A Deliberative Rural Community Consultation to Assess Support for Flood Risk Management Policies to Strengthen Resilience in Malawi
As disasters increase in frequency and magnitude with adverse effects on population health, governments will be forced to implement disaster risk management policies that may include forced relocation. Ineffective public consultation has been cited as one reason for failure of these policies. Using the deliberative polling method, this study assessed the capacity of rural communities to participate in flood risk management policy priority setting and the impact of providing accurate and balanced information on policies by comparing pre-and post -deliberation data. The study also assessed the level of trust on whether government and community would use the results of this study. Results indicated strong community support for policy options to reduce vulnerability in communities and strong resistance to relocation. As all the top five ranked policy options were concerned with population pressure, gender, and social service issues, which are all conceptually considered social determinants of a healthy community, this study concludes that public health considerations are central to flood risk policy development and implementation. The study revealed high levels of trust in government and the community relating to flood risk management, which policymakers in low-to-middle income countries can capitalise on for meaningful community consultation for effective disaster risk management.