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Investigaciones geográficas

versión On-line ISSN 2448-7279versión impresa ISSN 0188-4611


SOLIS, Berenice; BOCCO, Gerardo  y  GRANADOS, Janik. Social strategies and risk management in the nahua ethnic region of sierra costa of Michoacán. Invest. Geog [online]. 2019, n.99, e59835.  Epub 25-Sep-2019. ISSN 2448-7279.

Given its conditions of vulnerability, the Nahua ethnic region located in Sierra Costa de Michoacán is exposed to threats posed by hydrometeorological conditions. The recurring impact of these threats has caused damages and economic losses to a marginalized social group characterized by a high poverty index and educational gap, high vulnerability, and limited access to development and well-being. The objectives of the present analysis are the identification and documentation of the risk conditions typically faced by the community and how it copes with them and identify potential options for strengthening community capacities. This reports the results of a study aiming to recognize the knowledge constructed by society in a specific space and period (which is the basis of adaptive social strategies), and the cultural practices that have contributed to the implementation of mechanisms that have improved community responsiveness. To this end, we used qualitative methods (field observation, literature review, workshops, and participatory mapping, testimonies, and semi-structured interviews).

This knowledge has been built from the observation of the landscape before, during, and after an event, and the severity of impacts. Depending on losses and damages, the risk can be categorized as mild, moderate, and catastrophic. The spatial dimension of knowledge was represented by maps of risk that integrated the capabilities of the local community, schools, clinics, etc.

The information compiled supported the development of adaptive strategies such as the extensive social mobility within the territory ranging from settlements in the Sierra to those in coastal plains and deltas. This mobility is based on kinship ties and reciprocity within the community. The repairing of roads through community work is the most common mitigation practice; if access roads are interrupted, members of the community build or open secondary roads to manage the emergency. The community rules relate to adaptive strategies, with the Assembly as the highest authority in the community, responsible for designing which zones are suitable for human settlements, according to the environmental characteristics and preferences of the population. Also, it allocates economic resources to the maintenance and repairing of the main roads.

Mestizo settlements within the Nahua territory are organized through local leaders who form response brigades for the monitoring, establishment of evacuation routes, delimitation of safe shelter areas, depending on their previous experience. In spite of the immediate and positive response in Huahua and the efforts by some community members to keep active brigades, the organization in place is poorly maintained, which could contribute to the cyclical nature of risks.

Finally, we highlight the importance of incorporating adaptive strategies and local capacities within a framework of risk co-management. We assume that the social stakeholders know the territory, its issues and dynamics, and are interested in preventing risks, also because they represent the first source of help for those affected. Once the risk conditions are identified and the adaptive social strategies are documented, decision-makers integrate the information from other scientists and the analysis of policies to build management capacities (so that the community is capable of planning and mitigating any risks).

Palabras llave : Vulnerability; mitigation; adaptive strategies; risk co-management.

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