Wednesday 7
Disaster Resilience 1
Anne Leitch
› 11:30 - 12:30 (1h)
Urban resilience to natural disasters and the performance of disaster management organisations under change. Results from a modelling study.
Gunnar Dressler  1, *@  , Christian Kuhlicke  2@  , Anna Kunath  2@  , Chloe Begg  2@  , Birgit Müller  1@  , Karin Frank  1@  
1 : Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany  (UFZ)  -  Website
Permoser Str. 15 04318 Leipzig -  Allemagne
2 : Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany  (UFZ)  -  Website
Permoser Str. 15 04318 Leipzig -  Allemagne
* : Corresponding author

Natural disasters and in particular floods have become a strong threat to urban communities in the last decades. This paper focuses on two recent flood events affecting large parts of Eastern Germany: In just eleven years two centenary river floods have caused damages of 9.1 billion € (2002) and 6.7 billion € (2013, first estimate), making them the most costly flood events in German history. Both times, cities along the rivers Mulde, Elbe and their tributaries in the Free State of Saxony were strongly hit by the flood. Besides being flood-prone, the resilience of many of these cities is challenged additionally by demographic change. Population shrinkage has led to an ageing society and limitations in capacities of existing disaster management services since the 1990s. Especially volunteer-based disaster management organisations face difficulties in reliably providing their services and protecting their community due to diminishing numbers of actively participating members.

We pursue the question how responsible organisations understand and deal with the challenges associated with demographic change, as well as expected increases in flood frequency and intensity, and what strategies could enhance their performance in the future. To explore different scenarios of change, including flood frequency and intensity, socio-demographic settings of the community at risk as well as changes in organizational structures, we developed an agent-based simulation model based on the institutional settings for disaster management in the Free State of Saxony, Germany. The model is developed in close exchange with relevant stakeholders including experts of local disaster management organisations and authority representatives. It is set at the level of an administrative district and incorporates socio-demographic settings of the community, communication and coordination structures of disaster management as well as transportation infrastructure for resources and emergency forces. We especially focus on formal network structures of coordination and communication between organisations, authorities and operation control, as well as informal structures such as emerging networks of volunteers or informal communication between organisations.

The goal of the model is to assess the performance of disaster management organisations and determine performance limits with respect to impacts of the aforementioned change processes. We evaluate particularly how informal network structures can act as buffers to cope with these impacts. The model is then used as a basis for discussion with experts of disaster management organisations and authority representatives to identify weak points and to reveal options to overcome bottlenecks and enhance protection. These findings can then be used to formulate new strategies for disaster management that contribute to the communities' resilience.

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