Increasing resilience to landslides in Quito Metropolitan District. The role of governance, institutional and community capacities in landslide risk management
Cruz Amaluiza, D.
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Cities foster the occurrence of natural hazards which result of socially constructed risks. While natural phenomena cannot be prevented, the impacts can be limited through disaster risk management (DRM) to modify the likelihood of exposure, alter the attributes of exposed unites, and influence coping mechanisms and adaptations to finally influence positively the outcomes of a natural hazard. Determining how to increase the resilience of a community remains a challenge for sustainable development. The hypothesis this research tries to probe is that if certain institutional and community capacities are in place to enhance DRM, then the resilience of communities to landslides is increased. The objective is to determine what governance structure, institutional and community capacities are needed to increase the resilience of a community to landslide disasters in Quito Metropolitan District (QMD), the capital city of Ecuador in South America, where hazards and vulnerability combine to create risk. Through techniques of empirical social research, the governance structure of the landslide risk management system operating in QMD was described. Landslide risk continues to affect the city and limits its risk management system. Economic limitations where found for specific landslide risk identification, as well a low level of information exchange and community awareness rising. Efforts to regulate land use have been extemporaneous and there is a lack of capacity to implement and monitor measures, as well as to offer mechanisms of compliance and regulation enforcement. There is still a gap in multi-stake holder participation and partnerships, and the post-disaster phase does not consider risk factors on the long term. From a case-study analysis at the community level, significant relation was found between landslide risk management and the following community capacities was identified: access to risk management information; public awareness; responsibility and commitment; community participation and involvement in landslide risk management; and coordination among different local actors. Although the landslide risk management performance in Quito Metropolitan District was insufficient to the existing level of risk, it is emerging and can be enhanced. Several recommendations have been proposed and include acknowledging the importance of technical and scientific capacity to develop landslide risk assessments as well as allocation of funds and financial support. The development of a system to exchange information, the integration of the risk thematic into formal education, and the development of community awareness raising and training programs are required in order to increase community awareness. This has to go in hand with the implementation of effective control and monitoring mechanisms for land use regulation and the promotion of alternatives to the poor segments of the society to have access to a place to live. More efforts need to be putted on multi-stakeholder participation, involvement and partnerships among different actors, as well as on recovery mechanisms and social safety nets. The effectiveness of an integrated risk management system depends on the extent to which it engages all level of community, managers and stakeholders; it builds up strong institutional and community capacities; and it mobilizes public and private sector and civil society organizations at different levels to participate actively in the design and implementation of locally relevant disaster risk management strategies.