Social risks and challenges in post-disaster resettlement: The case of Lake Nyos, Cameroon

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Authors: Bang, H.N. and Few, R.

Journal: Journal of Risk Research

Volume: 15

Issue: 9

Pages: 1141-1157

eISSN: 1466-4461

ISSN: 1366-9877

DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2012.705315

This paper examines contemporary challenges in post-disaster resettlement in Cameroon. The focus is on the ongoing post-disaster experiences of survivors who were resettled in seven camps after the Lake Nyos Disaster in 1986. Empirical data obtained at the Ukpwa Waindo resettlement camp were used for analysis of impoverishment due to relocation and resettlement. Cameroons weak macroeconomic situation that started a quarter century ago had serious consequences for the countrys socio-economic trends, which is partly responsible for the slow recovery of disaster survivors. However, an analysis of social vulnerability using Cerneas Impoverishment Risk and Reconstruction model shows how the involuntary resettlement of disaster survivors has itself created deep seated socio-economic and cultural consequences. By analysing their socio-economic situation, this article shows that resettlement is not merely a housing solution, but a complex, multi-dimensional process, with potentially very high negative impact if not properly planned and implemented. Therefore, the lessons learnt from this resettlement experience can be applied to ensure that resettlement becomes an opportunity to improve resilience and living conditions of the stricken population, and reduce exposure to disaster risk. There is urgent need for the government to tackle these long-term socio-economic problems faced by the disaster survivors, and to develop an effective policy to reconstruct, protect, improve or at least restore the livelihoods of those subject to resettlement. © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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