Community Participation and NGO Responses to the April 2014 Floods in Solomon Islands

Disasters Extreme weather events Floods Solomon Islands
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Floods are the most common form of natural disasters globally, disproportionately impacting lower income countries and in many cases the poorest citizens therein. The increasing frequency and intensity of floods present civil society, policymakers, and development practitioners the challenge of reducing disaster risk, and populations’ vulnerability to extreme weather events. This thesis explores the roles of affected communities in Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) responses to disaster in Solomon Islands, based on the experience of the 2014 flash floods. It investigates the extent to which communities were consulted and participated in NGO responses, and the factors which inform community-NGO relationships. It explores ways that communities interpret and respond to disasters, identifying factors that assist and constrain stakeholders in disaster response and recovery. The research is a qualitative case study, employing interviews, focus groups and document analysis. It is guided by a reflexive discourse analysis and narrative inquiry approach, which places the focus of the study on the experiences of participants. It finds that communities played very limited roles in NGO responses, especially non-dominant or marginalised sectors of society, such as youth, women, and people with disabilities. It indicates that failure to respond appropriately to the differentiated needs of affected populations can exacerbate their risk of experiencing secondary disaster. This thesis argues that there is a need to improve the inclusiveness of responses to disaster, engaging women, youth, and people with disabilities in decision-making in order to respond more appropriately to their needs. Secondly, it identifies that the channelling of funds through Members of Parliament (MPs) in disaster response is undermining the National Disaster Management Office and contributing to increasing dependency and opportunism among affected populations. It also highlights improving policy making and planning as having the potential to improve responses to future disasters.

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