Urban Vulnerability Assessment in Flood-Prone Areas in West and East Africa
Vulnerability assessment remains central in discourses on global climatic change and takes a more pertinent meaning considering that natural disasters in developing countries continue to deeply affect human settlements. In recent years, severe weather events affected the social and economic asset of local populations and challenged local institutions to adapt in the face of increasing seasonal events and also unexpected larger disasters.
The research project CLUVA ‘Climate Change and Urban Vulnerability in Africa’ was launched in December 2010 and involves a multidisciplinary team of European and African scientists who investigate the preparedness and adaptive capacities of large African cities. CLUVA is part of a European Seventh Framework Program which aims are to at developing context-centered methods to assess vulnerability and to increase knowledge on managing climate related risks such as floods and sea level rise.
Important features for vulnerability assessment in CLUVA cities are the increasing severity of the physical damages, the shortcoming of social and technical infrastructure, the complexity of land management/market and the limited capacity of local institutions. Understanding vulnerability in this context implies highlighting and interlinking relevant indicators and/or perceptions encompassed in four main dimensions. The social, institutional, physical and attitudinal causes for the production of vulnerability. A combination of tools investigates how households and communities can resist and cope with, as well as recover from floods.
In this paper we present the conceptual approach of our social-science analysis and first empirical research results from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Preliminary findings show that coping capacities are household-centric and encompass short term actions to conserve and consolidate individual assets. These actions occur through local social networks and, communities. Adaptive capacities and the effectiveness of long term recovering interventions are community-centric and involve a web of formal and informal institutions.
KeywordsDebris Flow Adaptive Capacity Vulnerability Assessment Informal Settlement Informal Institution
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