Social involvement makes local communities more proactive in developing risk management strategies
The level of involvement a person has with her community is related to the trust in authorities and experts. In order to investigate perceived risk of floods in people that differed with respect to the level of involvement with communities they belong to, Lara, Sauri, Ribas, and Pavόn (2010) examined perceived risk of citizens and representatives from different municipalities of the Costa Brava area, a coastal region in north-eastern Catalonia. Different techniques for data collection were used depending on the specific group of participants: a) a survey technique was used for affected and non-affected residents in flood-prone areas, b) in-depth interviews with mayors and/or technical experts, and c) focus groups with representatives of the local public in private and civic organizations. Lara and associates (Lara et al., 2010) found that flood risk perception is linked to the level of social involvement in the local community. The lowest level of perceived vulnerability to flooding was found in non-affected residents. Affected residents and mayors and/or technical experts reported comparably high level of perceived vulnerability, although governments' perceptions varied according to political priorities set in each municipality. The highest perceived vulnerability was found in the group of representatives of the local public in private and civic organizations (Lara et al., 2010). Furthermore, social involvement was also related to the risk coping strategies that citizens are ready to participate in if involvement is low, people prefer activities that do not request many individual responsibilities. On the other hand, people whose involvement in the community is high prefer a proactive management activity, which has direct implications for the development of risk management strategies (Lara et al., 2010).
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Hazards: Natural hazards