Not all stakeholders are aware or informed about their vulnerability to a changing climate, or flood risk protection. Nor are they aware of the pro-active measures they can take to adapt or deal with climate change. Awareness raising and education programs are therefore important to manage the impacts of climate change, enhance peoples’ capacity to deal with the impacts, and reduce overall vulnerability.
Sharing knowledge in this way can help build safety and resilience, reduce future hazard impacts. Communities and individuals usually want to become partners in this, and the public can be empowered to deal with the impacts and reduce future problems related to flood risk and disaster risk response.
Based on the information available on ClimateAdapt Platform and the Ifrc-Guide on Public awareness and public education for disaster risk reduction.
Several types of approaches can be used such as campaigns, participatory learning, informal education, formal school based interventions.
Given that individuals and communities are in different positions, in terms of both capacity to act as well as vulnerability or being affected by, awareness raising schemes need to be tailored to their audience.
Large climate change awareness raising campaigns are often a mixture of mitigation, energy efficiency, and sustainability measures rather than adaptation measures.
The benefits also mean that through knowledge transfer, the resilience of the community or individuals can be increased which is essentially transforming knowledge and information into potential for action, protection and mitigation of harmful effects. It stimulates self-mobilisation and makes excellent use of local knowledge and resources for improved overall capacity.
Awareness raising is continually relevant, and should be adapted as information and situation changes. Therefore, awareness raising is not only a first step but a step that can continually offer support to effectively managing flood risks.
It is also generally a measure that can accompany many others, explaining to a community the options available to for instance, prevent erosion at a local beach, thereby in theory, informing decision making and improving democratic participation in climate change adaptation and decision making.
In itself, flood hazard mapping does not cause a reduction in flood risk nor does it directly lead to people adopting risk-reduction measures. Researchers have found that people take action only when
- They know what specific actions can be taken to reduce their risks;
- They are convinced these actions will be effective;
- They people in their own ability to carry out the tasks.
Awareness raising and school education schemes are generally inexpensive in comparison to some other mitigation efforts, however, they also vary in scale, thoroughness, and continuation. For instance, in order to be effective, generally education and awareness raising should include consistent and standard messaging, legitimacy and credibility, and scalability. It may require adaptation to specific local circumstances, such as language translation, or continual evaluation as a situation changes or becomes different. It may also only be effective if it reaches the target stakeholders it was designed for, who may for instance, have low capacity to deal with flood disasters despite having increased their awareness about them. Thus finding, low cost solutions or area specific options is crucial.
Thus, awareness raising and education programs are most effective when developed through a participatory approach where needs, expectations, and capacity are measured and information is developed together. Moreover, the more tailored, maintained and thoughtful the approach the more likely it will be to be put into practice.