Perception of Risk for Volcanic Hazard in Indian Ocean: La Réunion Island Case Study
In 2011 a research project on volcanic risk assessment at La Réunion Island (Project Aléa, Institute de Physique du Globe de Paris, France) was conducted in order to determine more efficient strategies to manage future volcanic crises. The project included the evaluation of volcanic scenarios through field and historical data analysis, as well as a survey on volcanic risk perception in resident population. A clear scientific information and an effective communication with public play a crucial role in risk mitigation strategies. Moreover the evaluation of the public perception during both volcanic crises and dormant periods is an important element in developing actions focused on specific social and cultural contexts. For this porpose a questionnaire was developed based on the ones used in similar researches conducted on Italian active volcanoes. Items were designed to measure variables connected with personal perception of hazard and risk, trust in mitigation actions and in information received about these aspects. In addition, specific items related to the peculiarities of La Réunion Island environment were included. A total of 2000 questionnaires were distributed taking into account factors such as the proximity to the volcano and the involvement of communities in recent volcanic emergencies. Main results coming out from this survey, if on the one hand show an adequate residents’ perception of natural hazards, on the other hand highlight their poor knowledge of the island’s active volcano, a similar lacking knowledge of emergency plan for volcanic crises, but also a high confidence in scientists to provide accurate and reliable information on volcanic risk and hazards in contrast with Local Authorities. Remarkable findings of this study assess some key elements that should be considered by the institutions in charge for defining policies aimed at volcanic risk mitigation and management of future volcanic crises.
KeywordsRisk Perception Active Volcano Emergency Plan Civil Protection Volcanic Hazard
This research has been carried out with the financial support of “Direction Régionale de l’Environnement, de l’Aménagement et du Logement de La Réunion” and the collaboration of the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise and Institute de Physique du Globe de Paris in the framework of the Aléa Project. We thank all the school heads, “Principals” for junior high school and “Proviseurs” for high schools, and teachers of science for their invaluable collaboration as well as the “Rectorat de l’académie de La Réunion” for the authorization to access schools. We also thank the responsibles and personnel of all the “Centre Communal d’Action Sociale” and local associations involved in our study. Finally, we wish to thank G. Levieux, A. Finizola, and B. Suski for their fruitful help, collaboration and logistical support before, during and after the distribution/collection stages.
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