All in the same boat - Documentary as method in flood risk communication

Submitted by Philip Bubeck | published 17th Jan 2019 | last updated 13th May 2019
Follow the story of three women that took part in our project using an EbA approach to strengthen women in DRM and CCA

Background

The documentary All in the same boat produced by the ResilNam project followed a people-centred, transdisciplinary approach in communicating flood risk to at-risk communities, as suggested by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The aim was to provide locally embedded and multivocal perspectives on the role of gender in flood experiences and ecosystem-based adaptation in Thua Thien Hue province, by portraying three women living in coastal and urban flood-prone areas. Women are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of flooding, and the reasons for this vulnerability and possible resilience strategies are often not sufficiently communicated to make this knowledge a shared resource. Therefore, we chose a participatory, visual anthropological approach to make our protagonists’ flood experiences as well as the EbA measures they are involved in understandable and emotionally accessible to an interested local audience.

Read more about Women and ecosystem-based adaptation to flood risk in Central Vietnam in the synthesis report available to download from the right-hand column.

Approach

One of the key methods applied was the creation of flood-diaries: Our three protagonists wrote personal narratives in which they were reflecting topics such as their individual flood experiences, challenges they cope with as women throughout the disaster cycle, gender-related questions in the context of EbA measures and the potential they see in EbA. These diary narratives were recorded and combined with additional footage generated in the context of “video elicitations”.  Video/photo elicitations are a well-known anthropological method in which audiovisual material serves as a catalyst to shape and facilitate the narration of “stories behind the pictures”. In our case, each of our protagonists directed the film team to specific spots they described in their diaries and linked their narratives to the specific local contexts they chose.

Lessons Learnt

We think that this approach can be productive in order to communicate flood impacts and the role of gender in EbA in more context-sensitive ways. Further, it can help to strengthen non-scientific perspectives on the role of EbA and, if locally disseminated, holds the potential to serve as an effective means to create identification among those affected by flood risk. Usually, the intention behind film-based outreach efforts in the field of disaster risk reduction is to take advantage of the medium film to transfer scientific knowledge or to motivate certain cognitive/behavioural responses of different target audiences. Albeit this is an important function, this project showed that going beyond this “deficit-orientation”, the medium film can also be used as a tool to strengthen the collaborative, reflexive and translational dimension of flood risk communication.