Tourism and Disaster – Effects and Causes of the “Himalayan Tsunami”
Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
In 2013, extreme rainfall and a bursting glacial lake triggered massive flooding in the Indian Himalaya. Many mountain villages were completely devastated and approximately over 15.000 people lost their lives. The disaster was covered nationwide in India as a great number of people on the holy pilgrimage Char Dham as well as a highly symbolic Hindu temple were affected.
For the local population small disasters are frequent events, but the catastrophe of 2013 was much bigger in scale. Climate change, human interventions in the sensitive environments of the Himalaya, but also highly contested development policies such as transport and tourism infrastructures are seen as contributing factors that made this calamity possible.
Building on a literature survey and ethnographic field research our analysis of the long-term effects shows that there are multiple vulnerabilities to be found that materialize very differently due to diverse social and cultural contexts. At the same time the predominant patterns of tourism with massive financial support of international investors like the World Bank seem to be the uniting force in the back producing these diverse vulnerabilities.
This proofs not only to be most important to understand the production of the "Himalayan Tsunami" in 2013, but also for disasters to come. The same kind of tourism contributing significantly to the disaster in 2013 is still or perhaps even more seen as panacea to overcome the effects of the disaster of 2013. At the same time tourism is nearly uncontested due to its religious foundation. Given a region of natural hazards, that are likely to increase due to climate change, the paper describes how the alleged coping with one disaster aggravates future disaster risks.
Legionella, vulnerabilities and mistrust - a Portuguese case
University of Lisbon, Portugal
Despite the sometimes-effusive discourses of sustainable development, its attainment continues to be threatened by environmental degradation both in a more global way – e.g., climate change – and through more limited ecological breakdowns – e.g., industrial accidents. The outbreak of Legionella in the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira and, above all, its consequences, offers a particularly interesting case study of localized ecological breakdown, with serious social, economic, and public health consequences. To reflect on this event, the participatory workshop here presented, brought together more than three dozen people grouped in four deliberation tables: 1) affected men, 2) affected women, 3) affected youth, 4) unaffected citizens. The central objective of the workshop was to clarify where the chain of sustainability interdependencies has been broken or reinforced, despite the need for the simultaneous promotion of environmental quality and quality of life has been proclaimed from the earliest stage. The results point to a social context that would have claimed for greater proactivity of administration institutions to encourage local public involvement and mobilization. After all, a committed application of the Aarhus Convention's triad – i.e., access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters – might have contributed to the quashing of institutional momentum that, inevitably, as in other contexts, tended to feed on the failures of monitoring and on inaptitude of managing the crisis. After all, from the fears and misunderstandings arising from the outbreak of Legionella.
Inter-organizational Institutional Learning of Public Authorities and Security Organizations on the Example of the „Refugee Crisis“
1University of Wuppertal, Germany; 2German Police University, Germany
Between late summer 2015 and spring 2016, public authorities, aid organizations, and private actors faced circumstances that were labeled as the “refugee crisis”. Due to the peak of an increased refugee movement from the Middle East to Central Europe, in particular to Germany, relevant stakeholders instantly operated at full capacity and formed inter-organizational ad-hoc networks to tackle the extremely challenging situation. They faced severe issues to provide sufficient security, housing, or medical support for the refugees. According to press reports some of these ad-hoc approaches worked well while others failed. However, in retrospect, this was not the first time German institutions had to face a situation like this. In the 1990s, a high number of refugees arrived in Germany in several similar situations. But back then no institutional structures were installed to learn from good and bad experiences for the future.
Regarding these issues, scarce empirical material and scientific literature can be found about the way the situation was managed. Therefore, it seems self-evident that science in close collaboration with security stakeholders need to explore to prevent for similar situations in the future. The cooperative research project “Security Cooperation and Migration (SiKoMi)” addresses this gap: “How and what could public authorities and security organizations learn from the past and how could they institutionalize this new knowledge for the future?”. By focusing on assumptions depicted from literature reviews, first results from a qualitative media analysis and the research design, we will present suggestions on how to develop preventive inter-organizational measures for similar social crises in the future.
The Organizational Conflicts Impacting the Emergency Medical Services in Mass Gatherings: A Case Study of the Hajj.
University of Delaware, United States of America
The Hajj (or pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the largest annual mass-gathering events, with a considerable international attendance. Over its long history, the Hajj has been prone to many documented risks, which require high-performance emergency medical services (EMS) systems. This study investigates the organizational factors that shape or impact the EMS delivery process within the Hajj mass gatherings. Nineteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants, ambulance teams and police officers. Also, non-obtrusive observations for selected segments of mass gatherings in the Hajj was performed. A thematic qualitative analysis was applied to the data retrieved from the interviews and the ethnographic notes. The qualitative analysis reveals different issues affected the process of delivery EMS to the attendees of the Hajj mass gathering. The most reported obstacle hindering the EMS delivery is traffic control points managed by the police. The variations on police and EMS systems’ priorities lead to conflict significantly delaying EMS. The police focus on crowd disaster preventive measures, whereas EMS systems focus on response to urgent medical care calls. It was also noted that some patients deprioritize their medical needs as they focus on completing their ritual duties on time. Working on resolving issues highlighted by this study should promote the EMS services in the Hajj. The current study could inform future research on mass gathering medicine and crowd disasters about the necessity of considering the potential conflicts impacting the EMS response rather than a sole focus on medical demands or preventive measures.