Original Research

A system dynamics approach for understanding community resilience to disaster risk

Onyekachi J. Onyeagoziri, Corrinne Shaw, Tom Ryan
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 13, No 1 | a1037 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v13i1.1037 | © 2021 Onyekachi J. Onyeagoziri, Corrinne Shaw, Tom Ryan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 August 2020 | Published: 14 June 2021

About the author(s)

Onyekachi J. Onyeagoziri, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Corrinne Shaw, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Tom Ryan, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

The Western Cape is a dynamic province that is disaster-prone, particularly the vulnerable urban communities in and around its environs. Such communities are more vulnerable to wildfire, flooding, pandemic, natural and human-made hazards because of poverty and, consequently, poor living conditions such as overcrowding and non-understanding of community resilience. The inability of these communities to understand community resilience and withstand adversities affects the sustainability of initiatives to develop them. This study aims to identify the mechanisms influencing the level of understanding of community resilience in a vulnerable community and to contribute to the understanding of community resilience to disaster risk. Fieldwork was conducted in an informal settlement in South Africa. The research study was conducted in two cycles of data collection and analysis. Data in the form of observation notes, document analysis and interviews were analysed using grounded-theory principles. Ten inter-related variables or mechanisms emerged from the analysis. The theoretical model consists of four reinforcing (R) feedback loops (R1, R2, R3 and R4), respectively, which explain how the understanding of community resilience in the informal settlement maps on to the relative achievement systems archetype. Negative reinforcing behaviour would explain the lack of understanding of community resilience, while positive reinforcing behaviour indicates how an understanding of community resilience develops. In addition, the variable with the leverage to improve the mechanisms influencing the understanding of community resilience was found to be the ‘level of public education and awareness’. The theory of how these variables behave in context was represented as a qualitative system dynamics model.

Keywords

disaster risk reduction; community resilience; grounded theory; system dynamics; informal settlements.

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