T1.6: Social Implications of Resilience

This session focused on the factors working both in favour and against the ability of a communities to recover, adapt and transform from crises.

Resilience was broadly framed in response to natural disaster (Ryokawa, Gonçalves and Ortiz) and economic shock (Masik). The goal of Resilience was broadly identified as enabling affected communities to both withstand the initial crisis, adapt to changed situations and ideally transform to better cope with future crises. There was a range of different approaches taken to defining Resilience with some papers (Masik and Gonçalves) discussing it from a theoretical starting point, while others (Ryokawa and Ortiz) focussed more on their case study examples as starting points. The key take-away from this session was understanding the situation of communities adequately pre-crisis to better support Social Resilience post-crisis – the actions taken and understanding made before a crisis need to be given as much attention as decisions and policy made after the crisis to truly enable a community to transform. 

Ryokawa discussed the situation of the fishing communities in Ecuador, highlighting their pre-existing dependence on the sea for livelihood, yet post-crisis policy drew them away from these areas with inland construction adversely affecting their ability to withstand the shock of the disaster. Similarly, Ortiz noted the pre-existing vulnerability of communities in Mexico with limited to no government support. While the community came together in self-organised groups, these quickly disbanded following the disaster leaving the community still vulnerable to shock. Gonçalves noted the pre-crisis forested environment of Portuguese rural areas, exposing communities to high levels of risk without corresponding education, while post-crisis efforts fell short at addressing these vulnerabilities and providing transformational solutions. Conversely, Masik highlighted what were important pre-existing factors in enabling Polish communities to withstand the economic crisis, including human, social and institutional capital in place before the crises that allowed for strong Social Resilience to the economic consequences of the Global FInancial Crisis.

Ultimately this session reframed Urban Resilience Implementation in terms of understanding pre-existing social factors critical for the preparation and anticipation of future crises.

Human behavior response to disaster-caused environmental changes: A case of fishermen community, San José de Chamanga, affected by the 2016 Ecuador earthquake
Atsuki Ryokawa

Atsuki Ryokawa began the session presenting human behaviour response to the 2016 Earthquake in Chamanga, Ecuador, focusing on the situation of the fishermen in the community. His used the concept of ‘reactive force’ to frame Resilience as observed in community behaviour to the disaster. The challenge observed in this case study was the government reconstruction policy. This involved relocating much of the fishing community away from the coast, further inland to higher ground deemed safer, yet further away from their previous livelihoods. The ‘reactive force’ observed within the community was twofold. Firstly, the community that were relocated began opening up new businesses in these areas, eventually creating a whole new main street. Secondly, though relocated, some of the fishermen found ways to maintain their livelihoods on the sea through the help of friends and family still living on the coast who were able to store their fishing supplies. 

The main conclusion was that the ‘reactive force’ which led people to shape their own environment was at odds with government post-disaster policies of reconstruction. In essence government policy did not sufficiently take into account people’s livelihoods pre-disaster so the post-disaster response was lacking. Ryokawa concluded that strategies and formal methods should be implemented to better take the situation of the community into consideration.

Social resilience during and after the crisis. The case of Gdańsk-Gdynia-Sopot Metropolitan Area in Poland
Grzegorz Masik

Grzegorz Masik spoke on Social Resilience during and after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis as experienced in  Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Metropolitan Area, Poland. His main contention was the more assets people have in responding to a crises the more resilient they are. These assets can be considered as more than simply material, but also include human, social and institutional capital. Masik began by presenting findings from an analysis of current literature, with focus on Social Resilience. He noted that much attention is paid to assets within a community as forming the basis for Social Resilience. Masik also noted the importance of considering Resilience from an agency perspective, considering the role of government, different stakeholders and key actors in imagining, anticipating and responding to change. Masik then presented findings from interviews with key stakeholder that identified key determinants that enabled the community to withstand the shocks of the crisis with reasonably limited detrimental effects. 

Three areas (assets) were identified as forming the basis for this Resilience. Firstly human capital of a society well able to adapt and be flexible within a changing environment. Secondly, social capital of a consensus among business owners of the importance of maintaining job security for members of society, allowing flexible forms of employment and short term contracts. Thirdly institutional capital of a pre-existing conservative banking policy across Poland and overlapping policies of different institutions that created favourable pre-crisis conditions.

Pro-Resilience Governance and (in)Accessibility to Services of General Interest: evidence from the Portuguese Center region after 2017 wildfires crisis
Carlos Gonçalves, João Marques, Monique Borges, Gonçalo Barros

Carlos Gonçalves spoke on governance and the accessibility of Services of General Interest (SeIG) in response to the 2017 Portuguese Wildfires, with particularly focus on how these services were delivered in rural areas and how they were reported on and perceived by the community. His main contention was that a typology of Resilience that places emphasis on transformation is key to helping vulnerable communities respond to disaster.

The problem Gonçalves addressed was the partial collapse of SeIG’s (such as civil protection, water, electricity, etc) to be adequately delivered for dispersed settlements in the affected rural area in the wake of the 2017 wildfires. Contributing factors included an already elderly and thus vulnerable population, recent and widespread change to the natural landscape (once agricultural land had now been transformed into forested areas) and a lack of education or awareness among the community of the dangers of living in such forested areas. Gonçalves then discussed a theoretical framework from a literature review for proposing a typology for Resilience. Results from this review suggested the importance of moving from recovery (where vulnerability is maintained) to transformation (where vulnerability is minimized). 

Secondly, content analysis of 150 newspaper articles on the disaster were presented. The newspapers made primary mention of the impacts of the disaster with some reference to social impacts. However there was a lack of reporting on actions taken and required for long term transformation. Gonçalves concluded that a typology of Resilience that focuses on transformation and which can be easily translated and understood by the community is needed.

Facing 19th september earthquake in Morelos, Mexico. Eventually effects and organization on the epicenter
Rafael Monroy Ortiz, Rafael Monroy Martínez, Columba Monroy Ortiz, Celia Jiménez, Rodrigo Flores, Cesar González

Rafael Ortiz presented bottom-up community initiated recovery strategies as evidenced in the 2017 Earthquake in Morelos Mexico. His main contention was that local strategies implemented by local actors involved or affected by a disaster can be an effective solution in the absence of government support, but that systemization is needed to sustain this for future disasters. Morelos state, one of the poorest in Mexico also is one of the most prone to earthquakes and hurricanes. In response to a similar earthquake in 1985 exactly 32 years earlier than the one in question, local members of the community volunteered immediately to help victims trapped under the rubble, forming self-organised recovery groups – significantly, without government support.  Thirty-two years on, and again in response to another earthquake, community members went out on their own initiative to help save trapped victims without government support or aid. Ortiz noted in the wake of the disaster many informal organisations of volunteers were formed. However few remained post disaster. 

Ortiz’s study looked particularly at the role of the University Collection Center (UCC) set up in response, noting how both members of the public, students and teachers came together to provide basic provisions for affected communities. Students of architecture even helped design basic shelters for people rebuilding on their own. This all happened without and sometimes despite government interference. Ortiz concluded that while such self-organized approaches were found to be effective, they must be systematized to anticipate of future events.