Challenges to social capacity building in flood-affected areas of southern Poland
Abstract. Various aspects of beliefs, behaviour and expectations of at-risk populations were analysed in four case study localities in southern Poland that were affected by flooding in 1997 and 2001. They represent localities of different sizes and are characterised by different paths of historical development. Two of them are deep-rooted communities with dense, strong family and neighbourhood ties, while the other two experienced an almost total replacement of their population due to decisions taken after World War II and still suffer from less developed social networks. Historical events also resulted in the disruption of local memories of flooding and transmission of knowledge about natural hazards. A questionnaire survey was conducted in late autumn 2006, followed by structured telephone interviews and focus group interviews in spring 2008. The results of the survey and interviews were analysed with reference to the social capacity framework and its five dimensions: knowledge, motivational, network, economic and governance capacities. Network capacities, that is resources of bonding and bridging social capital, were considered a key notion when analysing and interpreting the results. The differences in the local resources and abilities available in each of the localities to prepare a response to natural hazards were revealed. Consequently, challenges faced in the process of building and strengthening social capacity were identified as well as ways to address these challenges. It was concluded that there are general trends and tendencies that need to be considered in risk management strategies, however the different starting points of each case study community calls for different means and approaches, as well as producing somewhat different expected outcomes.