Resilience or Resistance? Negotiated mitigation of landslide risks

Communities in informal settlements around Medellin or São Paulo live at constant risk of losing their homes to landslide.  Built on steep slopes, with limited infrastructure, a severe rainstorm can cause devastation to these communities.  The research team worked to empower local communities to assess their own risks and take mitigating action to make their homes safer. 

In the first stage of the project, community members used mobile phones to photograph and assess the landslide risks in their settlements, as a basis to negotiate risk management strategies with city authorities.

The team led by Heriot-Watt University included members from the University of Edinburgh and Universidad Nacional de Colombia. They worked closely with community-based stakeholders and with city authorities responsible for disaster risk management. The research approach was ground-breaking, and opened the door to co-working that was more collaborative than confrontational.

A second project, Upscaling Resilience, provided an expansion and internationalisation of the pilot undertaken in Medellín, now including Universidade de São Paulo. This expands on the original concept of Co-production of landslide risk management strategies through development of community-based infrastructure.