Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas (STREVA)

Lead Research Organisation: Overseas Development Inst ODI (Internat)
Department Name: Directorate


STREVA will bring together researchers from universities, research institutes and volcano observatories, to explore methods for reducing the negative consequences of volcanic activity on communities. We will work both with the communities facing volcanic threats, and with those responsible for monitoring, preparing for and responding to those threats. Our main partners are volcano monitoring agencies and observatories in Colombia, the Caribbean and Ecuador, and through them, disaster managers and disaster researchers throughout the region, as well as residents of communities at risk. We will use a number of techniques to build links between the project and the wider community, including workshops, running scenario exercises, and using social media to report our results. Our aim, by working collaboratively across different disciplines, is to develop and apply a risk assessment framework that will generate better plans to reduce the negative consequences of volcanic activity on people and assets.

Volcanic risk is a complex problem, which we shall understand by investigating a number of volcanoes, at-risk communities, emergencies and policy responses across the region. These case studies will help us to identify common issues in volcanic disaster risk and ultimately develop regional risk assessment processes. These will be crucial for long-term planning to reduce exposure to volcanic hazards. The countries in which we will work are all middle income and face multiple volcanic threats, often in close proximity to large towns and cities. The main focus will be on six volcanic sites across the Lesser Antilles, Ecuador and Colombia.

We will begin the project by reviewing the secondary literature on three well monitored and active volcanoes, to analyse what has already been done to understand and reduce risk to the surrounding population. Through in-depth empirical research in these volcanic areas we shall begin to develop, test and apply our new risk assessment framework and methods for application. We will then take these lessons and apply them to three high-risk volcanoes where monitoring and understanding is less advanced.

STREVA's work will generate improvements in:
(i) methods for forecasting the start of eruptions and changes in activity during eruption;
(ii) prediction of areas at-risk (the "footprint") from different volcanic hazards;
(iii) understanding of the factors that make people and their assets more vulnerable to volcanic threats;
(iv) understanding of institutional constraints and capacities and how to improve incentives for risk reduction

By the end of the project, our new knowledge will help us to measure volcanic risk more accurately and monitor how that risk is changing. The practical results will be a strengthening in the capacity of stakeholders at different scales (staff in volcano observatories, local and national governments and NGOs) to produce risk assessments for high-risk volcanoes and use them to improve preparedness and response to volcanic emergencies and build resilience in the surrounding communities through long-term planning. In adopting this approach, STREVA will have real impacts in real places, and will significantly advance the fields of volcanic risk analysis and disaster risk reduction.

Planned Impact

STREVA intends to achieve a set of research aims that will create new knowledge for the improved analysis of volcanic risk. This analysis, focussed around 3 'forensic' and 3 'trial' volcanic settings will help shape the process of integrating volcanic risk management in appropriate policies at local, national and regional level.
This will depend on forging trusted relationships with key stakeholders, having compelling and clearly communicated information on the components and dynamics of risk and developing a solid understanding of the complexity of policy processes. In turn, if implemented well, such policies will help to strengthen the resilience of people and assets exposed to volcanic hazards. Policies may include restricting land use, improving early warning systems, developing new building code guidance, supporting particular approaches to relocation and investing in improved education or new communications protocols during crises. In working towards such an impact, we intend to show by example that interdisciplinary research can be applied in volcanic settings in ways that lead to an increase in community resilience.
Outputs of the research undertaken by STREVA will benefit a number of end users, both immediately and over the longer term. By working with a range of local and regional stakeholders to achieve a better understanding of the components and dynamics of risk in volcanic areas, STREVA aims to improve the policies and practices of businesses, public sector agencies and non-government organisations responsible for reducing disaster risk and building resilience. Those benefitting directly from this research include local governments and other public sector agencies based or working close to the 'trial' volcanoes (such as civil defence authorities), observatories and local elected officials. Although there have been recent signs of unrest, no eruptions have taken place hence local authorities have little experience managing the associated risks. They will be consulted throughout the project and involved in work on forecasting and characterising vulnerability and institutional capacity to deal with different aspects of volcanic risk and will participate in volcanic unrest simulation exercises.
Risk assessments produced by WPs 1-4 can be used immediately by these stakeholders to improve decision making, in particular with regard to evacuations and land-use planning in high risk areas. Information from the 'forensic' studies will be made available to local decision makers at the trial volcanoes to help them understand the interactions between different dimensions of risk. These outputs will continue to be of use over the longer term as risk conditions change, as STREVA will develop innovative methods for incorporating broader understandings of risk into quantitative risk assessments and applying these to dynamic, changing risk situations.
National public sector agencies will also benefit indirectly from this research. National DRR policies are likely to be strengthened from the inclusion of new approaches to volcanic risk analysis and risk communication. Within the private sector, insurance companies will benefit from information produced by the volcanic risk assessments, which may help to support the development of parametric insurance products for inclusion with the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility for example. Other likely beneficiaries include international and local NGOs working on disaster risk reduction at community and policy level, whose projects could be improved by more detailed analysis of exposure, vulnerability, capacity and policy processes in study regions, enabling them to develop enhanced advocacy strategies or community-based disaster risk reduction plans. Ultimately, the most important beneficiaries are people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by volcanic hazards. Their resilience is expected to increase as a result of our work on the trial volcanones.


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Description Local 'informal' disaster risk management systems in volcanic areas that are linked to formal systems (referred to as shadow systems) can be flexible and resilient to long-term volcanic activity and changes in eruptive behaviour, as well as other social and economic changes. These systems allow communities to 'live with risk'. To do so they need to be supported by formal DRM systems: formal institutions need to recognise and work with local preferences and bring about gradual behavioural change by offering people acceptable solutions that reduce exposure.
Exploitation Route These local systems need to be well understood and supported to include knowledge and build capacity. This is something that can be furthered through engagement with governance systems at higher scales. This kind of vertical integration in risk governance systems can be pursued elsewhere and not only for volcanic risk.
'Shadow networks' have facilitated improvements in hazard monitoring, communication, and in evacuation processes based on past experineces, but a step change is required to anticipate and respond better to rapid-onset volcanic activity. Planning in volcanic regions sould not only consider preparedness but also recovery measures that will be required in the event of rapid onset activity and a lager eruption.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description Findings are being used by geological agencies (volcano observatories) in their outreach and communications work with communities; and by risk management authorities in their policy development and capacity building work with local governments in Ecuador, Colombia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. In addition, international and regional risk management agencies (UNDP, IFRC, CDEMA and others ) are using the results from the research in their support to national governments in Latin America and in Small-Island Developing States. The research findings on supporting shadow networks are gaining traction within the DRR community and in particular with governments that are prioritising decentralisation of DRR (but where local authorities lack adequate resources).Impact is demonstrated by: (a) the incorporation of research findings into volcanic (or all hazards) risk reduction strategies at the community and policy level; and (b) improved outcomes as a result of this (improved preparedness and risk knowledge, community empowerment and risk ownership). We have largely realised (a) - see below - and are gathering more evidence for (b) (a) Evidence for integration of our findings into risk reduction strategies: (1) Changes in the way that the risk management agency in Ecuador interacts with communities in the zone where Tungurahua volcano is located, due to enhanced understanding of the role communities play in early warning and evacuations systems. These authorities have a better understanding of why people choose to return to their land close to the volcano and how they manage this risk. (2) Changes in risk reduction strategies via the more explicit involvement of communities at risk in the process of monitoring or characterisation of risk, drawing on our research. IMPACT REALISED In St. Vincent where our findings are being used to frame a new community-based disaster risk reduction project (local), and the use of cultural responses applied across the English-speaking Caribbean (regional). b. Evidence for improved outcomes for communities as a result: (1) Greater community empowerment and risk ownership in Ecuador; improvements to community-based monitoring of the volcano. This research has created strong evidential and analytical bases for understanding how communities respond to and recover to volcanic eruptions and developed and testing the new methodologies that address this challenge. Specifically, we have demonstrated that involving communities at risk in the process of monitoring or responding to eruptive activity produces better outcomes for the reduction of disaster risk (Armijos et al, 2017, Wilkinson et al., in prep). We were the first to emphasise the need to embed volcanic risk within the context of other hazards (Wilkinson et al., 2016). Further papers are being prepared that translate these methods and findings into other natural hazards: Wilkinson et al., in prep and Simonet et at. in prep. The benefits to society in Ecuador, Colombia and St Vincent are related to state-society relationships. By enhancing community involvement in risk management and official recognition of the role of communities, and hence improving risk management policies, our work has in some way helped to build trust and respect in state-society relationships. The cost of volcanic eruptions may be diminished as the early warning systems and evacuations improve and people are supported to move and protect their animals and other possessions. In addition to the above, the STREVA project has promoted important changes in risk management in Colombia. The National Disaster Risk Management Agency, UNGRD, has recognised the importance of developing a resilience strategy for volcanic regions in the country, to take into account the specific challenges and opportunities associated with volcanic and other risks. Thus, STREVA research results have also had an impact in terms of government thinking regarding long-term development planning.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

Description Dominica Ministry of Planning panel
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact I have been a member of two interview panels for the Ministry of Planning in Dominica: to appoint a firm to develop a monitoring and evaluation system for the Public Sector Investment Programme; and for a consultancy to provide training to civil servants on writing proposals to access climate and development finance. This advisory role in linked to my support to CREAD and builds on research assessing structural and land-use planning issues to better manage disaster risks in Dominic and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Description Request from Ministry of Risk Management in Ecuador
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Description GCRF Building Resilience
Amount £199,358 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/P015719/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 08/2017
Description Partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency on historical drivers of risk 
Organisation Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
Country Barbados 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The research team is collaborating with CDEMA in a longer term endeavour to bring historical perspectives and knowledge of risk drivers to disaster risk management discourse and policy today. We provided information to the CDEMA Director, Ronald Jackson, to include in a presentation he made to the UNISDR Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas in March 2017. We are organising a workshop at the Global Platform in May 2017 to bring a wider range of regional stakeholders (from the greater Caribbean and from DRR, climate change, environmental conservation and coastal management communities of practice) together to discuss using historical approaches to improve DRR. Following on from this workshop, members of the STREVA team were successful in a GCRF global engagement networks call and are building on the relationship with CDEMA, to develop a formal mechanism for critically assessing disaster impacts and recovery; and building a network of researchers in the Caribbean, with expertise and publications updated on the CDEMA website with a search function. The aim is to make research more accessible to policymakers and practitioners throughout the region.
Collaborator Contribution CDEMA has played an active role in the partnership, taking part in STREVA meetings and workshops, making presentations and using STREVA research actively in its own work and dialogues. CDEMA has been strongly supportive of further forensic analysis of disaster recovery (based on a methodology developed under STREVA), which has been initiated under the GCRF Caribbean Resilience and Recovery Knowledge Network. A forensic analysis of disasters learning lab has been included by STREVA in the programme of the next Regional Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be held in July 2020, in Montego Bay.
Impact CDEMA presents key results from STREVA research and journal article on 'The Dilemmas of Risk-Sensitive Development on a Small Volcanic Island' at 5th Regional Platform or Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas.
Start Year 2015
Description Research partnership on volcanic risk governance research in Colombia 
Organisation National University of Colombia
Department Sociology
Country Colombia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have provided overall conceptual framework for UNAL to develop research project on investment in high-risk volcanic areas and to develop their relationships with national risk management authorities and the national geological service. These relationships are not always strong - have been fractured in the past - and STREVA is helping to build them up. STREVA researchers are working with UNAL in 2017 to enhance dissemination of research results through series of workshops with risk management authorities at department and municipal levels.
Collaborator Contribution Andrea Lampis in the Sociology department has been working on risk and vulnerability in Colombia for 16 years and offers insight and intellectual inputs into the STREVA research.
Impact This research collaboration does not have any outputs yet.
Start Year 2015
Description Feeding back research findings - Colombia and Ecuador 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The research feedback sessions in 4 communities in Colombia (where surveys had been conducted) demonstrated to the Colombian geological survey and risk management agencies who participated, how social science research could help inform risk communication and management activities. The sessions initiated discussions about what more authorities could do to help communities access risk information and improve preparedness planning. the authorities themselves identified areas where their own work could be improved at the local level. Decisions were taken to do some scenario exercises to identify information gaps and specific areas where preparedness planning needs greater attention. Feedback sessions in Ecuador included a presentation at a forum organised by the Ecuadorian Institute of Geophysics. The presentation prompted interest from an advisor to the Minister of Risk Management and a request to STREVA to further advise on the ministry's engagement with local authorities and communities in volcanic regions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Publication on IG-EPN website and interview with local news station 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Bulletin of workshop 'El Volcan Es Mi Vecino' published in Spanish and English on the IG-EPN website
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013