View the poster - The Bartlett


View the poster - The Bartlett
“We Built This City on Rock and Roll”
Building people´s coping capacities, rocking disaster risk management and
rolling small-scale landslides in the cities of Manizales and Villamaría, Colombia
Julia Wesely, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit
[email protected]
The PhD focuses on risks related to small-scale disasters, such as frequently
occurring, highly localized landslides. Due to their characteristics (immediate
impacts show <10 people killed, <100 affected people and comparatively low
economic losses), these disasters often remain undocumented and unreported in
the media and are neglected by policy makers and academics. However, the
impacts of single events pose severe threats particularly on low-income
households and their cumulative impacts hamper development efforts on the
©Mergili 2011
The project explores people´s responses to single and cumulative small-scale
disasters to create awareness of their contribution to household
vulnerability and current coping strategies. It pushes disaster research that
focuses on the “what, where and how big” to a dynamic understanding of the “why
and to whom”. It aims to situate small-scale disaster responses in between those
of large-scale disasters and every-day environmental risks in cities, thus,
integrating them into urban vulnerability and development and disaster
“Neglect is also manifested by institutional and operational ignorance of
locally available means of protection. The fact that in every disaster,
damage is unevenly distributed, that some survive while others die, that some
buildings collapse when others stand, shows that avoiding harm is possible
- but despite evidence of uneven distributions, policy makers do not
address root causes that underlie stark differential social aspects” (Wisner
and Gaillard 2009).
©La Patria 2012
“If disaster reporting systems for nations or cities move down to include smaller
disasters and broader set of impacts (for instance beyond mortality and
economic losses to include damage or destruction of housing, schools and health
centres), other risk patterns emerge from thousands of frequently occurring smallscale disasters.” (Dodman et al. 2013)
Field work will be conducted in a city with a rich risk discourse and strong engagement
in urban sustainable development in order to draw on the existing experience with a wide
range of response and management strategies. Data gathering will include in-depth
interviews with households that are exposed to and/or have experienced landslides and
other environmental risks, interviews with local decision makers, civil society organizations
and academics that influence the capacities of people to respond to small-scale risks, and
secondary urban risk data. The analysis will look at vulnerabilities, assets and capacities
to cope and natural hazard characteristics involved in the responses to landslides.
Manizales is the capital city of the municipality of Caldas in Colombia, and has
around 370.000 inhabitants and neighbouring Villamaría has 39000 inhabitants. The
cities development is highly interdependent, both socially and economically. Natural
hazards are determined by their location in a mountain range close to the Volcano
Nevado del Ruiz. The expansion of the cities´ settlements has historically been
shaped by the disasters and risks related to the hilly terrain, the humid and
unstable but fertile soil as well as the flows of the rivers. Manizales is widely known
as a flagship city in disaster risk management and urban sustainable development.
©La Patria 2012
´Manizales' key features are “the involvement of the population in each
district in risk mapping and responses; the capacity to bring together all key
local stakeholders, regional and national bodies… the private sector,
universities and representatives of community organizations in a
participative process (...) The disaster risk reduction programme also
includes community preparedness and education, institutional
coordination, research and particular initiatives to reduce vulnerability
and enhance resilience” (Satterthwaite 2011)
©DesInventar 2014
This PhD project is supported by the Economic and Social Science Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council [ES/J500185/1].
Supervisors: Dr. Cassidy Johnson (The Bartlett Development Planning Unit) and Dr. Stephen Edwards (Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction and
Department of Earth Sciences)
Few studies „engage directly with urban poor communities, even though such
groups usually live in the most hazardous areas of a city and are most
vulnerable to adverse weather.” (Stein & Moser, 2014)

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