flood management

From theory to practice: building more resilient communities in flood-prone areas

López-Marrero T, Tschakert P (2011). ‘From
theory to practice: building more resilient
communities in flood-prone areas’ Environment
and Urbanization 23 (1): in press.

Abstract: 
Enhancing community resilience is key to reducing vulnerability in the face of natural hazards. In this article we discuss the elements that support or undermine community resilience to floods and propose ways of enhancing it. In the study, participatory methods and techniques were used with community members and emergency managers from a flood-prone municipality of Puerto Rico, including conceptual mapping, participatory mapping, and listing and ranking. The findings suggest that enhancing resilience in these communities requires: support for social learning by building on existing knowledge; stressing the importance of developing a diverse set of flood management options; and promoting effective linkages and collaborations between community members and emergency managers to encourage collective flood management. For this to happen, however, mutual distrust, lack of confidence and other obstacles must be overcome.

An integrative approach to study and promote natural hazards adaptive capacity: a case studyof two flood-prone communities in Puerto Rico

LÓPEZ-MARRERO, T. (2010), An integrative approach to study and promote natural hazards adaptive capacity: a case study of two flood-prone communities in Puerto Rico. The Geographical Journal, 176: 150–163. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2010.00353.x

Abstract: 
capacity to natural hazards of exposed populations. This paper analyses the strategies of adjustment implemented by members of two flood-prone communities in Puerto Rico, and discusses how the adoption of these strategies and other factors could influence future adaptive capacity and vulnerability to floods. Semi-structured interviews with community members from different resource endowment groups were used to elicit the resources behind the process of adjustment along with additional factors that could influence future adaptive capacity, including their perceptions of risks related to floods. The analysis revealed how access to resources – including material, economic and human resources – has facilitated living with floods in these communities; although not everyone has been able to adapt in the same way. Past actions, along with public responses being undertaken in the area (i.e. flood control project and upstream structural modifications) appear to be reducing flood-risk perceptions and promoting a false sense of security among community members, irrespective of resource endowment group. For that reason, developing ways to increase awareness about future flood potential and making clear the need for complementary non-structural strategies is imperative. In short, the research findings emphasise that access to resources and cognitive factors are important determinants of adaptive capacity. Hence, both should be taken into account while developing practical strategies towards increasing adaptive capacity and reducing vulnerability to floods specifically, and to other natural hazards in general.
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