Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN08_03: Disaster Management and International Responses
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Daniel F. Lorenz, Freie Universität Berlin
Location: UP.4.214
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

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International Deployments and Organized Crime

Diego R. Fernandez Otegui

University of Delaware, United States of America

This article explores a troublesome and generally unnoticed consequence of the international convergence of large numbers of humanitarians in the aftermath of a disaster.

The loss of lives, the destruction of infrastructure and large economic losses are widely recognized consequences of disasters. Poor economies additionally suffer from structural weaknesses such as weak border controls, high levels of corruption, political instability and an inefficient public machinery. The disruption generated by a disaster combined with these local conditions usually develop into a permissive environment that is porous to unwanted foreign elements, including organized crime. In this article I discuss how some aspects of current international humanitarian practice affects and sometimes even worsens pre-existing structural insecurity of a post disaster context. I do this by overlapping organized crime theory and international convergence theory and analyzing past deployments through the lens of institutional logics.

The data was collected through in-depth interviews with top officials at large humanitarian organizations. Using a deductive approach, I analyzed the extent to which these officials were conscious about how international humanitarian action can be used to the benefit of organized crime. I discovered that humanitarian officials in charge of making decisions about international deployments interpret information in a very narrow way and that they fail to perceive, let alone understand, the intricate ways in which their interventions might facilitate the development of criminal activity. I finish the article discussing the benefits of establishing stronger regulations for those organizations operating overseas as an alternate policy tool to increase the overall cohesiveness of the humanitarian system.

Build-Back Better? How Post-Disaster Emotions Hamper the Use of Resilience in the Reinstatement of Damaged Homes and Businesses

Tim Harries1, Jessica Lamond2, Claire Twigger-Ross3

1Kingston University, United Kingdom; 2University of the West of England, United Kingdom; 3Collingwood Environmental Planning, United Kingdom

This paper will suggest that the emotionally loaded nature of post-disaster recovery limits the possibilities of increasing resilience. The post-disaster period is in many ways the ideal time for improvements to the physical resilience of damaged buildings, for the additional cost and disruption is less than it would be at other times. However, this opportunity is rarely taken up. The paper argues that one reason for this is the emotional response generated by disasters. Firstly, an emphasis on emotion-focused coping amongst occupants means that they will only favour resilience measures if they perceive them as emotionally safe: i.e. as reliable and/or normal – which most are not. Secondly, for the professionals involved in the reinstatement of affected properties, the lack of a dispassionate, problem-focused building-owner adds relational complexity to a situation already ridden with technical, financial and inter-organisational challenges. This deters them from adding yet further complexity by promoting the topic of resilience. Thirdly, the presence of these emotions undermines trust. Being poorly equipped to deal with the level and type of emotion that is present, professionals tend to shy away from the emotional content of the situation and, rather than using empathy to build trust, focus exclusively on practical matters. This makes it harder for them to nudge occupants into more problem-focused modes of coping and win support for the introduction of physical resilience measures. The paper draws on government funded research with reinstatement professionals and owners of flooded UK properties.

Boundary Work to Conduct Business as Usual: Interaction at the Boundary Between the Affected Organization and Emergency Responders

Olof Oscarsson

Mid Sweden University, Sweden

The goal of this study is to examine the interaction when a workplace suffers an emergency and the emergency responders temporarily deploy their workplace inside the affected workplace to address the emergency. The research is based on semi-structured interviews with personnel from fire and rescue services and personnel from schools and eldercare centers. A total of 16 interviews were employed in three different municipalities in Sweden . A multiple-case study approach is employed. The multiple-case study approach fits particularly well since the analytical aim is mainly descriptive and exploratory and the focus is on understanding ‘how and why’ the interaction was conducted.

To study the interaction a theoretical framework of boundary work is applied to find boundary work practices that govern the interaction. Four different boundary work practices are salient: emergency containment, division of responsibility, division of labor and crossing the boundary. These boundary work practices provide structure and enable both parties to concentrate on their own work. It also enables support over the workplace boundaries. Thus, the interaction may be described as a cooperation mutually accomplished by both parties.

Navigating the European Landscape of Disaster Risk Reduction – The Case of Data and Socioeconomic Factors

Jorgen Sparf

Mid Sweden University, Risk and Crisis Research Centre, Sweden

The social landscape throughout Europe displays huge differences in politics, economy, welfare and integration. Similarly, the threats leveled against the continent vary both in nature and in magnitude. Each state is responsible for its own disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies; however, the common European community is a salient convergence for knowledge exchange, agreements, and collaboration. Increasing the capacity of individual European countries as well as the continent as a whole necessitates that we be aware of the common challenges European countries face. To this end, E-STAG* has undertaken a study titled Data for resilience and Socioeconomics for DRR based on document studies and interviews with the Sendai National Contact Points. Access to relevant data, their quality and compatibility are important issues when it comes to the quality of decisions governments make regarding DRR. It is for this reason that the research community and data-owning organizations must know what kind of data are needed, in what format they should be delivered, who will have access to raw data and how and whether the aggregations of them should be further disseminated. Further, socioeconomic factors are important for the implementation of disaster risk reduction and the study has investigated the particularities in a variety of economic, social, human, and political resources. This paper presents the main results and conclusions from the study that was launched in a report at the UNISDR global platform in Geneva in May, 2019.

* E-STAG is the European Science and Technology Advisory Group, jointly organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the European Commission through the EC Joint Research Center.

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