Volume 14, Issue 1 - March 2014


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Revista de Gestão Costeira Integrada
Volume 14, Número 1, Março 2014, Páginas 3-13

DOI: 10.5894/rgci418
* Submission: 15 May 2013; Evaluation: 12 June 2013; Reception of revised manuscript: 6 July 2013; Accepted: 29 July 2013; Available on-line: 8 August 2013

Qualitative social vulnerability assessments to natural hazards: examples from coastal Thailand *

Avaliação qualitativa da vulnerabilidade social a riscos naturais: exemplos da zona costeira da Tailândia

Frederick Massmann 1 & Rainer Wehrhahn @, 1

@ - Corresponding author:
1 - Department of Geography, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Germany

Information on the vulnerability to natural hazards on a local level may help decision makers, stakeholders, and others to make better decisions regarding an effective disaster management. Qualitative research methods can reveal such information. This paper reports on the application of focus groups and individual interviews for the assessment of local vulnerabilities in two case studies. The first case study deals with the impact and aftermath of the tsunami 2004 in Southern Thailand and the second one with urban flooding in Bangkok. Empirical research for both examples has been conducted from 2009 to 2012. The results show that a combination of different forms of qualitative interviews can reveal significant information for sustainable risk management. The specific characteristics of qualitative methods, e.g. openness and flexibility, allow for creating a holistic picture of local vulnerabilities. Furthermore, deeper knowledge of individual agency as well as of structural conditions can be generated. It could be shown that income diversification and social networks play a crucial role in reducing vulnerability to tsunami hazards whereas the lack of preparation on all levels in return increases vulnerability. Flood prone communities in Bangkok benefit from strong local organizations that represent their interests and that are active in flood risk management as well as from institutionalized savings and loans. A serious constraint for vulnerability reduction is unclear land tenure since it impedes individual and community efforts.

As informações sobre a vulnerabilidade a riscos naturais ao nível local podem constituir apoio importante para os tomadores de decisão e para as partes interessadas (stakeholders) no sentido em que viabilizam decisões mais eficazes no que se refere à gestão de desastres. Os métodos de pesquisa qualitativos podem fornecer essas informações. Este artigo aborda a vulnerabilidade local através de dois estudos de caso em que foram utilizadas entrevistas individuais e discussões de grupo (focus groups) como forma de avaliar a aludida vulnerabilidade. O primeiro estudo de caso incide nos impactes e consequências do tsunami de 2004 no sul da Tailândia. O segundo refere-se às enchentes urbanas em Bangkok. Em ambos os casos utilizaram-se métodos empíricos cujos trabalhos decorreram entre 2009 e 2012. Os resultados obtidos indicam que a combinação de diferentes formas de entrevistas qualitativas pode revelar informações importantes para a gestão de risco sustentável. As características específicas dos métodos qualitativos como, por exemplo, abertura e flexibilidade, permitem a construção de uma panorâmica holística das vulnerabilidades locais. Além disso, podem gerar-se conhecimentos mais aprofundados nas instituições consideradas individualmente, bem como nas próprias condições estruturais. Pode demonstrar-se que a diversificação de renda e as redes sociais desempenham um papel crucial na redução da vulnerabilidade aos riscos do tsunami e que a falta de preparação a todos os níveis, se traduz, pelo contrario, num aumento da vulnerabilidade. Por outro lado, as comunidades de Bangkok beneficiam de organizações locais fortes que representam os seus interesses e que são activas na gestão dos riscos de cheias e inundações, bem como da poupança institucionalizados e empréstimos. Um grave obstáculo para a redução da vulnerabilidade é o sistema menos claro da posse da terra, pois que tal impede que os esforços individuais e das comunidades sejam mais eficazes.


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