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Disaster Risk Challenges: A three country perspective

by Marcus
Disaster Risk Challenges

Disaster Risk Challenges: A three country perspective

Countries around the world have very different approaches to Disaster Risk Challenges including disaster planning and management, with varying degrees of national and community driven coordination. Cultural and social concerns as well as geographical, political and economic factors are bound up in the challenges to improve implementation of prevention and rescue measures. Despite differing levels of economic development, many countries share similar physical risks due to the nature of their geography. In this feature, the challenges and solutions are studied for three particular countries with mountainous terrain, landslide risks and tectonic activity, Nepal, Italy and Iran.

Disaster vulnerability in Nepal

This article explores Nepal’s disaster risk challenges and vulnerability from a local perspective. Nepal currently has a disaster management policy and legislative framework yet it is perceived as not trickling down effectively to make significant progress in reducing the impact of disasters at the local level. The article uses the case study method to explore local disaster vulnerability in the Mountain, Hill and Terai regions of Nepal. It concludes that a lack of micro-disaster vulnerability analysis is a problem that remains for effective disaster risk management in Nepal. On the one hand, disaster management practitioners create and enforce disaster management programmes without location-specific knowledge. On the other hand, traditional, less scientific and less disaster risk reduction-centred administrative approaches dominate and push local people into situations where they are vulnerable to disasters. Click here to read the full article.

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Drivers of transformative change in the Italian landslide risk policy

In the face of needed transformation of disaster policy towards more pro-active investments in prevention and preparedness, we discuss the factors contributing to or driving disaster policy change. Building on policy learning and change theory, the research focuses on the relationship between widely publicized catastrophic events, advocacy coalitions that promote new policy initiatives, and other contextual factors driving change. We demonstrate the complex interaction of transformative changes and context by analyzing the history of Italian landslide risk policy, including the policy process, legal and institutional landscapes, scientific innovation and major hydro-geological disasters. A desk study is combined with 18 semi-structured interviews with expert informants and stakeholders at the national level. Two historical examples, the 1966 Florence flood (influencing landslide policy) and the 1998 Sarno landslide, show how catastrophic disasters can open a policy window; but events, alone, are not sufficient for driving major reforms. In these examples, disaster events were coupled with strong advocacy coalitions that promoted policy change. Some disciplinary coalitions proved to be particularly successful in influencing policy paths, especially if they belonged to long established and organized groups (e.g. hydrologists as opposed to geophysicists). Also, the capability to provide models and scenarios, e.g. due to more reliable forecasts for floods than landslides, influenced the capacity of certain coalitions to push their ideas forward. The study reveals the critical need to proactively promote exchanges between scientists and policy-makers in order to better formulate and implement needed changes in disaster policy. Click here to read the full article.

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Main challenges on community-based approaches in earthquake risk reduction: Case study of Tehran, Iran

During the recent years and especially after the destructive Bam Earthquake in December 2003, the importance of public awareness and community-based activities for disaster risk mitigation and management have been revealed more clearly to Iran’s authorities. In this regard, several national policies have been prepared and some activities were carried out by governmental and non-governmental organizations for improving the public awareness and participation in earthquake risk reduction programs from local to national levels. In this paper, these activities have been partly addressed. In addition, the results of a pilot study carried out in three districts of Tehran are presented and discussed in order to evaluate the current situation of public awareness as well as the willingness of Tehran residents to participate in risk mitigation activities. After providing the necessary training and preparing disaster maps, the results of this study showed that communities found novel ways to improve their capabilities for reducing the impacts of potential earthquakes and responding to their effects. Understanding the physical and technical shortages of community-based organizations in Tehran in the field of disaster preparedness and management was another outcome of this research. Click here to read the full article.

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Articles courtesy of International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.

Main image courtesy: Knud Falk/Danish Red Cross



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