Limit cases of power abuse by protecting whistle-blowers and encouraging the formation of advocacy and/or pressure groups


Disaster inquiries must include a thorough examination of events, including negative acts such as bypassed procedures and undue risks taken. In some cases, the individuals who would have spoken up have been prevented to do so because of a wide variety of reasons. For these inquires to be effective and implicitly reduce the chance that such events would occur again and/or to limit the impact of the disaster it is important for individuals to speak up external to the organisations, therefore becoming whistle-blowers. To ensure that this occurs, such individuals must benefit from protection.

Applicable to:

Stakeholders: Policy Makers, Disaster Managers

Disaster Phases: Preparedness, Response, Recovery

Types of Actors Concerned: Non-active citizens, Active citizens, NGOs, Law enforcement agencies, Media

Hazards: Natural hazards, Man-made non-intentional hazards or emergency situations, Man-made intentional hazards

Cultural Map Entries:

General factors regarding the disaster preparedness stage

Social networks in the context of the Haiti disaster

Producing confusion and uncertainty to exploit power relations

The crippled response effort concerning the Exxon-Valdez oil spill

Power abuse and communication

Implementation steps:

A. Integrate whistle-blowing as part of your natural systems and procedures, and codes of practice assist in this regard as long as they are more than window-dressing.

B. Integrate plans to identify and manage abuses of power, in order to better mitigate and contain disaster impact.

C. Encourage the formation advocacy or pressure groups in the response stage as an effective means of ensuring “checks and balanced” on power, minimising and containing harm.


Further reading:

Figueroa, P. M. (2013). Risk communication surrounding the Fukushima nuclear disaster: an anthropological approach. ASIA EUROPE JOURNAL, 11(1), 53-64.

Vinten, G. (2000). Whistleblowing towards disaster prevention and management. Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, 9(1), 18-28. doi:10.1108/09653560010316032.