Enhancing Community Resilience to Floods in Iran: The Case of Post-Disaster Neka

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Department of Social Planning, University of Tehran

2 Islamic Azad University, Tehran

3 Research Officer, Natural Disasters Research Institute, Tehran

Abstract

The frequency and impacts of floods have increased in Iran in the past few decades. As flood events are in most instances associated with human activities, mitigating their impacts requires non-structural and community-based initiative alongside structural measures. In this connection, the concept of community resilience has been advanced in recent times, which attaches importance to interactions among the largest group of stakeholders, collective memory and thinking, vertical and horizontal networks of cooperation and coordination, and pluralistic and flexible structures. Focusing on the case of post-flood Neka in the Caspian coast, this article highlights the need for a community resilience approach to addressing disasters in Iran. After describing the resilience concept as well as the Neka flood, results of a set of group interviews conducted with key public-sector stakeholders in the Neka basin several years after the event are analyzed. The main question is to what extent the major flood event in Neka gave impetus to building a resilient community structure. Findings indicate that, due to the major flood event, the knowledge and willingness of both public-sector actors and community members were enhanced, resulting in a resettlement program as well as efforts to prevent flood zone encroachment and sand and gravel mining. Yet, these were only prerequisites for enhancing community resilience which would require coordinated activities initiated by the public sector with short-, medium-, and long-term resilience-enhancing goals and outcomes.

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