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Exploring the ambiguity of community in disaster risk reduction: A case study of Metro Manila

Kim, SJ; (2015) Exploring the ambiguity of community in disaster risk reduction: A case study of Metro Manila. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This study investigates the dialectical relationships between state-centred interventions and community-based actions in reducing disaster risks by focusing on everyday practices of the informal settlers living in ‘danger areas’. Past research has reduced the interactions between state and community by focusing on tensions between the two as top-down/bottom-up or knowledge/action. This research attempts to illustrate community-based disaster risk reduction as a process itself in which multiple and contingent paths emerge. To this aim, adopting Lefebvre’s production of space, this research elaborates on the concept of ‘space of risk’, which is distinguished from the term ‘danger areas’. Specifically, the term ‘danger areas’ is defined exclusively by law and is based on scientific knowledge and policy orientation; however, local communities directly involved in a series of disasters are relatively excluded in the construction of meanings. If an urban area is declared a ‘danger area’, the state has a legal basis to evict informal settlers living in that area. Those who determine a danger area have the power to dictate who has access to urban lands. Hence, in conceptualizing ‘space of risk’ as an analytical tool, this thesis highlights the roles of informal settlers in producing this space and, potentially, reproducing existing social relationships. This framework is used to address whether the state potentially depoliticizes community-based actions, how community involvement in disaster risk reduction can bring changes to the state mode of production, and under which conditions community-based actions can obtain political dimension. Empirical narratives are grounded in the city of Metro Manila, the Philippines. Guided by a qualitative case study methodology, fieldwork was conducted in three sites of low-income communities, facing a range of disaster risks. Whilst the government-led relocation plan increases the vulnerability of people and, as a result, depoliticizes community-based actions, the informal settlers living in ‘danger areas’ self-organize, initiate, and participate in disaster risk reduction activities. However, within a community that is disaggregated are sub-communities that develop and pursue their own agendas; especially, the most active participants of disaster risk reduction who negotiate with the governments for basic services or access to land ownership. Thus, when acknowledging different agendas, aspirations, and needs of each group, community-based actions can regain their political dimension.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Exploring the ambiguity of community in disaster risk reduction: A case study of Metro Manila
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1463874
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