Communities unite around flood risk and response
Great news. Residents across Greater Manchester and the North West are getting together to talk about flooding. And on their own terms.
In December, flood activists in Lower Broughton called together members of flood-affected communities and flood action groups from Radcliffe, East Salford, Calderdale Valley, and Merseyside for a community exchange event at St Boniface’s Social Club. Community representatives shared photos and video footage and personal testimony of their experiences of the December 2015 flooding and of earlier flood events. They shared stories but also locally-owned strategies for how to respond to flood risk, from community emergency plans and vulnerable people support programmes to engagement with the National Flood Forum, neighbourhood surveys in support of advocacy for improved flood response, and community flood relief funds. More details about the ideas shared on the day and links to further advice and information can be found here https://www.dropbox.com/s/jikdgq1s6wnyocmCommunity Exchange for Flood Affected areas in the North West
Now, the Radcliffe Flood Action Group, are organising a conference to be hosted at Manchester Metropolitan University in August. This will provide an opportunity for flood action groups and concerned citizens from across the Irwell catchment and beyond to share their experiences and best practice, to network, and ultimately to generate a discussion around flood mitigation and adaptation. Further information and booking details will be distributed soon but in the meantime you can contact Paul O’Hare.
Community-led forums matter
There are several multi-agency partnerships around flooding and resilience at local authority level and for the North West, and some excellent initiatives to engage communities in flood preparedness such as the Irwell Valley Sustainable Communities project. There are however, very few, if any, opportunities for residents of affected areas to come together and share experiences and ideas on their own terms. Agendas of public meetings and events are usually set by the organisers and members of flood-affected communities come along as individual residents without any prior opportunity to meet and discuss their concerns or coalesce around their interests, setting forward their own agenda for the questions they would like answers to, or the priorities they would like brought to the fore.
As many of us are aware, and my own https://www.dropbox.com/s Community Resilience to flooding and wider research highlight, the challenge of flooding amidst increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather events in an era of climate change cannot ultimately be resolved at a neighbourhood level (although there is much that local communities can contribute as participants in December’s event demonstrated). Increasingly, those involved in managing flood risk and the research community argue for the need for catchment-wide approaches. This is challenging because it requires public service providers and local authorities to work in cooperation across administrative boundaries. Addressing questions of land and water use management in ways which ‘slow the flow’ also require engagement with significant power imbalances between the interests of flood-affected communities and private companies and landowners. Some issues must also be engaged with at a national level, including the amount of funding invested in flood defences, and inequality in the way those resources are invested across the country.
Such power imbalances make it all the more critical that flood-affected communities find ways to come together and share their experiences and find ways to speak and act collectively: across their catchment, across their region, and at a national level.
Roll on August, and well done Lower Broughton and Radcliffe!
Dr Sophie King is Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield’s Urban Institute and carried out research into community resilience to flooding in 2016 with the support of local residents and The Broughton Trust
World Wetlands Day 2017: Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction
Thursday, 2 February 2017
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February, marking the date in 1971 when the Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar, drawing attention to the importance of wetlands.
The theme for 2017 “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction” is selected to raise awareness and to highlight the vital role of healthy wetlands in reducing the impacts of extreme events such as floods, droughts and cyclones on communities, and in helping to build resilience.
As an important category of wetlands, mangrove forests grow along tropical coastlines and in salt water environments. They are a critical component of marine ecosystems, serving as nursery grounds for many aquatic species, including commercially important fish species. Mangroves also serve as excellent buffer zones between open ocean and coastal lands, reducing the impacts of storms, and keeping coastal erosion under control. Mangrove forests were also shown to have reduced the impact of the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami. These rich ecosystems are threatened mostly by conversion into aquaculture (shrimp farms) and agriculture, urban and resort development and rising sea levels.
The World Heritage Convention is an important instrument for the conservation of these endangered ecosystems. Several World Heritage sites have been inscribed in large part due to their rich mangrove ecosystems. The Sundarbans National Park in India, and the neighbouring Sundarbans in Bangladesh together account for the largest area of protected mangroves in the world.
Healthy natural World Heritage sites as well as healthy wetlands contribute tremendously to disaster risk reduction and poverty reduction, help alleviate food insecurity, combat climate change, and restore and promote the sustainable use of ecosystems.
Many wetlands are recognized simultaneously under several international designations, which demonstrate the multiple values that they provide. In September 2016, the new report by IUCN, prepared in coordination with the secretariats of the Ramsar Convention and UNESCO, “Managing MIDAs – Harmonizing the Management of Multi-Internationally Designated Areas: Ramsar Sites, World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves and UNESCO Global Geoparks” was launched with the aim to support integrated management of these areas.
Explore more at: http://www.worldwetlandsday.org/
Last week in Leicester at the Green Gown Awards for Sustainability Salford University won the Community Category which recognises initiatives which creates significant benefits for local communities. The Wetland project was primarily created as Salford’s 2nd flood basin with the added value of an Environment Wetland.
This Wetland was created through a diverse partnership Environment Agency, Salford City Council, The Broughton Trust, Salford University other local 3rd Sector Organisations.
The whole project will deliver 6 sports pitches and a training pitch. The Wetlands which can be enjoyed all year around as the development created walkways, paths to enable the local community to enjoy the facility.
It is the only Urban Wetland in the North of England it is expected to be open by May 2017.