Official response to explosive volcano hazards usually involves evacuation of local inhabitants to safe shelters. Enforcement is often difficult and problems can be exacerbated when major eruptions do not ensue. Families are deprived of livelihoods and pressure to return to hazardous areas builds. Concomitantly, prevailing socio-economic and political conditions limit activities and can influence vulnerability. This paper addresses these issues, examining an ongoing volcano hazard (Tungurahua) in Ecuador where contextual realities significantly constrain responses. Fieldwork involved interviewing government officials, selecting focus groups and conducting surveys of evacuees in four locations: a temporary shelter, a permanent resettlement, with returnees and with a control group. Differences in perceptions of risk and health conditions and in the potential for economic recovery were found among groups with different evacuation experiences. The long-term goal is to develop a model of community resilience in long-term stress environments.
Graham. A. Tobin and Linda M. Whiteford