Participatory Risk Assessment in Informal Settlements

One of the exchange programmes of the Crisis Resilience Academy is with the Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC), University of the Free State, South Africa, in collaboration with the UN University, the Institute for Environment and Human Security. Kees Boersma is lecturer in the Block Course on “Participatory Risk Assessment in Informal Settlements: from vulnerability to resilience”.

The objective of the block course is to prepare graduate students and young professionals to perform a risk assessment which will take place as a practical (fieldwork). The model used in the block course is Risk = hazard X vulnerability/resilience X exposure. The course starts with discussions on hazards to look at social, environmental and economical vulnerability or resilience indicators. The students develop an inclusive assessment method/tool, based on human, social, cultural, political, infrastructure, ecology, economical and institutional capitals. The assumption is that an inclusive disaster risk assessment is needed to ensure conclusive identification and mitigation of impacts. Co-operation, through participatory methods between the different stakeholders and the local community (e.g. through the involvement of informal leaders) is key for an adequate risk assessment. Eventually, community engagement is a precondition for the understanding of risk, monitoring & warning, effective development and implementation of early warning systems, crisis communication and response capacity building.

The purpose of the risk assessment / fieldwork is:
• To conduct an inclusive disaster risk assessment at an informal settlement.
• To share the experience and identify the major hazards, that may need to be addressed by Local Authority.
• To gain practical experience in the field of Disaster Risk Management.