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Rural communities and small cities cannot avoid natural disasters, but their impacts can be reduced by proper planning and having appropriate support systems in place beforehand.
A new study spearheaded by Julie Drolet of Thompson Rivers University will develop recommendations and strategies aimed at helping communities be more resilient to the impacts of wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and other natural disasters — all of which can have long-term and far-reaching economic and social implications.
The three-year study, titled Rebuilding Lives Post-Disaster, will bring together researchers, government departments and community partners from Canada, the United States, Australia, India and Pakistan.
Disasters will be looked at from a 360-degree perspective of before, during and the rebuilding afterward.
By analyzing international case studies, researchers will glean best practices, emerging better practices, innovative solutions and more.
“The challenges we all face due to disasters are enormous,” said Drolet, project founder and associate professor of social work at TRU.
“There is a lot to learn about building community capacity, empowering individuals, creating long-term economic and social change and challenging existing systems of exclusion and discrimination.”
Funding for the $199,938 study comes from the Partnership Development Grant of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Partners who have given commitments of support include the Canadian Association for Social Work Education, Council on Social Work Education, International Association of Schools of Social Work, Canadian Red Cross and partnering non-governmental organizations.
This project is a continuation of Drolet’s research looking at rural communities and small cities and how climate change has affected their social and economic well-being.
“The project is significant because it provides a range of community perspectives on sustainability, equity and livelihoods post-disaster of interest to stakeholders such as emergency service volunteers, emergency managers, educators, social workers, community practitioners, and the social sciences, particularly in the relationship between the social construction of disasters, climate change adaptation and mitigation, the environment, and sustainable development,” said Drolet.