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An integrative approach to understand vulnerability and resilience post-disaster: The 2015 cyclone Pam in urban Vanuatu as case study

Tony Rey (Department of Geography, University of Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France) (UMR GRED, Montpellier, France)
Loic Le De (School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Frederic Leone (Department of Geography, University of Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France) (UMR GRED, Montpellier, France)
David Gilbert (UMR Espace-Dev, IRD (Research Institute for Development), Montpellier, France)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 5 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop a multidimensional approach for effectively managing natural disasters; this paper has three research objectives. First, it provides an analysis on the hydro-geomorphological effects of the cyclone in the urban context. Second, it proposes an analysis for the vulnerability and resilience recovery of the populations living in urban areas. Third, it specifies the implications for sustainable recovery and longer-term disaster risk reduction.

Design/methodology/approach

A detailed case study of the tropical cyclone Pam was carried out to identify hydro-geomorphologic effects and damages in an urban area and specific problems associated with managing natural disaster in Vanuatu.

Findings

The investigations reveal that living in an urban area increases a population’s exposure to hydrological, weather and sea-related risks. Whereas advice on cyclones seems to work very well, the coastal risks and floods seem to be underestimated with a very high exposure and vulnerability to risk. Pre-existing vulnerabilities were exacerbated after cyclone Pam. However, other communities have been able to reinforce their resilience through local initiatives. The government and outside aid were very quick to react, despite problems of coordination, exchange of information, communication and long-term strategy.

Practical implications

The bottom-up, top-down, local and global approaches, applied on the time scales, should lead to actions that will reinforce the ability of the people of Vanuatu to adapt to high-energy events and to the effects of climate change.

Originality/value

This paper highlights the importance of understanding how the urban communities are vulnerable to natural hazards and of strategies for increasing their resilience.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The research was funded by IRD (research development). A special thanks goes to JP Moatti, President-Director General of IRD, B. Moizo, Director of UMR GRED, L. Cambrezy and G. De Noni and also the team of IRD Centre in New Caledonia. The authors thank the French Ambassador for Vanuatu A. du Boispean and to the Secretariat D. Vaysse. The authors are particularly grateful to French Red Cross in Vanuatu M. Vercoutère, D. Bridier, R. Butal, J. Lamberti for its effective cooperation and assistance and also M. Calandra of CREDO, JC Gaillard of UMR GRED/University of Auckland, D. Becker in Noumea, P. Audin et E. Garaebiti in VMGD, and the inhabitants of Port Vila.

Citation

Rey, T., Le De, L., Leone, F. and Gilbert, D. (2017), "An integrative approach to understand vulnerability and resilience post-disaster: The 2015 cyclone Pam in urban Vanuatu as case study", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 259-275. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-07-2016-0137

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited