For more information please contact Dr Stewart Barr and Dr Ewan Woodley.

Working Together to Promote Greater Resilience to Flooding

Researchers from Geography at the University of Exeter are working in collaboration with the Climate Outreach Information Network (COIN) and a range of regional stakeholders to help communities become more resilient to natural hazards like flooding.

As recent floods in the South West region have highlighted, the issue of flooding is not without controversy and this project will aim to use innovative techniques from social science research to ‘co-produce’ knowledge about the impacts, causes and management of flood events in a local community. The approach seeks to acknowledge and provide a voice for different types of knowledge about the environment – from scientific models of river catchments and floods levels to peoples’ memories of past flood events and local knowledge about how and when floods occur. In doing so, the research team aims to explore the potential for using such knowledge co-production for enabling communities to derive their own strategies for managing and becoming resilient to flood events. This takes on particular significance given changes in precipitation intensities that are the result of anthropogenic climate change.

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and has been developed in collaboration with Devon County Council who will, as the co-ordinating local authority with responsibility for emergency planning, provide local knowledge and expertise. The project will also include contributions from statutory agencies (Environment Agency and Devon and Somerset Fire Authority).

The year long project will be based on a sustained dialogue within a selected group of key stakeholders in the case study locality, including local residents, statutory agencies and researchers. The group meetings will explore current understandings of flood risk and associated vulnerabilities, the ways in which such vulnerabilities will change in the future and the most effective way of making the community resilient to future flood events. It is anticipated that the group will co-produce a plan for promoting resilience to flooding that will act as a show case for other communities concerned about flooding.

Date: 19 September 2014

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