Five decades of Disasters in Bukoba: An Abridgment of Earthquake Survivors’ Agentic Lived experiences

Egidius Kamanyi


This paper explores lived experiences of earthquake survivors in Bukoba District. It adopts a qualitative study methodology to capture the narratives of survivors of multiple disasters. The objective was to uncover the emerging forms of agency as expressed through survivors’ living experiences. Key informant interviews, focus group discussion, observation and documentary review were the methods used in highlighting the five-decade long (1970- 2019) lived experiences of disaster survivors of Bukoba, Tanzania. Informed by Emirbayer and Mische’s (1998) Chordal Triad of Agency conceptualization, the results show that individual agency, which is usually unheard of in conventional disaster management studies and practice, plays an important role in disaster survival. The paper shows that vulnerability or resilience dominant in disaster management studies are part of the life continuum and not ends in themselves. The paper has shown that human agency plays an important role in facing, experiencing, and recovering from disasters. It is concluded that, people who face disasters are agentic survivors whose life is a continuum of multiple complex experiences. It urges policymakers to reflect on these experiences in the national disaster management policies and regulations, which should also translate into practical interventions in a community faced by disasters.

Keywords: human agency, disasters, survivors, lived experiences

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