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Moving with Risk: forced displacement and vulnerability to hazards in Colombia

Funded by - Economic and Social Research Council

Principle InvestigatorProfessor Roger Few, School of International Development

Co-Investigators: Dr Teresa Armijos Burneo, School of International Development, UEA; Dr Hazel Marsh, School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies, UEA; Professor Jennifer Barclay, School of Environmental Sciences, UEA

International project partners: Research partners in Colombia are the Universidad de Manizales, the NGO Taller de Vida, the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD), and the Colombian Red Cross

The project focuses on the processes through which people forced from their homes by conflict, can commonly become exposed to heightened risk from environmental hazards in the places where they resettle. Effectively, such people exchange one form of catastrophic risk for another, often with little real choice in the process.

The research centres on four case studies, working with people displaced by conflict in urban and rural settings within the Departments of Cundinamarca, Caldas and Risaralda in Colombia. An innovative combination of qualitative research methods are applied in order both to understand how women and men experience forced displacement and relocation into areas prone to natural hazards in Colombia, and to explore innovative ways through which they could be incorporated into local processes of disaster risk reduction. Participant interviews and life histories are merged with the exploration of creative arts, and through a focus on artistic expression, especially popular music, which plays a special communicative role in Colombia, relations of trust are established, and deeper, richer understandings of the diversity of lived experiences, vulnerabilities, perceptions and responses is facilitated.

Through a subsequent series of workshops in which musical and other forms of artistic expression are promoted, creative arts are used to help displaced people recognise and understand their rights, and develop their own capacities to reduce risk. The workshops involve the active participation of key partners in risk management organisations, who benefit from the opportunity to explore new ways of working with marginalised displaced people and to view them less as victims and beneficiaries, and more as active partners in reducing disaster risk.

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