“Culture And RISk management in Man-made And Natural Disasters” (CARISMAND) aimed to deal with issues of preparedness, response to disasters and after-crisis recovery which are, inevitably, influenced by the cultural background of individuals and the society they live in. Cultural factors play an important role in determining the way people response to stress, engage in crisis management and accept disaster relief in an emergency. A disaster management which is aware, respects, and makes use of local cultural aspects will be not only more effective but, at the same time, also improve the community’s disaster coping capacities.

CARISMAND provided an in-depth multi-disciplinary review of state-of-the-art knowledge, previous and on-going EU research, integrating the academic expertise from the fields of cultural and social anthropology, cognitive science, sociology, science and technology studies, law, victimology, and natural sciences; and identified cultural factors, exploring existing gaps and opportunities for improvement of disaster policies and procedures. It also developed a comprehensive toolkit for practitioners and disaster managers that could help in raising cultural awareness, promote culturally informed best-practices, and support citizens in exploring their individual and communal cultural strengths in the preparation for, response to, and recovery from disasters.

CARISMAND incorporated the experience of practitioners and disaster managers from different local and organisational backgrounds, and innovative public-private initiatives which are based upon and track citizens’ active role in the distribution of information about disasters. The project placed at its very core the continuous information exchange with and between disaster management stakeholders and citizens, through three Stakeholder Assemblies and six large-scale Citizen Summits in different European locations.

CARISMAND’s overall objective was to identify cultural factors [1] 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 CARISMAND 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 [2a] – and the experiences and expectations of citizens collected during the six Citizen Summits [3], this collation of practical, scientific and “lay” knowledge will provide 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. For example, the American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Event Toolkit [4] provides resources targeted at a variety of audiences, including citizens, community leaders and children. This online toolkit provides, amongst other features, links to preparedness checklists, guidance on how to successfully host preparedness events and a catalogue of useful resources and associations. As another example, the US Department of Homeland Security offers a Preparedness Toolkit [5] which takes a community-focused approach and offers specific resources such as a Citizen Corps Council.

The CARISMAND Toolkit differs from these examples 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 will also take 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.

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 - 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 - available at https://culturalmap.carismand.eu;

all together referred to as the CARISMAND Toolkit.

The initial set of recommendations (published 30.09.2018) has already been validated during the last round of public events, namely: Third Stakeholder Assembly, 27-28 February 2018, Lisbon, Potugal; Fifth Citizen Summit, 14 April 2018, Lisbon, Potugal; and Sixth Citizen Summit, 12 May 2018, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The maintainance and further development of the Toolkit has been undertaken by SMURD Foundation after the official ending of the CARISMAND project.

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

[2a] Romania, 14-15 April 2016; Italy, 27-28 February 2017; and Portugal, 27-28 February 2018.

[3] Romania, 9 July 2016; Malta, 16 July 2016; Italy, 17 June 2017; Germany, 24 June 2017; Portugal, 14 April 2018; and the Netherlands, 12 May 2018.

[4] American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Event Toolkit

[5] US Department of Homeland Security Preparedness Toolkit