Contextualizing vulnerability assessment: a support to geo-risk management in central Africa

Abstract

In central Africa, a combination of several types of major geo-hazards threatens the highly populated area centred on the Lake Kivu Basin and the Virunga Volcanic Province. Contributing to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) policies not only go through hazards mechanisms analysis, but also through vulnerability assessment. This paper stresses the methodological choices made to target vulnerability assessment in a context of scarce and unreliable data. We discuss here the various stages we have overcome and the analyses conducted at the local scale, i.e. on targeted urban sites. The cities of Bukavu and Goma (Republic Democratic of Congo) count about 800,000 inhabitants each, and catastrophic events are frequently recorded. As a result of our analysis, grounding vulnerability assessment exclusively on a general definition seems not appropriate. Relevant peculiarities of the studied area should also be taken into account in vulnerability and risk assessment. Our research contributes to increase the relevance of DRR policies for risk-exposed populations. Following, one of our main concerns will be to challenge stakeholders who have to face numerous other issues on a daily basis, such as security, land issue or resources.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Notes

  1. 1.

    D'Ercole and Metzger (2005, 2009) have identified the following parameters of vulnerability: intrinsic vulnerability (i.e. own weakness such as the socio-economic level of a household, the oldness of a building, the materials of a pipe, etc.), the exposure of the element to hazards and its susceptibility to damage, the dependency of the element (e.g. dependence of the water supply pumping stations towards the electrical network), the capacity of control of the element (e.g. communications systems, remote control, qualified personnel), the functioning alternatives and the level of preparation for crisis management (e.g. contingency plan, emergency communication systems). Some of these parameters have also been identified and included in our analysis. Corresponding data regarding our urban studied sites have been collected through semi-structured interviews with key informants and a household survey.

References

  1. Abson DJ, Dougill AJ, Stringer LC (2012) Using principal component analysis for information-rich socio-ecological vulnerability mapping in Southern Africa. Appl Geogr 35:10

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Adger WN (2006) Vulnerability. Glob Environ Chang 16:13

    Google Scholar 

  3. Allard P, Baxter PJ, Halbwachs M, komorowski JC (2002) The January 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo volcano (D. R. Congo) and related hazards: observations and recommendations, Final report of the French–British scientific team: 35

  4. Atun F (2014) Improving social resilience to disasters. A case study of London’s transportation systems. Springer, Milan

    Book  Google Scholar 

  5. Baxter PJ, Ancia A (2002) Human health and vulnerability in the Nyiragongo volcano eruption and humanitarian crisis at Goma Democratic Republic of Congo. Acta Vulcanol 14(1–2):109–114

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bignami C, Bosi V, Costantini L, Cristiani C, Lavigne F, Thierry P (eds) (2012) Handbook for volcanic risk management—prevention, crisis management, resilience [Online] MIAVITA Project—European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, Orleans, France. http://miavita.brgm.fr/Documents/Handbook-VolcRiskMgt-hr.pdf

  7. Birkmann J (ed) (2006) Measuring vulnerability to natural hazards, towards disaster resilient societies. United Nations University Press, Tokyo

    Google Scholar 

  8. Birkmann J, Cardona OD, Carreno ML, Barbat AH, Pelling M, Shneiderbauer S, Kienberger S, Keiler M, Alexander D, Zeil P, Welle T (2013) Framing vulnerability, risk and societal responses: the MOVE framework. Nat Hazards 67:193–211

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Brooks N, Adger WN, Kelly PM (2005) The determinants of vulnerability and adaptive capacity at the national level and the implications for adaptation. Glob Environ Chang 15:12

    Google Scholar 

  10. Casale M, Drimie S, Quinlan T, Ziervogel G (2010) Understanding vulnerability in southern Africa: comparative findings using a multiple-stressor approach in South Africa and Malawi. Reg Environ Chang 10(2):12

    Google Scholar 

  11. Cumming GS (2011) Spatial resilience in social–ecological systems. Springer, Dordrecht

    Book  Google Scholar 

  12. Cutter SL (2003) The vulnerability of science and the science of vulnerability. Ann As Am Geogr 93(1):13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Cutter SL, Boruff BJ, Shirley WL (2003) Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Soc Sci Q 84(2):242–261

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Dauphiné A, Provitolo D (2013) Risques et catastrophes: Observer, spatialiser, comprendre, gérer, 2nd edn. Armand Colin, Paris

  15. D’Ercole R, Metzger P (2005) Repenser le concept de risque pour une gestion préventive du territoire. Pangea 43/44:19–36

  16. D’Ercole R, Metzger P (2009) La vulnérabilité territoriale : une nouvelle approche des risques en milieu urbain. Cybergeo Vulnérabilités urbaines au Sud (447)

  17. D’Ercole R, Pigeon P (1999) L’expertise internationale des risques dits naturels. Annales de Géographie 108:339–357

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. D’Ercole R, Trujillo M (2003) Amenazas, vulnerabilidad, capacidades y riesgo en el Ecuador. Coopi-IRD-Oxfam, Quito

    Google Scholar 

  19. D’Ercole R, Hardy S, Metzger P, Robert J, Glusky P (2012) Les dimensions spatiales et territoriales de la gestion de crise à Lima. VertigO-la revue électronique en sciences de l’environnement. doi:10.4000/vertigo.12009

  20. Dollfus O, D’Ercole R (1996) Les mémoires des catastrophes au service de la prévision et de la prévention des risques naturels. In: Bailly A (ed) Risques naturels, risques de sociétés. Economica, Paris, 103 pp

  21. d’Oreye N, Gonzalez P, Shuler A, Oth A, Bagalwa M, Ekström G, Kavotha D, Kervyn F, Lucas C, Lukaya F, Osodundu E, Wauthier C, Fernandez J (2011) Source parameters of the 2008 Bukavu–Cyangugu earthquake estimated from InSAR and teleseismic data. Geophys J Int 184(2):934–948

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Duncan D, Scherer S, Wade-Apicella S (2014) HFA thematic review: research area 2, priority for action 3, Core indicator 1: relevant information is available and accessible at all levels, to all stakeholders. UNISDR, Geneva, p 98

    Google Scholar 

  23. Favalli M, Chirico GD, Papale P, Pareschi MT, Coltelli M, Lucaya N, Boschi E (2006) Computer simulations of lava flow paths in the town of Goma, Nyiragongo volcano, Democratic Republic of Congo. J Geophys Res 111:B06202

    Google Scholar 

  24. Favalli M, Chirico GD, Papale P, Pareschi MT, Coltelli M, Lucaya N, Boschi E (2008) Lava flow hazard at Nyiragongo volcano, D. R. C. Bull Volcanol 71:363–374

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Gallopin GC (2006) Linkages between vulnerability, resilience, and adaptative capacity. Glob Environ Chang 16:11

    Google Scholar 

  26. Glade T, van Elverfeldt K (2006) MultiRISK: An innovative concept to model natural risks. In: Hungr O, Fell R, Couture R, Eberhardt E (eds) Landslide Risk Management. Taylor and Francis Group, London, 776 pp

  27. Gunderson LH, Holling CS (2002) Panarchy. Understanding transformations in human and natural systems. Inland Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  28. Hahn H, JC Villagran De Leon (2003) Indicators and other disaster risk management instruments for communities and local governments. Eschborn, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ): 34

  29. Hahn MB, Riederer AM, Foster SO (2009) The livelihood vulnerability index: a pragmatic approach to assessing risks from climate variability and change—a case study in Mozambique. Glob Environ Chang 19:74–88

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Keyobs Adrass ULB (2011) POPSATER: population estimation by remote sensing—final report. Bruxelles, Keyobs Adrass ULB: 154

  31. Kienberger S (2012) Spatial modelling of social and economic vulnerability to floods at the district level in Bu´ zi, Mozambique. Nat Hazards 64:20

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Komorowski JC, Tedesco D, Kasereka M, Allard P, Papale P, Vaselli O, Durieux J, Baxter P, Halbwachs M, Akumbe M, Baluku B, Briole P, Ciraba M, Dupin JC, Etoy O, Garcin D, Hamaguchi H, Houlié N, Kavoyha KS, Lemarchand A, Lockwood J, Lukaya N, Mavonga G, de Michele M, Mpore S, Mukambilwa K, Munyololo F, Newhall C, Ruch J, Yalire M, Wafula M (2004) The January 2002 flank eruption of Nyiragongo volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo): chronology, evidence for a tectonic rift trigger, and impact of lava flows on the city of Goma. Acta Vulcanol 14–15:27–62

    Google Scholar 

  33. Kpanake L, Chauvin B, Mullet E (2008) Societal risk perception among African villagers without access to the media. Risk Anal 28(1):193–202

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Lancaster University (2007) Armonia: applied multi risk mapping of natural hazards for impact assessment, Lancaster University

  35. Lei Y, Wang JA, Yue Y, Zhou H, Yin W (2014) Rethinking the relationships of vulnerability, resilience, and adaptation from a disaster risk perspective. Nat Hazards 70:609–627

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Leone F, Lesales T (2009) The interest of cartography for a better perception and management of volcanic risk: from a scientific to social representations. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 186:8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Malcomb DW, Weaver EA, Richmond Krakowka A (2014) Vulnerability modeling for sub-Saharan Africa: an operationalized approach in Malawi. Appl Geogr 48:15

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Michellier C, Lambert A, Lohlé-Tart L, Calcagni A, Kervyn F, Wolff E In prep. Population estimates using remote sensing: example from Central Africa

  39. Moeyersons J, Tréfois P, Lavreau J, Alimasi D, Badriyo I, Matima B, Mundala M, Munganga DO, Nahimana L (2004) A geomorphological assessment of landslide origin at Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Eng Geol 72:73–87

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Morin J (2012) Gestion institutionnelle et réponses des populations face aux crises volcaniques: études de cas à La Réunion et en Grande Comore. Université de La Réunion. Ph.D.

  41. Njome MS, Suh CE, Chuyong G, de Wit MJ (2010) Volcanic risk perception in rural communities along the slopes of mount Cameroon, West-Central Africa. J Afr Earth Sci 58(4):608–622

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Picquout A (2013) Impacts géographiques de l’éruption de 2010 du volcan Merapi, Java, Indonésie. Paris, Université Paris I—Panthéon Sorbonne. Doctorat: 357

  43. Pigeon P (2002) Réflexions sur les notions et les méthodes en géographie des risques dits naturels. Annales de Géographie. doi:10.3406/geo.2002.21624

  44. Pigeon P (2005) Géographie critique des risque. Anthropos, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  45. Pigeon P (2012) Apports de la résilience à la géographie des risques: l’exemple de La Faute-sur-Mer (Vendée, France) VertigO-la revue électronique en sciences de l’environnement. doi:10.4000/vertigo.12031

  46. Renaud FG, Sudmeier-Rieux K, Estrella M (2013) The role of ecosystems in disaster risk reduction. United Nations University Press, Bonn

    Google Scholar 

  47. Robert J, D’Ercole R, Pigeon P, Serrano T (2009) Complejidad, incertidumbre y vulnerabilidad: el riesgo asociado al volcán Cotopaxi en el Valle de Los Chillos (Quito, Ecuador). Bulletin de l’Institut français d’Etudes Andines 38(3):709–733

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Turner BL, Kasperson RE, Matson PA, McCarthy JJ, Corell RW, Christensen L, Eckley N, Kasperson JX, Luers A, Martello ML, Polsky C, Pulsipher A, Schiller A (2003) A framework for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science. PNAS 100(14):8074–8079

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. UNISDR (2009) The development of a public partnership framework and action plan for disaster risk reduction (DRR) in Asia. United Nations, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  50. UNISDR (2013) Information and knowledge management for disaster risk reduction (IKM4DRR) workshop report. United Nations, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  51. van Den Eeckhaut M, Moeyersons J, Nyssen J, Abraha A, Poesen J, Haile M, Deckers J (2009) Spatial patterns of old, deep-seated landslides: a case-study in the northern Ethiopian highlands. Geomorphology 105:14

    Google Scholar 

  52. van Overbeke AC, Bagalwa M, Durieux J, Kavotha D, Kervyn F, Kies A, Lukaya F, Mitangala P, d’Oreye N, Osodundu E, Smets B, Tedesco D, Wauthier C, Yalire MM (2010) Monitoring of volcanic activity in the Goma region N-Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo) and mitigation of related risks by both spaceborne and ground-based techniques: experience of the GORISK project. Cah du Cent Eur de Géodyn et de Séismol 29:89–95

    Google Scholar 

  53. Vogel C, Moser SC, Kasperson RE, Dabelko GD (2007) Linking vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience science to practice: pathways, players and partnerships. Glob Environ Chang 17:15

    Google Scholar 

  54. Wauthier C, Cayol V, Kervyn F, D’Oreye N (2010) Modeling of InSAR displacements related with the January 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo volcano. Active volcanism and Continental Rifting AVCoR-2007. Cahiers du Centre Européen de Géodynamique et de Séismologie, Luxembourg

  55. Weichselgartner J, Pigeon P (2015) The role of knowledge in disaster risk reduction. Int J Disaster Risk Sci 2:107–116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Wisner B, Blaikie P, Cannon T, Davis I (2004) At Risk: Natural hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters. Routledge, London

    Google Scholar 

  57. Yoon DK (2012) Assessment of social vulnerability to natural disasters: a comparative study. Nat Hazards 63:823–843

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Zhou H, Wang JA, Wan J (2010) Resilience to natural hazards: a geographic perspective. Nat Hazards 53:20

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

Special acknowledgments to Théodore Trefon and Benoît Smets from the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) for their critical comments. Thanks also to all the local contributors (scientists and representatives of local institutions and NGOs), as well as to the experts who participated in the Delphi survey. The current research is performed in the framework of GeoRisCA project (Geo-risk in Central Africa) funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy (Research programme Science for a Sustainable Development, project SD/RI/02A).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Caroline Michellier.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Michellier, C., Pigeon, P., Kervyn, F. et al. Contextualizing vulnerability assessment: a support to geo-risk management in central Africa. Nat Hazards 82, 27–42 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-016-2295-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Vulnerability
  • Risk
  • Geo-hazards
  • Central Africa
  • Contextualize
  • Data scarcity