Pathways to Action: from risk communication to risk-reducing action (Caribbean)

BGS Research — Global geological risk

The ‘Pathways to Action’ project is a BGS collaboration with the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (SRC) and the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Volcanic dome
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The volcanic dome at the summit of La Soufrière, St Vincent. © Anna Hicks.

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Communicating with communities

Communicating risk effectively to trigger risk-reducing actions is challenging enough when taking any one single hazard into consideration, but in multi-hazard environments such as St Vincent, the number and diversity of spatio-temporal uncertainties makes an analysis of ‘what works’ more complex.

In this project, we aim to characterise both formal (i.e. from NEMO) and informal (i.e. between friends and neighbours) flows of communication within and between communities to better understand what components of the communication, and the landscape they move through, affect sense-making, promote learning and prompt risk-reducing action.

BGS staff interview members of the St Vincent and the Grenadine for the myHAZ app
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Conducting interviews with community members. © Anna Hicks.

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Social media

One aspect of the work is to assess how effective our partnering organisations’ current social media strategies are at providing both natural hazard alerts to communities and enhanced engagement with communities.

Social media is widely used within Caribbean island communities but these factors are unclear:

  • to what extent messages originating from official organisations flow through communities
  • what effect this information has on their natural hazard preparedness
  • how it influences their response during an event, whether that be a storm, flood, landslide or volcanic eruption

Future work

While our initial case study focus has been St Vincent, reflecting our long term collaboration with NEMO and SRC, we hope to extend the study to other Caribbean islands by building new relationships with other local emergency management organisations.

This collaboration is funded by the ‘Global Geological Risk’ Research Platform of the British Geological Survey NC-ODA grant NE/R000069/1: Geoscience for Sustainable Futures.

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