Our Main Results

by David Smith, Gonzalo Lizarralde, Lisa Bornstein, Benjamin Herazo, Trent Bonsall, and Steffen Lajoie*

An initiative aiming to reduce food insecurity in Tomé, Chile.

The 22 bottom-up initiatives served simultaneously as a research method and as a way to produce tangible change in informal settings. They created what we coined “artefacts of disaster risk reduction”: tangible objects and intangible spaces rooted in a deep understanding of the territory, local customs, and culturally relevant practices and rituals. These objects and spaces generated opportunities for open dialogue and established trust among citizens, local leaders, academics, business owners, and government officials. Most importantly, they allowed people in informal settings to reduce and manage the multiple risks they face.

Local leaders and stakeholders designed and implemented the initiatives in response to multiple risks, including floods, food insecurity, sea level rise, landslides, erosion, water pollution, soil pollution, air pollution, heat waves, drought, deforestation, crime, and violence (see Table 1). They dealt with risk through culturally relevant activities in collective spaces, including construction, urban agriculture, recreational activities, art, education, and training. The initiatives focused on:

– Environmental protection and responses to the fragile relationships between people, the built environment, and ecosystems;

– Water management and consumption, including infrastructure for potable water, drains, reservoirs, and water collection;

– Protection of humans and the built environment from water-related hazards (floods, landslides, cyclones, tsunamis, droughts, and sea level rise); and

– Urban agriculture and food security.

Table 1. Local initiatives, including type of risk addressed and response deployed.

Carahatas: The search for continuity despite risk
Yumbo: The challenge of dealing with climate risk in conditions of marginalization and violence
Salgar: The role of bottom-up action after a major disaster and during a politized reconstruction process
Concepción region: The importance of creating social alliances for change

*Cite as: Smith, David et al., (2021). Our Main Results. In Artefacts of Disaster Risk Reduction: Community-based responses to climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean. Smith, David; Herazo, Benjamin; Lizarralde, Gonzalo (editors). Montreal: Université de Montréal. Accessible here: https://artefacts.umontreal.ca/