Collaborating With Communities: Citizen Science Flood Monitoring in Urban Informal Settlements

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Collaborating With Communities: Citizen Science Flood Monitoring in Urban Informal Settlements


  • Erich Wolff Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Monash University, Australia
  • Matthew French Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University, Australia
  • Noor Ilhamsyah Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments Program, Indonesia
  • Mere Jane Sawailau Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments Program, Fiji
  • Diego Ramírez-Lovering Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Monash University, Australia


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Abstract:  Concerns regarding the impacts of climate change on marginalised communities in the Global South have led to calls for affected communities to be more active as agents in the process of planning for climate change. While the value of involving communities in risk management is increasingly accepted, the development of appropriate tools to support community engagement in flood risk management projects remains nascent. Using the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments Program as a case study, the article interrogates the potential of citizen science to include disadvantaged urban communities in project-level flood risk reduction planning processes. This project collected more than 5,000 photos taken by 26 community members living in 13 informal settlements in Fiji and Indonesia between 2018 and 2020. The case study documents the method used as well as the results achieved within this two-year project. It discusses the method developed and implemented, outlines the main results, and provides lessons learned for others embarking on citizen science environmental monitoring projects. The case study indicates that the engagement model and the technology used were key to the success of the flood-monitoring project. The experiences with the practice of monitoring floods in collaboration with communities in Fiji and Indonesia provide insights into how similar projects could advance more participatory risk management practices. The article identifies how this kind of approach can collect valuable flood data while also promoting opportunities for local communities to be heard in the arena of risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Keywords:  citizen science; climate change; community-based methods; Fiji; flood monitoring; Indonesia; informal settlements

Published:  


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v6i4.4648


© Erich Wolff, Matthew French, Noor Ilhamsyah, Mere Jane Sawailau, Diego Ramírez-Lovering. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.