Due to different definitions used in disaster-related literature, for the purpose of this Toolkit the main terms used are defined below. The full Glossary can also be downloaded in a .pdf format (see User Guide Section).
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.