This chapter explores the extent to which the most vulnerable victims of natural hazards are, or can be, included in DRR and CCA decision-making and action. Drawing on case studies from the Maldives, Indonesia and India, it highlights the importance of including the most vulnerable, such as the poor in general and youth and women in particular. Obstacles to such participation include power relations within and across social systems, individual capacity levels, and lack of public awareness. Overcoming these challenges involves planning and working for equity within a community, planning for the needs of the most vulnerable at the local level and transferring knowledge from national to local level.
The three case studies used qualitative methods to explore the visions and experiences of community sub-groups that are most vulnerable to climate change and disaster vulnerability. For example:
- The Maldives case study highlighted the multiple and varying perceptions of the impacts of hazard events and of future trends among the most vulnerable people in the community. Significant intra-island differences were revealed, emphasising the need to elicit responses from groups according to such differences as gender, societal functioning and geographical location.
- The Indonesian case study highlighted young people’s experience of flooding, and their active roles in DRR and CCA actions.
- The case study from Orissa, India, highlighted the significant role of women in disaster and climate change risk reduction.
Although the participation of different vulnerable groups was demonstrated as important, the case studies also revealed some of the challenges of achieving participation. These challenges include power relations within and across social systems, individual capacities, and lack of public awareness.
The visions, experiences and capacities of the most vulnerable can provide valuable contributions for DRR and CCA policy and practice. Overcoming participation challenges involves enabling the most vulnerable to voice their perceptions and expertise regarding what is needed and to communicate this with actors from outside the community. Scenario-based iterative knowledge mapping is one tool that could help to achieve this. In addition, it is important to:
- Plan for the needs and requirements of specific vulnerability groups
- Address contextual vulnerability at the local level, rather than using top-down scenario-based impact models
- Increase public awareness about climate change impacts and possible responses, including by transferring relevant available knowledge from national to local level.