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Public involvement in flood risk management in Hungary

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The increasing frequency and intensity of recent floods and their economic, social, and political impacts created a situation in Hungary where flood management strategies need urgent reconsideration. Research suggests that in the case of natural disasters of uncertain and changing character, public education, information, participation, and cooperation are particularly important tools for coping. Drawing on the data collected by two recent empirical studies, this paper investigates state-of-the-art public involvement in flood control activities in Hungary. Results of a questionnaire survey and a series of semistructured interviews conducted in three flood basins of the Tisza river indicate that although the highly centralized system of flood control, and especially its strong financial background, a characteristic of state socialism, has significantly weakened since the political transition, forms of public participation, which could reduce the risk by building on a more conscious and responsible attitude of the citizens, have not developed yet. Paternalist and elitist attitudes prevail on the part of the authorities, contributing to the passivity of the public. There are signs, however, that in certain places, local government leaders take responsibility for building communication networks to raise public awareness and mobilize the public more effectively.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2002

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