About The Resilience Institute

The Resilience Institute is part of WWU Huxley’s College of the Environment. It facilitates scholarship, education, and practice on reducing social and physical vulnerability through sustainable community development, as a way to minimize loss and enhance recovery from disasters in Washington State and its interdependent global communities.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Targeting New Families for DRR

Today I was chatting with a British colleague, Justin Sharpe, about disaster risk reduction public education. He lamented the low level of public awareness about natural hazard risk, but also the lack of public action when that risk is known.

The empirical research shows that natural hazard risks are often perceived as less critical than other more daily hazards. Crime and pollution, for example, have immediate visible signals. Yet, even when people live in relatively high risk areas like California, and even when preventative measures are relatively simple, people put off disaster preparation.

Justin Sharpe pointed out that the research he read suggested that being married and having children leads to greater preventative action. Living in a place of high risk has the opposite effect. It leads to a sort of risk tolerance calibration where people become less likely to take action the longer they live in a place. These trends certainly seem to have been true in Turkey and New Orleans, where I have worked previously.

The question Justin posed to me, and which I now send out as a challenge/suggestion is this:

Why haven't Disaster Risk Reduction practitioners targeted 'new' families through ante and neo-natal groups, for instance, showing how simple adjustments can protect both them and their young family?

1 comment:

Jarrod said...

Fine observations. For those who are interested, read the excellent research undertaken by Kirstin Finnis at the University of Otago, New Zealand.