Community-based landslide risk reduction: a review of a Red Cross soil bioengineering for resilience program in Honduras

Effective long-term participation of communities in disaster risk reduction measures in landslide-prone areas continues to be a challenge. This study aims to evaluate the extent to which community-based soil-bioengineering techniques allow for effective mitigation of shallow landslide events given technical, environmental, economic and socio-cultural sustainability criteria. The Red Cross has been implementing community-based disaster risk reduction programs aimed at increasing resilience at the community level in Honduras since 2005. Since 2010, 230 landslide hazard sites have been stabilized using soil-bioengineering measures (the use of living plant material to provide certain engineering functions) based on a carefully and systematically developed partnership with local communities. In 2018, an assessment of 73 sites established between 2010 and 2014 showed that (1) 83% of the sites were adequately maintained and (2) 69% of the sites fulfilled the function of soil stabilization. A cost-benefit analysis was conducted for two sites and indicated a cost-benefit ratio of 4.5 and 6 respectively. Some of the key factors for these high success rates include the fact that bioengineering is a locally adapted, easily implemented, cost-effective technology that offers landowners multiple benefits by increasing food security and creating income-generation opportunities. The Red Cross has recognized the importance of empowering communities by building self-confidence so that they can ultimately take responsibility for their own future. The creation of well-functioning local emergency committees has proven highly effective in achieving this goal. When adequately trained, these committees are able to support the replication and maintenance of disaster-risk reduction measures at the community-level in the long term. This case study supports the hypothesis that carefully designed participatory approaches are essential for achieving sustainable, long-term transformative change and risk reduction.

Published in:
Landslides, 16, 9, 1779-1791
Sep 01 2019

 Record created 2019-09-11, last modified 2019-10-24

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