The UK (UCL), Ghana (UoM), Mauritius (UoM) and USA (UNC) research teams, part of the Belmont Re-Energize DR3 consortium, delivered a session under the Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress in 2022, presenting key findings from our transdisciplinary research approach to disaster risk reduction and resilience. We completed the analysis of multi-hazard risk assessments, multi-scale governance structures, legislation, sectoral practice, tools, and indicators, all informing the development of a toolbox. For validation of the toolbox and one of its elements, which is the balance scorecard therein, we conducted a series of engagement activities in the form of workshops and surveys that counted with more than seventy participants in the global south. Challenges and insights are presented at the SRI for islands (Fiji and Mauritius) and coastal cities we engaged with (Rio de Janeiro, Maceió and Accra). Our aim was to generate a space for sharing and dialogue on important gaps identified in vulnerability discussions considering the below key points:
UCL’s balance scorecard includes several indicators that aims to describe a relation between DR3 and vulnerability. We share the view that vulnerability is inherently context-sensitive and should hence be analysed at different scales to address variations in the drivers of exposure in islands and coastal cities. The key findings for Fiji and Brazil’s coastal cities were shared by UCL, while University of Mauritius and University of Ghana shared the key insights for their respective locations. In Fiji, around 20% of its urban population lives in unplanned settlements that are vulnerable to natural hazards, while 25,700 people are being pushed into poverty due to cyclones and floods each year. This number is projected to reach 32,400 people per year by 2050. Those participating of the workshop, consider the elderly community to be mostly left behind under current governance arrangements, while many problems of inaccessibility of the infrastructure and services are faced by persons with disability. A participant with hearing disability explained that information that comes out in form of alerts are not accessible for them, which results in higher exposure of risks. In Mauritius, the homeless, followed by mobility impaired and mental/cognitive impaired are considered to be left behind. The most important vulnerability domains for pre-emergency governance were ranked by participants in the following order: governance, shock and fragility, living environment/geography, discrimination, barriers to housing and services, risk of crime, health deprivation and disability, employment, and income. For the three coastal cities, the socio-economic disadvantaged are considered to be left behind. For Accra, examples were given of action being taken by the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) to help vulnerable residents of the capital to adapt and build their resilience, including through improved flood risk management and solid waste management.
Across all locations, getting a whole picture of vulnerability is an issue that most places are unable to make advances because of lack of capacity, data and processes that are key to support this understanding. The lack of comprehensive estimation of the budget allocated to disaster risk reduction activities across them does not support tackling vulnerabilities. Vulnerability data is not disaggregated, and many community members are not able to assess and address their own vulnerabilities to hazards. In general, we advocate that indicators need to be customized by region to capture local dimensions and reflect the needs of local vulnerable populations. Capacity building of all concerned institutions was raised as one of the most important elements to improve fragmented approach to vulnerability.