Few people living in informal settlements in the Global South spontaneously claim that they are “resilient” or “adapting” to disaster risk or climate change. Surely, they…
Few people living in informal settlements in the Global South spontaneously claim that they are “resilient” or “adapting” to disaster risk or climate change. Surely, they often overcome multiple challenges, including natural hazards exacerbated by climate change. Yet their actions are increasingly examined through the framework of resilience, a notion developed in the North, and increasingly adopted in the South. To what extent eliminate’ do these initiatives correspond to the concepts that scholars and authorities place under the resilience framework?
Three longitudinal case studies in Yumbo, Salgar and San Andrés (Colombia) serve to investigate narratives of disaster risks and responses to them. Methods include narrative analysis from policy and project documents, presentations, five workshops, six focus groups and 24 interviews.
The discourse adopted by most international scholars and local authorities differs greatly from that used by citizens to explain risk and masks the politics involved in disaster reduction and the search for social justice. Besides, narratives of social change, aspirations and social status are increasingly masked in disaster risk explanations. Tensions are also concealed, including those regarding the winners and losers of interventions and the responsibilities for disaster risk reduction.
Our findings confirm previous results that have shown that the resilience framework contributes to “depoliticize” the analysis of risk and serves to mask and dilute the responsibility of political and economic elites in disaster risk creation. But they also show that resilience fails to explain the type of socioeconomic change that is required to reduce vulnerabilities in Latin America.