Utilising Participatory Research Techniques For Community-Based Disaster Risk Assessment

August 2013 (VOL. 31, NO. 2)

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Community-based disaster risk assessment yields the best results and most trustworthy primary data in understanding the disaster risk that communities face. Yet, most of the disaster risk assessments undertaken within South Africa exhibit very little evidence of community-based and participatory approaches. Participatory research techniques and capacity development interventions were used in a community-based disaster risk assessment project covering 22 communities in the North-West Province of South Africa. This article describes the methodology developed, as well as the resulting findings of one of these at-risk communities. The robust research approach proved to be reliable, valid, and trustworthy—and, at the same time, ensured direct community participation. A number of participatory research techniques such as transect walks, community workshops, and participatory GIS were employed. The research found that the knowledge in local communities is extremely reliable in the development of their disaster risk profile, and can mostly be unlocked through participatory methods.