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Emotions matter: EMPOWER-ing youth by integrating emotions of (chronic) disaster risk into strategies for disaster preparedness
The article draws on lessons learned from participatory and community-based research with 30 young people in the urban periphery of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as well as educational approaches on dealing with climate anxiety and ecological distress. In a context where disaster risk has become a chronic, continuous condition, this paper explores new pathways for creating long-term (emotional) resilience. I show that emotions matter as part of devising community-based and formal educational strategies for disaster risk reduction and preparedness. Focus is on exploring young people's everyday emotional experiences in situations of recurrent disaster risk, such as flooding and landslides.
Results indicate that participants tended to ‘normalise’ risk while using humour to engage with difficult emotions. Results however also show that with the tools at hand to acknowledge, validate and engage with the emotions of disaster risk, youth can develop and cultivate hope, improve individual coping behaviours, and recognise their agency without minimising or denying their experience. To guide interdisciplinary disaster risk scholars and practitioners in developing a process of reflective participation and collaborative peer- and intergenerational learning about disaster risk, I developed the EMPOWER framework. I suggest that by openly engaging with and sharing emotions across the researcher/practitioner and participant divide, we can develop critical reflexivity and collective hope as part of a praxis for improved wellbeing and disaster preparedness.