, Volume 94, Issue 1-2, pp 189-209
Date: 27 Mar 2009

Assessing adaptive capacity to tropical cyclones in the East coast of India: a pilot study of public response to cyclone warning information

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Abstract

Ability to respond positively to climate hazards (also called adaptive capacity) first requires a perception of the risk due to that hazard and then formulation, evaluation and implementation of response by the exposed units with the view to reducing impacts. From a policy perspective, facilitating the process of perception of risk (and sometimes formulation, evaluation and implementation of response) often requires some kind of generation and communication of information for use by the exposed units. For example, the cyclone early warning system is a policy intervention which aims to generate and communicate information to the people about a possible cyclone occurrence, so as to facilitate timely and appropriate response such as evacuating the risk prone areas and/or taking refuge in a cyclone shelter by the people in danger. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many a time the cyclone warning message is not able to generate the desired response from the target audience. An understanding of the factors underlying the process of perception, formulation, evaluation and response by the exposed units to manage cyclone risk is required to close the gap between the desired response and the actual response by the exposed units to the warning information. In this paper we attempt to identify such factors in the Indian context. We conducted an exploratory study on the East coast of India to identify the factors that affect the perceptual and evaluative processes underlying the ‘warning-response’ process i.e. evacuation behavior of the exposed units once they have received the cyclone warning. The findings highlight some important factors that could be addressed to improve the warning-response process and hence enhance the ability of people to respond to cyclone risk.