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Education as a Determinant of Response to Cyclone Warnings: Evidence from Coastal Zones in India

Upasna Sharma, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India; International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
Anand Patwardhan, Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India
Anthony G Patt, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05439-180218

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Abstract

Education is often considered a means for enhancing adaptive capacity, based on the consideration that formal education is likely to improve the ability of individuals to evaluate risks and respond to warning information. We explore the relation between the level and nature of education and enhanced ability to respond to tropical cyclone risk. We make a distinction between formal school-based education and nonformal education in the form of traditional knowledge of environmental precursors and conditions that may be associated with tropical cyclone occurrence. We evaluate two possible routes through which education could lead to enhanced ability to respond to tropical cyclone risk; first, education, both formal and nonformal, may lead to a better ability to access, understand, and interpret warning information and hence lead to an appropriate response to the warning; and second, formal education may be associated with greater income levels and socioeconomic status and thus with greater resources for evacuating in response to cyclone warning. We find that the hypotheses regarding the link between formal education and adaptive capacity are actually not well supported by empirical data. On the other hand nonformal education in the form of traditional knowledge for predicting cyclones based on environmental precursors emerged as a significant determinant of the ability to understand and interpret warning information and provides a strong case for preserving and promoting a hazard-specific traditional knowledge base along with formal education.

Key words

cyclones; early warnings; education; traditional knowledge base; warning-response process
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