This proposal seeks to advance the current literature on community vulnerability and resiliency by utilizing community based participatoty research to qualitatively assess and improve upon indicators of social vulnerability and resiliency to technological disasters and identify successful strategies for resiliency in resource dependent communities along the Gulf Coast. In partnership with community organizations representing advocacy groups currently involved in the recovery process following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, investigators from the University of Florida will conduct key informant interviews, focus groups, and community surveys to identify critical points of vulnerability and resiliency. Though partnerships with local partners, the community-based research process will build organizational capacity to better understand and monitor these critical points of vulnerability and resiliency in preparation for future disasters. In building organizational capacity, this project aims to improve population health by improving local civic and nonprofit capacity for disaster preparedness and recovery. Four communities represented by local grassroots organizations will participate in this project and the identification and comparison of their strategies for recovery will be used to develop a set of 'best practices'for communities to implement in preparation for future disasters.
The specific aims of the project are to: 1) Assess social vulnerability and community resiliency in each of the four partner communities utilizing established measures from the community psychology, sociology, and disaster preparedness literatures;2) Employ participatoty research techniques to evaluate established measures of vulnerability and resilience and develop culturally-specific alternative indicators through community-based assessments;3) Characterize the social networks at the community and regional levels through which crisis and risk communication flows to improve how critical information for the protection of human health during a disaster and subsequent recovery periods is interpreted and shared;and 4) Identify alternatives to participation in litigation as means of recovery for individuals and communities to develop recommendations for policy-makers in preparation of future disasters.
Community health is an important component of public health. This research project will improve upon our limited understanding of the role of social resources and networks in the protection of human health following a major disaster. By partnering with communities both directly and indirectly impacted by the spill, we can better understand how communities are affected by disasters and the strategies they employ to recover.
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