What is the CARISMAND Toolkit about?
The CARISMAND Toolkit is conceived as a ‘born-digital’ product. While it is capable of being delivered and accessed as a traditional paper document, it is, in essence, an electronic tool designed from the ground up to be accessed primarily and even, as may be convenient to the user, exclusively through electronic means. Indeed, it - to a very considerable extent - consist of print-out of all the various pages and documents that are placed in electronic format in both a structured and unstructured manner. Moreover, the paper version understandably cannot deliver the functionality embedded into the electronic version which, thanks to extensive use of hyperlinks and structured database functionality, would enable searches to be carried out both in free text and keyword mode options.
In terms of content, the Toolkit is composed of two main components:
a formal set of recommendations for stakeholders at all levels (disaster managers, policy makers, citizens) that include the implementation and/or improvement of policies and guidelines, educational measures, and a roadmap for further knowledge transfer activities (Recommendations Section, available at http://toolkit.carismand.eu); and
a comprehensive “cultural map” for formal and “informal” disaster managers as well as for interested citizens, which is available online, downloadable, and adaptable to their individual or institutional needs (Cultural Map, available at https://culturalmap.carismand.eu/);
all together referred to as the CARISMAND Toolkit.
The CARISMAND Toolkit seeks to meet the needs of various cultural groups during disaster relief, towards improving reaction time and reducing fatalities and, ultimately, increasing the overall effectiveness of those who respond to disasters. For this reason, identifying which cultural factors, important insights, and specific communication styles for a given cultural group should be taken into consideration during disaster situations is essential.
Furthermore, specific focus is put on exploring how to anticipate and identify solutions to cultural problems that may arise in the event of an emergency. By analysing how emotional, psychological and social needs, as well as communal strengths and coping skills that arise in disasters, can affect the way urban, peri-urban and rural communities prepare, respond, engage in and recover from disaster, the project (via the Toolkit) provides a framework for improving disaster management policies and practices through proactively targeting the needs of citizens and communities as well as disaster managers such as first responders and local security agencies.
With respect to the above, the purpose of the CARISMAND Toolkit is to develop carefully formulated information, education and dissemination materials and strategies which will help avoiding stereotyping and building upon social cohesion within, and across cultures.
CARISMAND’s overall project objective is to identify cultural factors in disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, reveal existing gaps and explore opportunities for using these cultural factors to improve disaster policies, guidelines, processes and procedures. Accordingly, the Toolkit represents a key deliverable of the CARISMAND project, as it develops a comprehensive knowledge base for practitioners, citizens and policy-makers which provides concrete ideas, examples and recommendations for culturally-aware practices in disaster contexts.
To achieve this goal, the Toolkit development follows a broad, multi-disciplinary approach. On the one hand, it incorporates proposed solutions developed within the continuous feedback-loop between disaster management stakeholders and citizens throughout the project’s life cycle. On the other hand, it is shaped and informed by the ongoing research carried out by project partners with expertise in a large variety of fields, ranging from Cognitive Science, Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology to IT and Law, effectively collating a wide range of viewpoints, knowledges and approaches. Together with the expertise of disaster management practitioners – project partners as well as participants of the three stakeholder assemblies – and the experiences and expectations of citizens collected during the six citizen summits, this collation of practical, scientific and “lay” knowledge provides both the backbone and the multiple layers of the CARISMAND Toolkit.
There are already a number of toolkits in existence which focus on disaster planning. However, very few of these, if any, take into consideration cultural factors or the needs of specific cultural groups to/by whom such toolkits, or the included tools, may be applied. The CARISMAND Toolkit differs in that it focuses specifically on cultural factors which may vary in their impact depending on the respective actors involved, the specific types of hazards or disasters, and the respective disaster phases (prevention, preparedness, response and recovery). In addition, it is not restricted to preventative risk management and/or immediate disaster response but also takes into consideration long term actions that are aiming to enable different communities to be more disaster resilient. Accordingly, the CARISMAND Toolkit allows interested parties (disaster managers, citizens, policy-makers) to search and access information which may be relevant to a specific cultural context, to their specific area of expertise, to different disaster situations, or a combination of choices.
The information, of which the Toolkit is composed, is structured in four pillars:
Actors involved in disaster management;
Disaster phases: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery; and
Cultural factors: the CARISMAND team was able to extract, group and agree on cultural and socio-demographic factors that are involved in altering the expected response in population for disaster management.
The information obtained was then linked between the four pillars of information in order to set up a relational tree between actors – disaster (type and phase) – cultural factors. Not all actors are concerned with a specific disaster phase, not all disaster managing procedures will be influenced in the same way by a certain cultural factor, thus enabling the toolkit to be customizable so it can target the specific information needed.
The team leaders of each of the CARISMAND areas of research – disaster management processes, information technologies, legal aspects and human rights protection, quantitative and qualitative sociological research, citizens empowerment, risk perception and risk cultures, risk communication and the role of the media in risk communication; provides statements in the form of recommendations derived from their knowledge domain within the CARISMAND research. These statements followed specific rules with regards to content and format, i.e. each statement must be evidence based, statements must summarise a well research objective from the project deliverable, the research for the purpose of formulating a statement should follow the “PICO” model for research , etc. The content on each statement should be formulated in such a way that the strength of the recommendation should be linked to the certainty of the evidence is based upon. Also, the statement should focus or be derived on at least one of the cultural factors  identified within the CARISMAND research, or if is regarded an additional cultural factor that is not yet identified, steps were taken to ensure its discussion and potential acknowledgement by the CARISMAND team.
One of the tasks in achieving the objectives for the CARISMAND project was of course to study the common practices, laws and guidelines used in different countries for disaster prevention, response and recovery measures, and so, when providing the recommendations for the CARISMAND Toolkit, this was also an issue that weighted heavily in the final outcome.
Each of these statements was then evaluated and served as a basis for the final set of recommendations currently being part of the Recommendations Section. For more information on the methodology of designing the Toolkit, please check ‘How was the Toolkit designed?’.
 The PICO model for research seeks to answer four main questions: (1) how would I describe a population similar to mine?; (2) which main intervention, prognostic factor, or exposure am I considering?; (3) what is the main alternative to compare with the intervention?; and (4) what can I hope to accomplish, measure, improve, or affect?
 Cultural factors consist of beliefs, attitudes, values and their associated behavior, that are shared by a significant number of people in hazard-affected placesas previously stated in this deliverable. The following list provides a number of cultural factors which have either been found, or hold the potential, to play an important role in disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery: 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, socio-economic status, educational system, density of active citizenship, social networks, social control, social exclusion, and access and use of infrastructures/ services. Full description of each cultural factor is provided in the Toolkit Glossary.
Each statement, provided by the respective team leaders of each of the CARISMAND areas of research,  underwent an initial process of “peer review” (step 1) by disaster management practitioners in the CARISMAND team. After the content of more than 450 recommendations was documented and agreed upon, they were further graded (step 2) based on WHO (World Health Organization) scale for medical recommendations that was tweaked in order to meet the needs on the CARISMAND project. In general, the grading scale followed two main goals for each recommendation: the format of the recommendation, and the level of evidence that supports the recommendation.
Once graded, the recommendations were divided in topics (step 3) and in levels of implementation and/or significance (step 4). The selection process produced the so called main recommendations and their implementation steps. Those recommendations that gave a clear and documented statement on “how to” were considered main recommendations. Those recommendations that provided more general statements and/or specific implementations steps were listed as such. A process of linking main recommendation to the proper implementation steps took place.
Once selected, the main recommendations for concerned stakeholders, together with the implementation steps that should clarify the process of applying the Toolkit to a specific population, formed the basis of the first layer of the Toolkit. The selected general recommendations and implementation steps, in the end, also went through a peer review to ensure the quality of the information provided (step 5).
The final step of the Toolkit development (step 6) concerned the accessible and user friendly representation of the recommendations in a unified format (i.e. ‘wiki page’ format) online format. The wiki page contains the general recommendations and their implementation steps, but it also includes beneficiaries (stakeholders) and actors concerned, disaster phase and type, applicable cultural factors as well as the source of the recommendations and additional reading concerning topic of the recommendations.
During the last three steps the correlations between recommendations and cultural factors (or specific short findings related to a certain cultural factor, also known as a Cultural Map entries) were identified and this provided the links between the Recommendations Section and the Cultural Map.
The CARISMAND Grant Agreement’s requirements foreseen the extension the life of the CARISMAND platform and the related tools (Toolkit and Cultural Map) for a minimum of 10 (ten) years after the project’s closure.
Following an evaluation of the overall structure of the tools and the potential use by third parties, SMURD Foundation – a partner in the CARISMAND project, committed to undertake the necessary means to ensure the support for the continuous maintenance of the CARISMAND Platform and the related tools within the years to come upon the formal project end being 30 September 2018.
A board of experts, i.e. the Toolkit Editorial Board, has been designated to be responsible with the assessment of the further research input and the overall guidance on the CARISMAND Toolkit continuous development and the sustainable exploitation of its results.
New research input, links to crowd-sourced information and up-to-date information sources related to disaster management will help populate this online platform and be continuously refreshed over its lifespan.