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    Review of 'Widening participation in community-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in Japan'

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    Widening participation in community-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in JapanCrossref
    Average rating:
        Rated 2.5 of 5.
    Level of importance:
        Rated 3 of 5.
    Level of validity:
        Rated 3 of 5.
    Level of completeness:
        Rated 2 of 5.
    Level of comprehensibility:
        Rated 2 of 5.
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    Widening participation in community-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in Japan

    This paper discusses community participation drawing on ongoing disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation projects in the communities affected by the Heavy Rain Event of 2018 in western Japan. By ‘DRR’, the paper supports the perspective of ‘DRR including CCA’. ‘Participatory’ approaches have become a mainstream methodology for community-based DRR as advocated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The existing participation literature addresses either the types of participation or ‘success’ factors for participation. The paper proposes there is also a challenge of ‘widening participation’, particularly in the initiatives that are already recognised as ‘good practices’. Originally widening participation was a higher education policy in the UK aiming to broaden the demographic composition of the student base. Borrowing this notion, the paper identifies how each project encourages non-participants to get involved in the project activities. The paper also draws on machizukuri [community development], which has increasingly become an overarching social policy integrating health, welfare, education and DRR. Participation is emphasised as a requisite of machizukuri in developing a resilient and sustainable community and ultimately, a democratic society.
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      Review information

      10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-SOCSCI.AB9HTT.v1.RXISNF
      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Earth & Environmental sciences,Social & Behavioral Sciences
      DRR including CCA,widening participation,participatory approaches,participation,Climate,Sustainable development,community-based DRR and CCA
      ScienceOpen disciplines:
      Keywords:

      Review text

      General assessment

      This manuscript provides an interesting introduction and analysis of community-based DRR in the context of flooding events in Japan. Its strength is its empirical insights into the normative, and often politicized, concept of community-based DRR. It offers an interesting perspective of how ideas of participation and “wider” participation have been approached and implemented across four community-based projects. The paper would, however, benefit from a stronger positioning within the existing literature, a stronger framework for analysis as well as a stronger presentation and emphasis on the central argument and contribution.

      The overall flow and consistency of the argument

      From the abstract and introduction, the main contribution appears ambiguous. Generic references are made to several large discussions currently taking place within DRR/CCA scholarship without being directly linked to the main conclusions, findings and concepts of the paper (e.g. participation versus community engagement, DRR versus CCA approaches and the notion of widening participation contra discussions of types and ideals of participation). Especially, the first sections of the paper appear fragmented and confuse the reader at times.

      The purpose of the paper is, in my reading, to explore the dimensions of participation in DRR through four specific projects and to discuss the (often) neglected barriers to broad and wide inclusion of people living in the communities in question. The paper would benefit from emphasizing this contribution from the beginning and building the argument around this main contribution.  

      Finally, the authors should write out the full definition and understanding of the main concepts early on. Especially the idea of the "widening participation approach" and how it relates to other types of community-based DRR is difficult to grasp from the introductory text and should be explained in more details to understand the very premise of the paper.

      The use of, referencing to and positioning within the existing literature on community-based DRR and democracy theory.

      The paper positions itself within broader discussions of DRR, CCA and questions of participation in democratic community-based DRR. This positioning needs to be elaborated and exemplified with a much stronger use of the existing literature and debates on community participation in CCA/DRR. One concrete example is the authors' references to the existing discourses of community-based DRR in the literature. The paper argues that the current literature focuses on “types” or “success factors” but without describing what these strands of literature contain in detail, without referencing the vast amount of literature on participation in community-based DRR and without engaging in details with the problems and pitfalls associated with existing approaches and how this paper will contribute to solving some of these. A more comprehensive literature review is needed as well as a more detailed description and exploration of the “widening approach” applied and explored in the case study.

      Moreover, a deeper engagement with the existing scholarship would help the authors create a more coherent conceptual framework for the analysis (see point below).

      Case selection

      The paper uses four different community-based DRR projects as the main point of the departure. It is, however, a bit unclear how each of these contributes to a deeper and more general understanding of community-based DRR and CCA. The authors write that all of them are considered good practices in Japan but it is evident from the analysis that they are quite different in scope and set-up and how the relate to questions of DRR and CCA. Some reflections on this as well as the extent to which these projects can be used to draw more general conclusions about the widening approach would strengthen the section.

      The (lack) of conceptual framework and structuring of analysis  

      The analysis holds many interesting details and empirical insights into how community-based DRR can be more inclusive in its orientation toward the community. Different strategies are presented as part of the description of each project; however, it is unclear how the authors arrived at these different “types” of widening participation and how the authors arrived at the current format of presenting the empirical insights. The analysis would benefit from a stronger connection and integration with the theoretical and conceptual foundations and a more structured analytical framework would help the reader follow the analysis and results as they are presented.

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