Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-164
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-164

  02 Jul 2021

02 Jul 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Risk communication successes and limits during sismo-volcanic crisis: the example of Mayotte, France

Maud H. Devès1,2, Robin Lacassin1, Hugues Pécout3, and Geoffrey Robert1 Maud H. Devès et al.
  • 1Université de Paris, Institut de physique du globe de Paris, CNRS UMR 7154, 75005 Paris, France
  • 2Université de Paris, Institut Humanités Sciences Sociétés, Centre de Recherche Psychanalyse Médecine et Société, CNRS EA 3522, 75013 Paris, France
  • 3Université de Paris, Collège international des sciences territoriales, CNRS FR 2007, 75013 Paris, France

Abstract. On 10 May 2018, an active seismic crisis began on French island of Mayotte, which a year later will be shown to be related to offshore volcanic activity. It affects a vulnerable territory exposed to risks of many kinds (poverty, violence, lack of basic resources). In the absence of known events in human memory, the population is naive with regard to seismic and volcanic hazards. The concern is therefore very strong. In spite of a large number of publications, the communication set up by the main actors of the risk chain does not answer the population's concern. To understand why, we analyse a large corpus of the textual communications (press releases, web pages, scientific bulletins, reports, etc.) issued by the authorities and scientists from May 2018 to April 2021. We draw lessons on the communication strategy put in place in the first three years of the crisis; and we issue recommendations for improvement in the future, in Mayotte, but also elsewhere in contexts where comparable geo-crises may happen. We notably stress the importance of ensuring that communication is not overly technical, that it aims to inform rather than reassure, that it focuses on risk and not only on hazard and that it provides clues to possible risk scenarios.

Maud H. Devès et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-164', Anna Hicks, 19 Aug 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2021-164', Julie Morin, 30 Sep 2021

Maud H. Devès et al.

Maud H. Devès et al.

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Short summary
This paper focuses on risk governance and more specifically on how scientific information flows from where it is produced to where it is used for risk reduction (public decision, media, information of population likely to be affected). It builds from the analysis of the unique seismic-volcanic crisis in Mayotte, France to make recommendations for improving risk communication strategies in contexts where comparable geo-crises may occur.
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