June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Community Engagement Division
The many recent “natural disasters” – perhaps better referred to as “catastrophic events” – in the US and globally raise questions of how to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from such events that are likely to occur more frequently and with greater ferocity as a result of climate change. Although governmental and non-governmental agencies carry special responsibilities to protect the citizenry, because these organizations have limitations, it is clear that individuals and communities need to be prepared to provide for some of their own needs, both immediate and long term. The key question is how best to foster community resilience so that communities are prepared to deal with catastrophic events, both in the immediate sense and as a precursor for sustainable development that will adapt to a changing climate. As residents of a region that recently suffered a catastrophic weather event, the authors (a graduate student, an engineer at a major international development agency (NGO), an undergraduate student leader of a campus engineering society, and two university professors) worked closely with local communities, starting with the distribution emergency aid and transitioning into organized hands-on workshops in which various “simple” or “appropriate” technologies were demonstrated that can serve multiply as emergency means in the immediate days following a crisis, to longer term functionality during the recovery phase when standard services have not been fully restored, and possibly as permanent means for sustainable lifestyles. We argue that resilience is a robust concept that reflects a community’s capacity to adapt to changing conditions in these multiple scales. This project aims to simultaneously inquire about and foster community resilience in our region. Specifically, we pose five questions: 1. To what extent do members of local communities have well-developed concepts of resilience? 2. What can be learned from the community members’ experience, both about their attitudes toward resilience and planning, and the practical means that they developed to address their needs in the wake of catastrophe? 3. What are practical appropriate technologies that can be built and managed within the resources that are typically available in a local community? 4. To what extent will direct participation in designing and building simple technologies lead to their adoption, and ultimately contribute to community resilience? 5. How can these efforts be integrated into the curricular and non-curricular activities of engineering students and faculty? This paper will be a presented as a Work in Progress to report on the activities conducted thus far and to outline future plans. To date, based on needs-assessment conducted by the NGO partner, we have given several “do it yourself workshops” at schools and community centers in remote regions to teach the construction or creation of items such as a foot-pump sink, a non-electric washing machine, wood burning stoves, sand filters, and household cleaning products. At each workshop, participants are also encouraged to share ideas that they developed for themselves. Using grounded theory as the theoretical framework, a questionnaire was designed and distributed to inquire about participants’ experiences and attitudes pre- and post- catastrophe. The researchers will contact the participants periodically or after the occurrence of another interruption of services in order to track usage of various items that were developed in the workshops to measure their efficacy. We will particularly test the hypothesis of whether the participant’s direct involvement in developing an item has an influence in their adoption of it. Although prior research has shown this to be the case in several countries that are commonly labelled as “developing”, it is an open question in our context. Finally, building off of the ways that students and faculty have thus far responded, we explore how to embed this engagement more permanently in curricular and extra-curricular activities.
Ospina-Uribe, N., & Silva Díaz, P. C., & Santiago-Román, A. I., & Papadopoulos, C. (2019, June), Building Effective Community Resilience through Active Participation Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32485
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