92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012: 9:30 AM
Outcomes From Integrating Socioeconomic Assessments to Build Community Resilience in Mitigating Drought in Hawaii
Room 243 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Cheryl L. Anderson, PhD, Univ. of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI; and M. A. Piscolish, PhD, N. D. Fujii, and S. Henly-Shepard

In 2010, the State of Hawai'i experienced severe drought with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event, and the state was already reeling from six drought emergency declarations in the previous eight years, and nearly persistent drought in Hawaiʻi Island. Relief from the drought comes from heavy rainfall anomalies that have resulted in seven presidential flooding disaster declarations in the same period. The State of Hawai'i's closest point to the continental United States is more than 2,500 miles and the geographic remoteness demands that Hawaii's disaster management sectors prepare for situations where relief assistance may not arrive for more than a week. Hawai'i is at risk from multiple hazards that impact infrastructure, such as water distribution and irrigation systems, and drought persists for periods of months to years, it is critical for Hawai'i to develop long-term strategies that increase food security and water availability, especially in the face of potential impacts from climate change. The analysis of the socioeconomic impacts of drought provides important lessons for integrated disaster risk reduction approaches and climate adaptation planning that focus on building resiliency.

Although the greatest effects of the drought occurred in the agricultural community, the extent and degree of drought on communities, culture, and livelihoods were not previously well understood, and plans suffered from the inability to remedy the impacts. With support from the NOAA Climate Program Office Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP-Water) and the National Integrated Drought Information System, the University of Hawai'i Social Science Research Institute conducted a socioeconomic assessment on the impacts of the drought using key informant interviews, surveys, and social network analysis of the agricultural sector—the sector most impacted by drought. The investigation revealed several key findings: 1) effects of drought exacerbate a tenuous land management system for the agricultural community; 2) localized impacts are not merely financial and economic, but have emotional, legal, cultural, political, and social implications; 3) primary impacts to agricultural producers extend throughout the community and approaches to address drought risk requires local community engagement; 4) recovery periods, which may be several years, are not reflected in agricultural, relief assistance, and land use planning; 5) recovery and resilience are hampered by cascading hazards and cumulative impacts from extreme events that are considered separately rather than cyclically; and 6) survivor stories provide key lessons for preparing and mitigating future drought risk.

The project establishes a process for risk reduction that raises awareness level of drought and hazards and develops a template that can be used to systematically identify and integrate socioeconomic information into mitigation plans.

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