Children and young people are acutely affected during and after floods. When they are displaced, they can lose friendship networks, school connections, and familiar surroundings, while at the same time they see adults under great strain. Flood displacement can take many forms, i.e. children may have to leave their homes, stay in unsuitable or damp homes, or be unable to attend their usual school. Floods have a significant impact on children’s emotional well-being and they often live in fear of it happening again.
Professor Mort’s research shows children play an important role in recovery, helping their families and neighbours and the wider community. Flood affected children understand the need for adaptation and often want to have a role in developing flood prevention and preparedness in their communities and families. Current flood policy either ignores children and young people or positions them in a group marked ‘vulnerable’ (along with disabled people, older people and pets). This patronises and disenfranchises children and young people, yet understanding their perspectives and capacities could inform more effective policy, enhance resilience and reduce the impact of future emergencies. Children have the right to be heard and actively participate in matters that affect them, in particular, flood management, where they say they are more afraid when they do not know what is happening.
‘Children, young people and flooding: recovery and resilience’ funded by ESRC, used creative methods to work with two groups of children directly affected by the winter 2013/4 floods in urban and rural settings. Participants developed ‘Flood Manifestos’, calling for more effective local and national flood prevention, mitigation and adaptation. These and the project film (viewable via link above) demonstrate a key problem: that UK flood policy (prevention, preparation, response, recovery) is currently too fragmented to be able to respond to the children’s concerns which often fall between different organizational responsibilities.
About the speaker
Maggie Mort is Professor of Sociology of Science, Technology & Medicine at Lancaster University’s Dept of Sociology. She is Coordinator of the EC Horizon 2020 project CUIDAR: Cultures of Disaster Resilience Among Children and Young People, and leads the Children, Young People and Flooding ESRC research project. Working with participatory and ethnographic methods, she coordinated the Health and Social Consequences of the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease Epidemic and is co-author of Animal Disease and Human Trauma (Palgrave). Other publications include Technologies of recovery, plans practices and entangled politics in disaster, The Sociological Review, 2014.
She teaches and supervises in disaster studies, patient safety, medical uncertainty and health policy and has published widely on technological change in health and social care, and on the social consequences of flooding and disaster.
This is the third of four Oxford Water Network seminars exploring the theme of flooding. Prof Mort’s talk will be followed by panel discussion and Q&A. After the seminar, there will be the opportunity for informal networking over a glass of wine.