As cities thrive in an urbanizing world, they face growing responsibilities and challenges. Dangerous areas once populated by a few hundred are now growing by the thousand leading to political and environmental change and socioeconomic growth rephrasing the internal dynamics of the urban. The objective of this study is to explain a section of this dynamic in an intermediate city 2800meters above sea level which resides near the most dangerous volcano in Ecuador. Cotopaxi Volcano’s threat is increased by its ability to produce dangerous cement-like flows called lahars that move rapidly along rivers and can destroy all that is in their way. The research looks at the city of Latacunga from the bottom up focusing on households, how they perceive this eminent risk and what strategies they use to protect themselves from the unpredictable. The research uses a mixed method of 200 surveyed households and fourteen interviews with residents, NGOs and government officials. Results indicate that households are aware of the risk and have learned to live with it. They rely on evacuation plans and a range of strategies to use in case of disaster. Although Cotopaxi’s last major lahar eruption was in 1877, a small eruption in 2015 tested the city’s preparedness but also gave the citizens valuable experience on what issues they might face in case of a bigger event. Social factors such as closeness to family and social networks keep people from leaving risky areas in addition to the financial investments they made in their property. Citizens rely on religion and personal belief putting their future in the hands of God and so they continue to live their life near Cotopaxi volcano. Keywords: Risk management strategies, Lahars, Land use change, Risk governance, Households, Latacunga, Cotopaxi, Ecuador

De La Sala, S. Safira
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Gaafar, T. Tasneim, & Rabé, P. Paul. (2019, September). Room for the Volcano? Shaping the risk management strategies of households in areas prone to Lahar risk in Latacunga - Ecuador. Retrieved from