Mocoa’s foretold disaster (2018)

Disaster Risk Management as a matter of Environmental Justice

Basic project information
Marie Courtais (since 2018)

Project Executive: Marie Courtais (intern and field researcher in Mocoa, Colombia)

Motivation: Field research internship (3 months) and thesis project (2 months) for Master in International Development Studies, University of Geography, Grenoble, FRANCE

Project association: The project is located in the Environmental Justice Institute, as far as the student is received as intern by the institute. It is also associated with the University of Grenoble-Alpes (France) under an internship agreement.

Fundings: The project executive receives academic scholarships encouraging internships abroad under the condition of the internship agreement. Grants allocated are the following:
  • Explora Sup’ fundings from Region Auvergne Rhône Alpes, France
  • Scholarship Aide Mobilité Internationale (AMI), Advanced Education Ministry, France


Last year, in southern Colombia, the town of Mocoa suffered from a tremendous mudflow, letting 316 people killed, 332 injured and 76 missing disappeared and above 16,000 people affected (loss of relatives, house, school, work, goods, etc). After this tragedy, the information saying it was foretold is relayed by national and international newspapers.

With a field study, we aim to acknowledge two elements under the frame of environmental justice research. : first, the reasons why it is said it was foretold ; second, the reasons why Mocoa had been impacted with such a magnitude if it was announced. When discovering these pieces of information, the objective of the research is : to have a better understanding, through citizens discourse analysis, of the dynamics existing among a population and the local and national authorities that have a role to play in terms of disaster risk management. This research is made by taking into account a particular socio-political context where the concept of marginalization of IDPs (Internal Displaced People) may be relevant, and in an environment with a high probability of natural disaster risk.

The further research utility is to understand whether there are cases of environmental injustices in situation of Natural Disaster, in light of institutions' responsibility to administrate disaster risk management infrastructure (material mitigation, capacity training, information to the people, local laws, etc...) on a specific society with its own dynamics of inequalities and marginalization of certain groups.

Project Summary: Please click here to download the project summary.


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