Recommendations on fostering a more active and efficient citizen engagement in disaster management activities
A. To implement community-based disaster management initiatives one must first carry out a capacity assessment to reveal useful skills and knowledge among the local community.Disaster managers should seek to identify local citizens, who are interested in engaging with them and assist them in acquiring the skills, knowledge and behavioural change required by community-based disaster management initiatives. Encourage citizens through information campaigns and/or training activities to reflect on and build upon personal skills they already possess and that could prove useful in a disaster, e.g. technical skills, organising talent or detailed local knowledge and also develop new skills, such as carrying out risk assessments. It is also important to identify individuals who are natural leaders and who are therefore more likely to be proactive in carrying out disaster management-related tasks and can “champions” these initiatives. Related cultural factors: Local knowledge, Social networks
B. Encourage individuals to move from the role of a common/passive citizen to that of an actor/active citizen. Active citizens are those individuals who participate directly in and take ownership of the entire disaster management process. Also consider ways of overcoming the negative attitudes of some individual officials in local authorities or disaster managers towards the active participation of citizens in disaster management.
C. Create inclusive mechanisms and safe public spaces, which facilitate and support citizens’ participation and accountability in local governance and decision-making. An example of this is including members of the community in the preparation of vulnerability and risk maps. Given that these plans are directly connected with people’s daily lives and livelihoods, it gives them an extra incentive to engage with disaster managers. Related cultural factors: Local knowledge, Livelihoods
D. Included people are more willing to take the time and would like to contribute with their knowledge and personal experience in order to prevent future hazards. Civil volunteers need to be incorporated into future planning for disaster management. Related cultural factors: Social networks
E. To encourage citizens’ engagement in disaster management processes, one can use different methods, such as re-enacting roles adopted in previous disasters, drawing on collective memories and ensuring that each stage of the disaster management process is “participatory” – involving or being led by the local community. Capitalization on collective memories can be done through community workshops where the participants build, or re-build, a collective memory of local disaster risks using historical artefacts and pictures, to encourage citizens via these collective exercises to take up responsibility and action through a shared cultural identity. Elderly people can play an important role in these workshops as they represent a living "memory" of previous disasters in their area of residence and can contribute positively to the empowerment of citizens in the same area.Other similar useful activities in this regard are community gatherings to share information about customs and traditions and collective identification of support networks. Related cultural factors: Individual/collective memory, Age-related roles
F. Citizen empowerment action should be included in all stages of disaster management.
G. To improve personal preparedness, promote the setup of personal emergency plans by encouraging family discussions about emergency contacts, meeting points, means of communication etc., and provide simple reminder “templates” that can be filled and kept (e.g., as a picture on the mobile phone, a note in the handbag, or a magnet stuck on the fridge). Related cultural factors: Social networks
H. To improve citizens’ quick and appropriate response in case of a disaster, develop information campaigns, which focus specifically on the identification of “safe spots” or “safe zones” in their homes, their workplaces, and their local area, categorised by (locally relevant) type of disaster.
I. Involve active citizens and citizens’ associations to represent people’s needs and expectations and act as a bridge between then and local/national authorities, thus accelerating development at the local level. Related cultural factors: Social networks
Recommendations on tools and techniques for empowering communities in disaster situations
J. Valorise and improve through empowerment processes the contribution that each actor can bring to disaster management in all its stages and in each specific and cultural context where the hazard occurs.
K. Community empowerment (in the disaster management frame) is not a panacea. A disaster management plan should be the result of the integration of top-down and bottom-up approaches.
L. Empowerment is conditioned by the cultural context both at the cognitive level (perceptions etc.) and at the operational one, since local communities are not homogenous. Therefore, it is vital for enhancing empowerment to be as open as possible, so that different points of view, sensibilities and problems can be considered, as well as the features of the different actors. Related cultural factors: Norms/values, Customs/traditions/rituals, Worldviews, Open-mindedness, Individual/collective memory, Local knowledge, Languages, Communication, Livelihoods, Rule of law, Power relations, Attitudes toward authorities, Attitudes toward the media, Attitudes toward environmental issues, Gender roles, Age-related roles, Ethnicity, Educational system, Density of active citizenship, Social networks, Social control, Social exclusion, Access and use of infrastructure/services
M. Engage with and promote the role of women as drivers for community-based disaster management as women are often more aware of issues related to the community in which they live than men and have a greater agency for solving problems, especially when these problems can affect their family. Enable women to be actor citizens in the planning process of disasters. Related cultural factors: Gender roles
N. Foster a proactive strategy of consultation with the various cultural stakeholders and/or communities during the planning and execution of relevant disaster management activities. Related cultural factors: Social networks
O. Seek to better understand and support informal networks that appear inside the community when a disaster strikes. Such networks can be particularly useful in conflict situations, both in surviving immediate threats and in rebuilding communities after the conflict ends. Related cultural factors: Social networks
P. Facilitate empowerment actions via the development of tourism and the presence of tourism operators because these operators can be very interested in a high-participatory approach in disaster management, for the best possible safeguarding (and development) of tourism.
Q. Facilitate the empowerment of local communities through the recognition and the valorisation of safer technologies (e.g. traditional building technologies) focused on local tradition and culture (and/or on local knowledge), thus encouraging citizens to take ownership of that approach. Related cultural factors: Customs/traditions/rituals, Local knowledge
R. Create Citizens Observatories as they provide an opportunity for citizens to engage with experts and practitioners working across a range of citizen science initiatives and policymaking bodies. This practice should be adopted more broadly for enhancing disaster management. Related cultural factors: Social networks
S. Work together with the community to identify shared problems and solve during the prevention and preparation stages therefore strengthening the motivations and incentives to collaborate.
T. Support citizens to identify their own localized vulnerabilities, capacities, risks and solutions in disaster situations.
U. Assist communities in implementing mechanism enabling them to learn from previous disasters, such as information sharing activities (e.g. discussing previous events, including the community’s response to them, victims of disasters sharing their experiences). Communities feel better prepared with each future similar event (e.g. in the case of recurring events such as floods) and it helps them embrace a “shared responsibility” approach. Related cultural factors: Individual/collective memory, Local knowledge
V. Invest in the better understanding and support in the relief networks that are born in the community after a disaster. Related cultural factors: Social networks
W. Provide emotional support to those who require it, both members of the public and emergency responders.
X. Implement “community resilience” policies in territorial planning, by introducing risk-mitigation measures in urban planning and designing strategic actions which require the cooperation of local actors in the private sector and the community in resilience-building processes.
Y. Involve property owners in construction and reconstruction of the built environment before and after disasters.
Z. After man-made disasters people tend to suffer for a longer time, therefore the recovery phase should be treated with special attention and victim care must be prolonged.
AA. Cultural factors should be considered in the design and implementation of empowerment activities.
- Deliverable 4.2: Report on “risk cultures” in the context of disasters - CARISMAND
- pdf, 1.8 MB
- Deliverable 5.4: Report on Citizens’ Reactions and Opinions: Citizen Summit 2 (Malta) - CARISMAND
- pdf, 2.4 MB
- Deliverable 6.1: Report on European fundamental rights in disaster situations - CARISMAND
- pdf, 2.2 MB
- Deliverable 6.2: Report on fundamental rights in disaster situations in selected national legislations - CARISMAND
- pdf, 3.6 MB
- Deliverable 7.1: Report on literature review - CARISMAND
- pdf, 2.5 MB
- Deliverable 7.2: Report on linkages between empowerment practices and specific socio-economic and environmental contexts - CARISMAND
- pdf, 1.7 MB
- Deliverable 7.3: Report on cultural factors and citizen empowerment - CARISMAND
- pdf, 2.4 MB
- Deliverable 8.1: Report on risk communication models and best-practices in disaster management - CARISMAND
- pdf, 2.5 MB
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