Preventing and Preparing for Disasters – The Role of a Swedish Local Emergent Citizen Group

November 2015 (VOL. 33, NO. 3)

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Disasters such as the storms that affected Sweden in 2005 and 2007 showed that citizens initially conducted a large part of the disaster response, such as clearing roads, giving psychosocial support to affected neighbours and repairing power lines in collaboration with power companies. As a result of these storms, an Emergent Citizen Group (ECG) was established in a village which continued to work on risk prevention, even after the event. The aim of this paper is to describe and analyse this local emergent citizen group’s continuing work on the prevention of local risk and vulnerability, and particularly, their work on flood prevention. The results indicate that authorities seldom understand the ECG’s concerns about risks. Authorities also lack the experience and capacity to collaborate with, and support, the ECG’s risk and vulnerability reduction work. Bureaucratic barriers and declining motivation among volunteers within the ECGs could undermine commitment to the prevention of risks.