Weathering the Storm: Community Socio-Economic and Physical Vulnerability Assessment of Informal Settlements to Disasters in Arusha City, Tanzania
Keywords:Assessment, vulnerability, disaster, informal settlements, Tanzania
Urban population growth has demonstrated a synergetic relationship with the growth of informal settlements and vulnerability to disasters in urban areas. This study employed Community Participatory Vulnerability Assessment (CPVA) to analyse vulnerability in informal settlements in Arusha City, Tanzania. The results show that a plethora of factors, including socio-economic and physical realities interact in complex non-linear ways to shape vulnerability to disasters in informal settlements in the city. The study shows that coping strategies of some individuals in informal settlements reinforce their risks to disasters. This is particularly demonstrated by the stones that are positioned on weak roof structures for protection, and which may potentially serve as projectiles in the event of storm. This quick-fix coping strategy, which results from short-sighted narrow conception of human relationship to the natural environment, may appear sustainable in the short-term. However, given the rising uncertainties of the future, it is unlikely to be sustainable. The study concludes that indigenous knowledge holds great potential in community responses to long term considerations regarding environmental hazards. The study also recommends that measures and strategies aimed at reducing disasters should address the whole set of issues leading to poverty and exposure disparities within the community.
Keywords: Assessment; vulnerability, disaster, informal settlements, Tanzania