Access and use of road/transport infrastructure (e.g. accessibility of settlements in isolated areas, general quality of public transport systems) and access to health services (quality and availability) play a particularly important role in disaster management.


Poor road/transport infrastructure in isolated areas are not only a problem in themselves, but may also lead to perceptions of autonomy (and reduced willingness to relocate) amongst local populations. If such areas become inaccessible due to a disaster, this can impede an adequate response in particular for the evacuation of, e.g., physically disadvantaged people.

Limited access to health services may lead to perceptions of health discrimination (e.g. of people living in certain areas, or belonging to certain cultural groups) and distrust. In case of a disaster, this can impede a timely recovery for injured individuals amongst such groups.

Active citizens are members of the communities that are, or could be, part of local disaster management networks. They develop different roles concerning each disaster phase and are essential for delivering information or intervene as they are highly trusted by other members of their social group.

A set of behavioural norms that are generally considered appropriate for individuals of a specific age in a society or group. In many cultures, they are related to stereotypes of aging, depicting e.g. later life as a time of loneliness, dependency, and poor physical and mental health. Other cultures place more emphasis on age related wealth, wisdom and rational behaviour, and acknowledge older people as the main “owners” of a local community’s collective history.


Active pensioners: Members of active retirement groups (see, e.g. Active Retirement Ireland Associations) provide peer support and set up networks for capacity building and information sharing. These groups can play an important role as intermediaries for information and training in disaster preparedness and response.

Older people as holders of collective memory: In Italy, these have been shown to be the members of a community who best know the potential effects of a landslide and how to avoid such disasters.

In its broadest sense, attitude towards authority indicates the degree of approval or disapproval with which an individual views different institutional authorities. More specifically, these attitudes can be characterized by, e.g., acceptance of authoritarianism, trust, distrust, prejudice or hostility, and they can differ depending on the type of institution (e.g. police, military, church, NGO, local, national, international).


In societies with a history of authoritarian regimes, people may distrust certain institutions but will still follow their guidance rather than question instructions and take up own initiatives. However, some groups of the population may come from a different historical background and will follow guidance, e.g. in case of a disaster, only if they trust the respective disaster management authority.

In complex democratic societies, it may be difficult for citizens to understand which authorities, actually, hold authority in a given situation.

Beyond the “formal” level, a local mayor may hold authority from a legal point of view, but in the local context he is unable to exercise it, because there are other powers (which may be informal) that are stronger.

The way people view issues such as climate change (and related environmental effects), settling in earthquake-prone zones or flood plains, and related measures such as embanking.

For example, an attitude which incorporates the belief that it is important to inform oneself about the effects of climate change on people’s everyday lives will allow for better preparedness, e.g. for more frequent heat-waves or avalanches. Additionally, it may help encourage civic activism, i.e. informing and helping others, e.g. elderly family members or senior citizens in their neighbourhood when a heat-wave (or other natural hazards) occurs.

Attitudes towards the media may depend on the respective type of media, i.e. “traditional” such as print media, radio, television, or social media, but also on the situation the respective media channel is used for.

For example, whereas, in some societies, the “traditional” media used to be linked to public institutions and, therefore, are not trusted, social media may be perceived as “democratic” information networks which do not claim to exclusively transmit truth, but are seen to be more immune against one-sided political propaganda. For disaster management, making use of social media not as a mere one-directional information channel but as a “democratic information platform” that allows authority-citizen, citizen-authority and citizen-citizen communication may hold the potential of more trustful relationships.

Communication encompasses the provision, sharing and exchange of information, using different means/media.


Communication style: Whereas, in disaster management, a more linear and direct style may be applied, in certain cultural groups it may be more effective to use relational engagement and contextual discussion, in particular for engagement in preparedness measures.

Communication type: Non-verbal communication, i.e. body language and gestures, can lead to misinterpretation if the recipient is not aware of its culture-specific meaning. E.g., slowly shaking one’s head back and forth sideways does not always mean “no” but, rather signals “I’m listening” in some Indian communities.

Communication channel: Using social media may seem not be the first choice for disaster risk communication in areas with a high proportion of elderly citizens, but if, e.g., such local communities are active in offering specific computer courses for senior citizens, it may be possible to suggest to the organisers to use the social media sites of emergency services as practical examples in their courses.

Cultural factors consist of beliefs, attitudes, values and their associated behavior, that are shared by a significant number of people in hazard-affected places [1] as 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.

They build upon the broad definition of culture generally used within the CARISMAND project. However, the list also includes a number of socio-cultural factors (e.g., socio-economic status, educational system, social control, and social exclusion) as these are densely related to attitudes and perceptions and can, often, provide the “structural” conditions for shaping cultural factors that are of concern in disaster management. Additionally, the decision to include these socio-cultural factors explicitly respects the fact that, in the past, most studies conducted valuable research on these factors, and whilst CARISMAND aims to go beyond state-of-the art and provide a stronger focus on culture, integrating social aspects which have been found to be influential (and linked to cultural aspects) benefits and enriches the Toolkit.

[1] World Disasters Report 2014

A tradition is a belief or behaviour with origins in the past, passed down within a group or society, with symbolic meaning or special significance. It can have evolved and persisted for a long period of time, but it can also have been invented on purpose over short periods of time, e.g. for political reasons.

Customs are habits that are common and followed by members of a group or a society. If a custom is handed over from generation to generation over a period of time it becomes a tradition.

Rituals are ceremonial customs or traditions in a, usually (but not necessarily), religious context.

For example, traditional “machoism” may prevent young men in certain groups or societies from heeding hazard warnings in order not to appear weak amongst their peers. At the same time, actively using mobile phone technology is a “new tradition” and a status symbol amongst these peers. Therefore, implementing mobile hazard alert apps may positively affect these groups’ risk acceptance and risk behaviour.

Demographic variables refer to data that are statistically socio-economic in nature such as population, race, income, education and employment, which represent specific geographic locations and are often associated with time [1].

[1] https://www.techopedia.com/definition/30326/demographic-data

The density of active citizenship shows how many citizens take up an active role in their local community or society. Such initiatives and responsibility can range from small campaigns of cleaning up roads in the neighbourhood to regular volunteering in charitable organisations.


Girls/Boys Scouts: In cooperation with emergency services, the leaders of Girls/Boys Scouts groups may incorporate disaster response training in their activities.

Presence of many civil society organizations (CSOs): In communities where there are many citizens involved in CSOs, it has been found that citizens tend to be also more “active” in disaster management activities and more “responsive” to input from disaster managers.

Disaster is regarded as a serious disruption (a crisis situation) of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources. [1]

[1] Red Cross Foundation

The set of capacities needed to generate and disseminate timely and meaningful warning information to enable individuals, communities and organizations threatened by a hazard to prepare and to act appropriately and in sufficient time to reduce the possibility of harm or loss. [1]

[1] https://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/terminology

An educational system commonly comprises several phases: primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education. It also encompasses the availability of public and private schooling, entry level requirements, minimum years of compulsory schooling, possibilities of home schooling etc.


In countries where it is legal for parents not to send their children to school but can educate them at home, these children may miss out on extra-curricular activities and training offered by schools that focus on disaster response.

In some educational systems, the organisation of and participation in emergency first response courses during primary and/or secondary education is compulsory and free of charge.

Emergency medical services, also known as ambulance services or paramedic services are a type of emergency service dedicated to providing out-of-hospital acute medical care, transport to definitive care, and other medical transport to patients with illnesses and injuries which prevent the patient from transporting themselves. [1]


Entrepreneurs are economic actors active at the local level that could be involved in local disaster management networks. They can provide economic and human support accordingly to the nature of activity, size and level of involvement. Ownership and area of operation can be local, national or international.

Ethnicity denotes groups that share a common identity-based ancestry, and it is often based on race, religion, beliefs, and customs as well as memories of migration or colonisation.

For example, some ethnic minority groups have been found to be less prepared for disasters, e.g. having insufficient medication supplies or no emergency evacuation plan. However, such hazard vulnerability has been found to be more linked to minority-related socio-economic inequalities (e.g. education) rather than to ethnicity itself.

The European Civil Protection Mechanism was established in 2001 to foster cooperation among national civil protection authorities across Europe. It enables a more rapid and effective response to emergencies by coordinating the delivery of civil protection teams and assets to the affected country and population. [1]

[1] Taken from CARISMAND WP2 'Actors, Systems, Processes, Policies in Disaster Management', Task 2.1 'Actors in Disaster Management'. For more information, please follow the link.

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