Disaster risk perception in Cameroon and its implications for the rehabilitation of the Lake Nyos Disaster survivors

Authors: Bang, H. and Miles, L.

Editors: Stal, M., Sigrist, D., Wahlen, S., Portman, J., Glover, J., Bernabe, N., Moy de Vitry, D. and Ammann, W.

Start date: 28 August 2016

Journal: Extended Abstracts Collection. Proceedings of the 6th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC Davos, Davos Switzerland

Pages: 73-76

Publisher: Global Risk Forum

Place of Publication: Davos Switzerland

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Authors: Bang, H. and Miles, L.

Journal: Proceedings of the 6th International Disaster and Risk Conference: Integrative Risk Management - Towards Resilient Cities, IDRC Davos 2016

Pages: 73-76

© 2016 CURRAN-CONFERENCE. All rights reserved. Thirty years ago, the Lake Nyos Disaster (LND) killed 1, 746 people and displaced 4, 430. The affected population, were subsequently resettled into seven camps within the region, and have now grown to around 12,000. This paper analyses their perceptions of contemporary risks to natural hazards in Cameroon following the LND. The main inquiry is to understand how disaster survivors' risk perception (RP) can influence post-disaster rehabilitation and/or resettlement of displaced populations. This is relevant following recent rhetorical statements from the Cameroon Government in early 2016 indicating imminent rehabilitation of LND survivors from the seven camps, and socio-economic reintegration. The research design employed both qualitative and quantitative research methods, including triangulation of the research findings to enhance validation of the analysis. The main RP constructs under investigation were risk preparation, communication and response. Key research findings reveal that conspiracy theories about the cause of the LND continue to abound in the region. As a result, whilst the study population take risk information from non-government sources more seriously, their attitude to government advice on risk falls under four subsets; 'conditional', 'unconditional', 'temporary', and 'disobedience'. Based on our findings, the disaster survivors' RP is likely to have implications for the government rehabilitation program. We conclude there is a need to incorporate the RP of 'at risk' populations into subsequent risk mitigation and/or rehabilitation programs.

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