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Title: Natural disaster risk, vulnerability and resettlement : relocation decisions following the Lake Nyos and Monoum disasters in Cameroon
Author: Bang, Henry N.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 9982
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis examines contemporary challenges within “natural” disaster risk, vulnerability, resettlement and disaster management in Cameroon. Its empirical focus is on the experiences of the Lake Nyos and Lake Monoum gas disasters which occurred in the mid- 1980s, and on the processes that surrounded resettlement and subsequent relocation of affected populations. The underlying aim is to understand the social context of risk and vulnerability, and consider how such knowledge can be integrated in the development planning process of Cameroon. The research adopts the position, now common in the political ecology of hazards, that disasters occur due to the interaction between human and physical factors, and that disaster risk reduction measures should incorporate socioeconomic and socio-cultural problems. The thesis combines evidence from questionnaire surveys, interviews, documents and field observations, in order to produce a detailed understanding of the processes at work. Results are presented in study populations; three that were affected by the gas disasters (the displaced victims of the Lake Nyos disaster presently living in resettlement camps, former displaced victims of the Lake Nyos disaster who have moved back to the disaster zone and the residents in and around Lake Monoum who were not resettled and have not moved from the disaster area) and a set of key stakeholders involved in disaster management in Cameroon. Most disaster research in Cameroon focuses on the technical aspects of natural hazards/disasters. There is conspicuous lack of research or published materials that addresses the social aspects of natural disasters. Research findings show that Cameroon’s disaster management framework has been oriented to address mostly the crisis phase of natural disasters. This view is confirmed by the case study results, which reveal that the management of the Lake Nyos disaster focused on the immediate aftermath of the disaster, without contingency planning for the displaced survivors. Results also reveal that the resettlement of disaster survivors has created social conditions that have led to their relocation back to the disaster zone. Results regarding several risk-related themes strongly indicate that disaster managers in the government sector generally perceive risk from a technical, scientific or physical perspective. Past experience and socio-cultural factors appear to be more responsible for risk perception and attitudes to risk in the disaster affected populations. The relocation of the Lake Nyos disaster survivors back to the disaster area and the nonrelocation of Njindoum residents within the vicinity of Lake Monoum indicate that both lakes are not considered to be a prohibitively serious threat. Analysis of relocation decisions shows that motivations for relocation are caused mainly by social, economic and cultural factors, which arise from resettlement. Based on the research findings, a new disaster model is presented that shows the linkages, influences and interaction between Relocation Decisions and Disaster Management, Risk Perception and Vulnerability.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available