Many residents of Northeast Groningen with multiple earthquake damage think that their homes have to be reinforced, but they do not expect this to actually happen. It is this group in particular that feels significantly less safe. However, their health status is fortunately not deteriorating any further – in fact a slight improvement is noted. These are the conclusions that Dr Katherine Stroebe and Prof. Tom Postmes of the University of Groningen have drawn from their most recent Gronings Perspectief study, conducted at the request of the National Coordinator Groningen.
What do residents expect from the reinforcement operation? And how do the perceived safety, trust and health of the citizens of Groningen develop? These were the central questions in the Gronings Perspectief study that was conducted in recent months.
Thirty-seven percent of residents who suffered multiple instances of damage to their homes feel that their house should be reinforced. However, only 14% of the residents with multiple damage expect this to actually happen. Katherine Stroebe: ‘It is remarkable that the residents who consider reinforcement of their homes necessary have such low expectations. This worries us because we know that it is the residents with multiple damage in particular who feel less safe and who are at risk of developing health problems as a result of the damage and all the issues resulting from it.’
However, there is some good news too: the mental health of residents with multiple damage has slightly improved over the past year. Nevertheless, the health situation of this group of people is still considerably poorer than that of residents without any damage. In addition, they feel less safe, perceive more risks and have less trust in institutions.
The researchers make several recommendations. Within the context of the reinforcement operation, it is important to take the needs of the residents and their concerns about the safety of their homes into account. In addition, the impact of the reinforcement on the social cohesion in towns and neighbourhoods is also important. Moreover, the researchers once again emphasize that policy must bear in mind the vulnerability of residents with multiple damage. Stroebe: ‘We indicated as early as 2016 that residents with multiple damage are a high-risk group. These people have been living with uncertainty for years, and we have seen some fall apart. We find it incomprehensible that in 2019 there is still no overarching policy for the problems of this group.’
In addition, another research report will be published on Monday 16 December, presenting in-depth analyses on the impact of the earthquake in Westerwijtwerd on 22 May 2019.
Gronings Perspectief is a collaboration between the University of Groningen, the Groningen local health authority and the Groningen Social and Cultural Planning Office
. The researchers are assisted by a supervisory committee comprising the relevant municipalities, the local health authority, the Groninger Bodembeweging (a special interests group), the Groninger Gasberaad (a cross-sectoral collective of social organizations), the National Coordinator Groningen, the Province of Groningen, the Veiligheidsregio (safety region) and the Association of Groningen Villages, as well as scientific experts.
Since 2016, a team led by Dr Stroebe and Prof. Postmes has been investigating the health, safety and future prospects of residents of all municipalities in the gas production area, on behalf of the National Coordinator Groningen. A panel of Groningers periodically completes a questionnaire on safety, health and future prospects.
All findings of Gronings Perspectief are published on the website
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