Community Based Vulnerability Assessment for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience: Post Kerala Floods of 2018

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Submission Summary
Between August 1st and 18th, 2018, the small coastal state of Kerala in India, experienced its worst ever floods affecting more than 75% of the total villages spread across its 14 districts and impacting the lives of around 5.4 million people. This humanitarian crisis exposed an array of hidden as well as obvious vulnerabilities of the many coastal communities in the small state. This study, is an attempt to prove that by developing and adapting an approach that understands, quantifies and maps vulnerability, we can help in curbing the adverse effects of disasters. The research is done in context of the 2018 Kerala floods, in a case-study area specific to the coastal region of Ernakulam District. The aim is to develop an approach-based framework for decision makers and physical planners to understand and reduce the vulnerability to disasters; making the existing disaster management process and disaster risk reduction measures much more effective. The beginning of the research is an attempt to understand and explore the concept of vulnerability while examining the past trends and methods of flood vulnerability assessments, with a primary focus on the parameters/indicators that are used to quantify it. Subsequently, an approach is devised in-order to assess vulnerability and the analysis that follows is tracing this approach in the context of the recent Kerala floods of 2018, along the different levels of jurisdiction in the State; from the State to the Community level. Finally, the study examines the different dimensions of vulnerability and disaster management across state policies and district plans in Kerala to identify gaps. In the context of those findings, an analysis is done of the missing link of socio-economic vulnerability, from District to Local Self Government to Community level (top-down approach), mapping it along the process. Later an identification of the issues and their implications are done through community participation, and the findings are added to the skeleton of the proposed approach to complete a disaster (flood) vulnerability reduction framework and prove its applicability. Initial background research revealed that earlier, disaster management was looked at as a relief centric process, but after the introduction of disaster risk reduction (as part of the SENDAI framework), the concept of vulnerability (to disasters) came into picture. While Kerala’s’ State Disaster Management Policy, states that Disaster Management has to be mainstreamed into development planning, as well as address the vulnerable communities, after reviewing a selection of state development-policies and plans, a concerning lack of adherence to disaster management was found thereof. From on-ground surveys, analysis and mapping, it was found that in the case study district, majority of the villages that are located in high hazard zones of flooding and landslides ae also the ones with high socio-economic vulnerability weightages, they have the higher population densities and heavier coastal dependence. And to make matters worse, these hazard prone villages/areas are not part of the administrations master-plan zones. This is the case in most states of India, the entire context is post-disaster management, there is a slight shift of focus required to look at pre-disaster risk reduction measures to reduce the possible impacts that a natural hazard could have on different sections of the society and systems. Moreover, currently there is a heavy dip in the socio-economic growth pattern that is generally seen after a disaster strikes, with proper risk reduction measures and community involvement in all phases, this huge dip could be mended and reduced over time as well.
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4: Safeguarding the Urban Resilience
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