risks. Such a multi-agency intervention usually fails to appreciate the traditional practices and indigenous knowledge of the communities and it possesses the risk of resulting inappropriate settlements degrading coastal landscape and cultural heritage. This chapter aims to analyze cultural elements of the affected coastal settlements in general and evaluates the post-Sidr assisted reconstruction interventions in the backdrop of the age-old culture of constructing houses and settlements. Sharankhola, a sub-district in the south-western coastal region of Bangladeash and one of the most intervened areas after the cyclone Sidr, is selected as the study area of this research. Observations, focus group discussions, and household surveys in the study area were conducted to investigate users’ feedback and consciousness about practicing traditional culture and the outcome of reconstructed products. This chapter reaffirms the fact that traditional wisdom and technologies are rarely considered, putting those at  risks of being degraded and lost.
Shams Mansoor Ghani

Designing Spaces with Victims of Humanitarian Crisis: Action Research on Spaces for Children at Rohingya Camps in Bangladesh

The victims of humanitarian crisis, due to series of constraints, usually need to evacuate from their native places and seek asylums in any safer location. The temporary accommodation of displaced population, identifying as refugee camps provide fragments of ‘bare life’, where children of the victim community rarely get opportunities to have an environment suitable for their physical and mental growth. This chapter studies the camps established in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh for temporarily accommodating Rohingya population who were forced to migrate from Myanmar. The child-friendly spaces developed as Humanitarian Play Labs (HPL)s within the camp areas provided the scope for exploring an interactive and community participatory design process for making the spaces culturally sensitive. The pilot process of current research identified three features which were added to existing HPLs: wall decoration (alpona), fabric-made drop ceiling (shamiyana) and bamboo platforms. It was identified that the playful, creative and engaging environments helped children better to manage their traumatic condition, caused by humanitarian crisis experiences. Moreover, retaining their identity through adding traditional features to HPLs was also identified as a crucial aspect of healing through tailored and creative activities and spaces.
Emerald Upoma Baidya, Farah Mahboob, Fatiha Polin, Imon Chowdhooree

Addressing Urban Risks


Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities: Towards a New Normal

This chapter introduces some of the key issues facing scholars and practitioners of disaster risk reduction (DRR) in urban areas, which are now home to over half of the global population. After a brief introduction, the chapter defines cities as socio-technical systems distinguished not only by their large populations but by containing a diversity and concentration of institutional structures, cultures, and industries. There is much variety among cities as well as within them, with wide ranges on many factors, including size, governance type and quality, and wealth. The next section explores the risks that exist in cities. The authors argue that many of the aspects of risks are the results of human decisions. This includes decisions that increase potential exposure to hazards and people’s vulnerabilities to them, such as land use policies, natural resource management, building regulations, and the provision of social services. The result of such decisions often leaves poor and marginalized people more exposed and more vulnerable to the wide spectrum of hazards that impact cities. These hazards generally fall into three categories: natural hazards (e.g., earthquakes and floods), human-caused yet unintentional hazards (e.g., transportation accidents and industrial accidents), and intentional human-caused hazards (e.g., war and terrorism). But the line between these types are often unclear, as neglect, negligence, corruption, poor planning, and lax enforcement raise questions of human culpability in the production of disasters triggered by seemingly natural hazards. The next section discusses potential solutions for addressing urban risks. The authors warn, however, that the interaction of hazards, vulnerabilities, and capacities in every city is unique, which means that there is no single ‘formula’ for successful urban DRR. With this caveat in mind, the authors raise exciting paths forward for DRR based on complexity approaches, climate change adaptation, governance, technology, and a focus on equity.
Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Jonathan S. Blake, Karishma Patel

Small Changes with Big Impacts: Mitigating Fire Risks Through Small Interventions in Informal Settlements of Dhaka City, Bangladesh

Fire Service and Civil Defense of Bangladesh reported 170 fire incidences in informal settlements of Bangladesh in 2016 (Rabbi , 2018). In fact, this is a recurring incident in the slums over the years, which makes “slum” and “fire” synonymous in Bangladesh. Two devastating fires broke out in the slums of Karail and Saattola in December 2016, which destroyed almost 700 houses. Unfortunately, these types of hazards draw very little attention from both public and private sectors. Although some international and national nongovernmental and private organizations provide post hazard assistances, their interventions are usually limited to the infrastructural level because of unspecified land tenure and low property rights of slum dwellers. This also discourages the engagement of built environment related professionals in mitigating the risks or upgrading the slums through spatial design solutions. Questioning this trend of attitude, as a part of social responsibility, the research team (including a volunteer group of architects, planners, engineers and students from different universities in Bangladesh) conducted a pilot project to support fire affected people of Karail and Saattola slums with the principle of “Build Back Better.” This chapter shares the experiences and insights of this slum reconstruction process after fire hazards. It focuses on providing guidelines for housing reconstruction, and a master plan with improved road network to alleviate risks of the highly dense slum settlements and upgrade the slum environment to make it fire-resilient.
Afroza Ahmed, Sadia Subrina

Rethinking Roles of Local Non-governmental Organizations (LNGO) in Managing Disaster Risks in Historic Neighborhoods: Experiences from the City of Lagos, Nigeria

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are taking up an increasing role in the management of disaster risks within historic neighborhoods; yet, loss of historic sites due to disasters is increasing. Local Non-Governmental Organizations (LNGOs) usually collaborate with international Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) and the government to conduct post-disaster interventions within the ‘affected’ neighborhoods. In this context, the question arises that how LNGOs can contribute to making the neighborhoods around historic sites prepared to face any disaster. This chapter, therefore, examines the participation of LNGOs in addressing disaster risks before, during and after disaster events, especially flooding and coastal storm within historic neighborhoods focusing on Lagos, one of the vulnerable cities in Nigeria and where diverse historic sites are located. A quantitative survey of LNGO staffs and local community leaders was conducted to collect data and information, focusing on disaster risk reduction interventions and community perception towards LNGO interventions. The analysis focused mainly on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the interventions implemented by the LNGOs. The chapter finds that interventions of LNGOs focused primarily on post-disaster responses rather than pre-disaster planning to address the vulnerabilities of the historic sites and neighborhoods to avert the future damages. The preservation of historic sites within the settlement requires community-driven interventions addressing the concerns of the local people. The chapter concludes that LNGOs need to rethink and refocus their roles and interventions in planning and mitigating risks and assisting communities in preparing for disaster events.
Olufemi Samson Adetunji, Oluwatosin Samuel Owolabi, Samson Olaoluwa Faboye

A Complexity Approach for Reducing Disaster Risks for Marginalized Urban Populations: Comparing DRR Interventions Across Four Cities

The extreme poor increasingly reside in cities, often in high-risk settlements such as slums. Unfortunately, the risk in cities is an incredibly complex product, shaped by interactions between groups of people, natural and physical infrastructures, and different institutions. This chapter conceptualizes cities and their risks as a complex adaptive system and examine the methods for risk reduction. To do so, it reviews how the international NGO Concern Worldwide reduces risks for the extreme poor living in four cities: Port au Prince, Haiti; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Nairobi, Kenya; and Freetown, Sierra Leone. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in these cities, this chapter finds that while many commonly used disaster management techniques can be employed for risk reduction, the complex and dynamic nature of urban systems creates unique challenges that must be accounted for. Risk reduction can be enhanced by implementing a multiplicity of interventions spanning scales and perspectives, structured along the lines of preparedness and response to crisis, direct services provision, and enhancing social inclusion. To truly to escape crises, these interventions must address not just the immediate symptoms of risk, but the underlying macro processes creating hazards and vulnerabilities. From these results, the argument is made that a complex system approach that is cognizant of interconnections among hazards, vulnerabilities, and forces of creating risks, is crucial for addressing risks in cities. By introducing this complex system perspective and providing a series of real-world examples of risk reduction in cities, this chapter should be relevant for researchers and policymakers working to understand how risks in an urban context can be managed in better ways.
Aaron Clark-Ginsberg

Adapting with Climate Change Impacts


Adaptation and Development for Mitigating Impacts of Climate Change and Climate Extremes in Urban Areas

Adaptation is essential to reduce increased risks and repetitive disasters from climate change that limit opportunities for development. Thus, ‘adaptation as development’ as an approach perceives development as the basis for, and in some cases synonymous with, adaptation. Different groups of population become vulnerable to the impacts of climate change for being in geographic space—where vulnerable people and places are located; or social place/position—who in those places is the most vulnerable. However, adaptation in the built environment has to consider climate variables that impact on various financial, physical and human capitals. Recognizing diversity within a society along with associated opportunities and challenges helps in recognizing the diverse adaptive capacities of different groups as well as addresses the problematic issues of agency, power-relations and negotiation of inhabiting the built environment in urban areas.
Huraera Jabeen

Local Community Engagement for Adaptation to Future Challenges in the Pilot Flood Detention Area of Thailand

Designating flood detention areas is one of the flood risk management policies that has been implemented in the Lower Yom River Basin of Thailand since 2017. Spatial and temporal components in relation to agriculture and livelihood of people have been adjusted to fit with the policy, including rescheduling water allocation and growing seasons, as well as promoting fishing and additional jobs during the period of seasonal floods. The forcasted flood risk model  and households' perceptions regarding the land use, identified these adjustments as responsible to increase challenges for  managing flood risks. This chapter explores the potential of local community engagement in reducing risks of flooding under the flood detention area policy focusing on social vulnerability. Data was gathered during 2017–2018 including five interviews of the representatives from irrigation and disaster prevention agencies, which are all state organizations, and 11 local community leaders, as well as the questionnaires from 206 households, living in the flood detention area. The results showed that social vulnerability, in this context, is induced by several root causes including unequal power relations in establishing flood risk adaptation strategies, variable ‘monoculture’ policies in economic development with fewer concerns in diversification, as well as lacking future recognition and knowledge for context-based adaptation. Apart from irrigation agencies, which have been leading agencies in flood risk management, households and communities need to be encouraged as active stakeholders in developing stronger collaboration both within communities and across sectors for their own living with the awareness of future changes. Future adaptation strategies that are more suitable to different spatio-temporal and socio-economic contexts of flooded communities in the river basin, need to be introduced. The strategies include flood prevention mechanisms, multi-level knowledge exchange for adaptation, and transformation to alternative job opportunities.
Phaothai Sin-ampol, Tawee Chaipimonplin, Supawadee Songka

Public and Private Sector Interventions in Post-disaster Resettlement: A Case Study of Model Villages in Pakistan

Flooding is the most frequently occurring disaster in the world. In recent decades, climate change has been shown to be linked to a higher frequency of flood occurrences around the world. Every year, flooding displaces millions of people worldwide resulting in escalating vulnerabilities of exposed populations. Pakistan, in particular, is extremely vulnerable to climate change induced floods. It has seen a growing trend of disastrous flooding events in recent decades. The extreme flood event of 2010 (and similar events in the years since) have caused tremendous human and material losses. The construction of ‘model villages’ as a mitigating strategy to flooding has turned out to be an intervention of choice for both public and private sectors for the resettlement of exposed and vulnerable population. This strategy was initiated by the government, and then various non-government organizations (NGOs) followed suit with their own planning and development approaches. More than 200 model villages have been developed in Punjab province since the 2010 flood event. This book chapter revisits the model villages developed in 2011 to evaluate public and private intervention in the aftermath of the flooding and assess their resettlement approaches. For this purpose, four model villages were randomly selected in severely flood-affected districts of Punjab province. Two of the studied model villages were developed by NGOs, while the other two were developed by the provincial government’s disaster management authority. Expert interviews, focus group discussions, authors’ observations, and household surveys were conducted. A total of 145 relocated households were surveyed using structured questionnaires. The analysis shows model villages designed and developed by NGOs were more sustainable and resilient than the resettled communities in provincial government backed projects. It was found that livelihood and skill-development programs based on local markets, community mobilization, training, maintenance and operation of community services, and young and adult literacy programs were the predominant factors which made communities more resilient.
Ali Jamshed, Irfan Ahmad Rana, Usman Maqsood Mirza

Effectiveness of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) Training Programs: Views and Voices from Barisal Division, a Coastal Region in Bangladesh

Barisal division, a coastal region of Bangladesh, is one of the most vulnerable zones in terms of climate-induced disasters, where the children, women, and young people are at high risk. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) training programs for children and youth usually aim to change the way of thinking and action, which can make the future generations or the communities more resilient. Trainings can help to improve skills, knowledge, and capacities to manage any disaster event. Considering this fact, the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research (C3ER) of BRAC University facilitated several capacity building training programs on DRR and CCA, which have been conducted in different districts of Barisal division. Nearly 105 children and youth of 3 districts (Barguna, Bhola, and Barisal) of Barisal division have transformed into Disaster Ambassador and helped to enhance the capacities of their communities to deal with climate-induced disasters. This chapter aims to find out the effectiveness of these training programs to build disaster resilient communities through the active participation of children and young people. It finds that the trained children and youths became able to contribute positively through making decisions and developing work plans which were supported by various organizations.
Sharmin Nahar Nipa, Jarin Tasneem Oyshi, Istiak Ibne Rouf

To ‘Float’ or ‘Not’: Cases of Amphibious Housing and Their Impacts on Vulnerable Communities of Jamaica

Jamaica is ranked twentieth in the 2016 World Risk Report as a country exposed to multiple hazards. Among these, tropical storms, hurricanes and floods hit Jamaica most frequently. Recent studies associate the higher frequency of storms and flooding in Jamaica with impacts of climate change. Four types of flooding affect Jamaica: flash floods, riverine floods, tidal floods and ponding. During flood, common options are either to build walls to keep the water out, build elevated houses or evacuate. None of these is a sustainable permanent solution. Affordable amphibious housing is a proactive solution that enables people to remain in their communities of origin with a safe and healthy living environment during flood events. An amphibious house is one option that sits on the ground for majority of the time, with the capacity to float on the floodwater, and then returning to its exact original position when the flood recedes. After the severe flood of 2009 in Jamaica, CARIBSAVE, a non-governmental organization (NGO), undertook the amphibious housing project in selected local communities of Jamaica so that people do not need to evacuate. Through structured and critical analysis of selected case study communities of Jamaica, this chapter tests a measurement matrix to evaluate impacts of the project on the communities. Preliminary findings show that amphibious housing is effective and considerably less expensive than the other options.
Iftekhar Ahmed
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