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Developing a “culture of disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view

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Abstract

This study investigated the potential for citizens developing “cultures of disaster preparedness”, which are informed by citizens’ values and experiences rather than imposed from “above”. Based on previous research we conducted during Citizen Summits in Romania, Malta, Italy and Germany, we developed a set of recommendations, which were evaluated during two final Citizen Summits held in Portugal and the Netherlands, using an electronic audience response system and focus group discussions. The results point at three main strategies, which can be expected to foster a “soft” cultural change towards disaster preparedness over time: (1) encouraging measures that build upon already existing cultural values and daily routines; (2) organising preparedness-related activities that are designed as part of citizens’ everyday-life events; and (3) improving perceived self-efficacy by demonstrating how citizens’ already existing, personal everyday skills can be harnessed in disaster situations.
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Developing a “culture of disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view
Sandra Appleby-Arnold, Noellie Brockdorff, Celia Callus
PII: S2212-4209(21)00099-6
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2021.102133
Reference: IJDRR 102133
To appear in: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Received Date: 24 January 2020
Revised Date: 3 September 2020
Accepted Date: 11 February 2021
Please cite this article as: S. Appleby-Arnold, N. Brockdorff, C. Callus, Developing a “culture of
disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, https://
doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2021.102133.
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Developing a “culture of disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view
Sandra Appleby-Arnold
a1
, Noellie Brockdorff
b
, Celia Callus
c
a Department of Cognitive Science, Faculty of Media & Knowledge Science, University of Malta, Msida MSD2080, Malta
b Department of Cognitive Science, Faculty of Media & Knowledge Science, University of Malta, Msida MSD2080, Malta,
noellie.brockdorff@um.edu.mt
c Nutcracker Research, 67 Kensington Road, Northolt UB5 6AW, United Kingdom, celia@nutcrackerresearch.com
1
Present address: School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, 15a George Square, Edinburgh EH8
9LD, UK, sandra.appleby-arnold@ed.ac.uk
Corresponding Author:
Sandra Appleby-Arnold; School of Social and Political Science; 15a George Square; Edinburgh EH8
9LD; United Kingdom; sandra.appleby-arnold@ed.ac.uk
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Developing a “culture of disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view
Abstract
This study investigated the potential for citizens developing “cultures of disaster preparedness”,
which are informed by citizens’ values and experiences rather than imposed from “above”. Based on
previous research we conducted during Citizen Summits in Romania, Malta, Italy and Germany, we
developed a set of recommendations, which were evaluated during two final Citizen Summits held in
Portugal and the Netherlands, using an electronic audience response system and focus group
discussions. The results point at three main strategies, which can be expected to foster a “soft”
cultural change towards disaster preparedness over time: (1) encouraging measures that build upon
already existing cultural values and daily routines; (2) organising preparedness-related activities that
are designed as part of citizens’ everyday-life events; and (3) improving perceived self-efficacy by
demonstrating how citizens’ already existing, personal everyday skills can be harnessed in disaster
situations.
1. Introduction
Despite decades of disaster and emergency management authorities aiming to improve citizens’
awareness of hazards, preparedness levels have been found to be generally low amongst
populations around the globe. In response, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (2016) called
for researchers to shift their emphasis towards a stronger focus on a “culture of prevention”, in
addition to the more established, and equally important, focus on the role of culture in disaster
response and recovery (e.g., Huang et al., 2015; Field, 2017). The large body of research targeting
factors such as local knowledge, rituals, values and norms, gender roles, collective memory,
livelihoods, social cohesion, social exclusion, or trust in authorities, has revealed the power of these
factors in disaster mitigation (Krüger et al., 2015). Many of these studies take place outside Europe’s
largest cities, and it seems to be an unspoken assumption that, in small-scale settlements or rural
areas, shared values can be activated for an enhanced disaster resilience. However, with few
exceptions (e.g., EDUCEN, 2017), in large urban centres the effects on the population’s resilience of
social rather than cultural factors
1
are explored (e.g., Martin 2015; Armaş & Gavriş 2016). But
cultural change is encased within many aspects of life, such as attitudes towards technology (e.g.,
Tan et al., 2017), or the roles of children or senior citizens in disasters, shifting from passive victims
to active responders (e.g., Mort et al., 2017, 2018). At the same time, large urban areas are,
typically, densely populated environments where different groups do not necessarily collide, but
may co-exist alongside visible or invisible boundaries, due to perceived cultural differences, which
set them apart. To develop a standardised “culture of disaster preparedness” in such multicultural
settings may well be seen as a daunting task. Even more so as history has shown that imposing new
norms or values upon groups or societies rarely fares well. However, does that mean that a cultural
perspective in disaster research has to be mostly observational, or are there opportunities to
“operationalise” culture and cultural factors for an improved disaster preparedness?
2. Overview: Cultural factors in disaster preparedness
1
For the purpose of this study, the definition of “culture” by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies (IFRC) is used, which outlines culture as a set of “beliefs, attitudes, values and their
associated behaviours that are shared by a significant number of people in hazard-affected places” (IFRC
2014). In contrast, social factors describe societies and their segments, e.g., education or income levels.
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There is a blurred boundary between “the social” and “the cultural”. Some factors, e.g., values and
traditions, are easily identifiable as cultural. In other cases, though, the differentiation is not as clear.
For example, factors like socio-economic status are densely entwined with people’s attitudes and
perceptions, and can often provide the “structural” conditions for shaping cultural factors that are of
concern in disaster preparedness. When exploring behavioural strategies among residents in high-
risk areas in Israel and the factors that may influence these behaviours, Shapira and colleagues
(2018) identified a relationship between these residents’ disaster preparedness and their financial
resources. But the availability of financial resources has also a direct effect on livelihoods, and
previous research (e.g., IFRC, 2014) has demonstrated how people develop unique narratives to
bridge the gap between hazard risk, the need for appropriate disaster preparedness, and the lack of
resources to do so. Such strategies to overcome cognitive dissonance are inherently cultural, being
part of the human desire to “make sense” of people’s lives and the world around them.
Behaviour related to such strategies may provide the foundation for hypotheses that people who
expect a negative disaster outcome will not engage in hazards preparedness, whereas people who
expect a positive outcome will engage (Jang et al., 2016). It also confirms the link identified between
preparedness and perceived self-efficacy related to both natural (Poussin et al., 2014; Tang & Feng,
2018) and man-made hazards (Wirtz & Rohrbeck, 2017). However, such models do not sit well with
findings in other locations with a ‘state-oriented risk culture’ (Cornia et al., 2016), where citizens do
not see a need to engage in hazard preparedness themselves because they perceive taking
preparedness measures as the responsibility of public authorities
2
. Such projection of preparedness
responsibilities to others on the one hand, or the aforementioned lack of resources on the other
hand, are examples for the so-called ‘risk perception paradox’ (Wachinger et al., 2013), where
individuals, despite their high levels of risk perception, rarely take increased preparedness actions.
To address the issue of financial resources, researchers have pointed at encouraging measures that
require less financial involvement, e.g., fixing heavy objects to a wall for earthquake preparedness,
and begin with easy-to-adapt items, e.g. emergency kits, before progressing to more complex, or
expensive, items (see, e.g., Shapira et al., 2018). Russo and Rindone (2014) suggest a similar strategy
for education and training activities, where the content of education and training activities should
gradually transition from discussion-based to operation-based exercises.
Although Russo and Rindone predominantly target disaster preparedness training for practitioners,
such a progressive strategy also points at the important role of communication-focused activities for
citizens, which may precede and encourage participation in, e.g., physical skills training. In this
context, Jang and colleagues (2016) argue that the higher the frequency of ‘thinking of and talking
about’ a disaster amongst community members, the higher their hazard preparedness intention and
feelings of empowerment. The research of Wirtz and Rohrbeck (2017) revealed that perceived self-
efficacy has a medium influence on taking up preparedness activities, but they found a strong
influence of knowing others who have taken action to prepare themselves.
Such concepts often draw on concepts of community that relate to groups of individuals who share
not only a physical location, but are also assumed to have common interests, needs and aspirations
due to their sharing of a specific physical space. More often, though, communities are “collections of
competing interests” (Peacock et al., 2000) and, despite being exposed to a specific local hazard,
they may not share the same sense of risk (Wachtendorf et al., 2018). Accordingly, community
2
Cornia and colleagues (2016) identified such state-oriented risk cultures for Sweden, Austria and Germany.
For the Netherlands, they identified signs of both a state-oriented and an individual-oriented risk culture, with
Dutch citizens’ strong trust in public authorities and their coping capabilities, but also concepts of self-reliance
and self-confidence in their personal ability to respond to disaster risks and disaster situations.
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cohesion may have a positive effect due to perceived responsibility for others, which “spills over”
into preparedness activities (DeYoung & Peters, 2016), and, particularly in combination with local
knowledge, it can play a life-saving role (Moreno et al., 2019). But it cannot be taken for granted.
To build or strengthen community cohesion, researchers have also pointed at the usefulness of
drawings and storytelling to access memories which were otherwise suppressed, allowing not only
the narration to reveal intangible strengths, e.g., neighbourhood help, but also the narrator’s
willingness to collaborate (Galarza-Villamar et al., 2018). The shaping of collective memory and,
thus, shared identity amongst a local community, is likely to contribute to its disaster resilience
(Kronmüller et al., 2017) and may be encouraged by organising, e.g., community workshops which
specifically promote such activities.
However, generating shared identity may not only serve to strengthen community cohesion to
encourage disaster preparedness. Understanding disasters also as inter-group encounters,
identification processes play a similarly important role in the relationships between emergency
responders and citizens, resulting in increased public cooperation and compliance. Studies have
shown that such identification was achieved through open and timely communication including
explanations about the actions responders were taking (Carter et al., 2018), and with a specific
emphasis on bi-directional information exchange between citizens and authorities (Cohen et al.,
2017). Here, emergency drills and disaster scenario exercises that involve both practitioners and
citizens may thus improve not only perceived self-efficacy through skills training, but also improve
knowledge of, and compliance with, preparedness response procedures through shared identity and
mutual trust.
It has been argued that one of the strongest motivators for citizens’ disaster preparedness is direct
and recent disaster experience (see, e.g., Onuma et al., 2017). But, as Becker and colleagues (2017)
have outlined, it is a particular challenge to encourage disaster preparedness behaviour in people
who have only vicarious disaster experience or life experience (e.g., personal or family-related health
emergencies, car accidents). Accordingly, they studied the effects on disaster preparedness of
different forms of prior experience, i.e., direct, indirect, vicarious disaster experience and life
experience. Whereas their results confirmed previous findings that direct experience is the strongest
motivator, they also found that vicarious experience can trigger an increased willingness to pay
attention to hazard-related issues, including thinking and talking about hazard issues, assisting with
understanding the consequences of future events, and helping with the formation of beliefs about
hazards and preparedness. Further, their research revealed that life experiences help inform
people's interpretations and decisions about hazards and preparedness. To make hazards relevant to
the general public, they suggested practitioners may consider reinforcing the general idea that
“preparedness is a way of life” (Becker et al., 2017).
A recent comparative study in Japan focusing on three structurally different urban locations
explored how such idea may be, or already has been, put into practice (Kitagawa, 2019). Calling it
“everyday-life preparedness”, preparedness activities in Kitagawa’s concept need to be embedded
into what communities already do in building a sense of belonging. “Everyday”, here, does not refer
to thinking about and engaging in disaster preparedness every single day, but it aims to embed
preparedness-related thinking and activities in daily life without even calling them disaster
preparedness. Kitagawa identified such activities in all three of the chosen settings. For example,
residents of a very large block of apartments introduced a “greeting campaign” to get to know each
other as a foundation for trust-building, and they developed a system where they could register
their skills and capabilities to help each other in everyday-life situations, but also in case of
emergencies. In another location, residents organised summer BBQ’s where they practised cooking
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for a very large group of people, which was also seen to be useful for emergency situations. Another
example demonstrated how “urban farming” can be useful as a community practice for disaster
preparedness by integrating elderly and children via crop-growing in urban allotments. Kitagawa
concluded that direct disaster experience is not necessarily relevant in these everyday-life
preparedness activities, which combine community development with disaster preparedness
building.
However, it remains somewhat unclear to what extent citizens are aware of this potential to develop
such disaster preparedness, which requires little extra time or costs. Although it may be questioned
whether awareness is necessary as long as these bottom-up activities just “happen”, there are other
skills and knowledge that do require a conscious effort, even if it is a small one such as having an
emergency kit or a personal emergency plan. Additionally, perceived self-efficacy is an important
motivational factor for citizens’ disaster preparedness, and it is a process, which is likely to start with
easy-to-adapt behaviours, build up via communication-focused activities where sharing knowledge
and experience enhances taking up responsibility for others. This, in turn, may encourage
participation in skills training and more complex preparedness measures. But whereas both
researchers and practitioners have recognised these different measures as useful, there has yet
been little opportunity for citizens to discuss and, depending on their attitudes, perceptions and life
situations, to prioritise, or to “pick and choose”. Accordingly, this study used the research format of
Citizen Summits to identify in different European locations the potential for “cultures of
preparedness” which are determined from below, rather than from above.
3. Methodology
The research reported here is part of a project
3
, conducted over a period of three years, aimed to,
methodologically, bridge the gap between practitioners and “lay” citizens, understanding their
different perspectives as complementary. Accordingly, between 2016 and 2018 a series of events
was organised, which consisted of three Stakeholder Assemblies and six Citizen Summits. Its cyclical
character
4
, with the findings from each event shaping the content of the next, allowed for a
progression of ideas co-created by disaster practitioners and citizens. The synthesised results of this
process were moulded into a set of recommendations for citizens
5
, which were presented and
evaluated in the last two Citizen Summits, held in 2018 in Portugal and the Netherlands.
6
3
CARISMAND (Culture And RISk management in Man-made And Natural Disasters) is a research project co-
funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme (2014-2020), Grant Agreement
Number 653748, which aimed to explore the relationships between disaster risk perception, culture and
(disaster-related) behaviour.
4
In 2016, the first Stakeholder Assembly was held in Bucharest, Romania, followed by two Citizen Summits in
Romania and Malta. In 2017, the second Stakeholder Assembly was organised in Rome, Italy and followed
again by two Citizen Summits held in Italy and Germany. The final “round” of events in 2018 was held in
Lisbon, Portugal, with subsequent Citizen Summits in Portugal and the Netherlands.
5
These recommendations for citizens “mirror” another set of recommendations that was specifically
developed for practitioners (CARISMAND Deliverable 5.13 Synthesised Stakeholder Assemblies Report,
09/2018).
6
Overall 60 focus group discussions (40 with citizens and 20 with practitioners) shaped the content of the final
set of recommendations that were discussed in Portugal and the Netherlands. In each “round” of Citizen
Summits and Stakeholder Assemblies, part of the discussion topics where chosen based on practices that
citizens and/or practitioners identified as particularly useful in the previous round. This cyclical research design
aimed to foster citizens’ discussion of findings from Stakeholder Assemblies, and practitioners’ discussion of
findings from Citizen Summits. At each round, care was taken to ensure that discussion guides did not bias
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The term “Citizen Summit” has its roots in events organised by governmental institutions or NGO’s,
intending to provide an opportunity for “ordinary” citizens, rather than experts or politicians, to
voice their opinions about issues of public interest. Commonly, these summits include plenary
sessions where participants can use electronic keypads to “vote” on questions placed to the general
audience, and small group discussions led by facilitators. The CARISMAND Citizen Summits followed
this format: Quantitative data collection via an immediate audience response system provided the
basis for qualitative focus group discussions aiming to explore cultures and cultural factors, which
may shape citizens’ disaster-related attitudes, perceptions and behaviours.
The results presented in this study are based on the qualitative data collected during the Citizens
Summits in Portugal and the Netherlands. The Netherlands, on the one hand, are concerned with a
rather high level of exposure to natural hazards (mostly flooding), but characterised by low
vulnerability, low susceptibility, a high level of coping capabilities and advanced adaptive capacities
7
.
Citizens in Portugal, on the other hand, have had very recent experience of serious wildfires, which
incurred a high number of fatalities, and resulted in a public perception that these disasters were
not handled well by the responsible authorities. Accordingly, these locations were chosen to
contrast and compare citizens’ feedback in two settings with very different types and levels of
disaster experience, as well as different perceptions of disaster management and, potentially,
different trust relationships between citizens and authorities.
Sample composition. Participants for both Citizen Summits were recruited via local research
agencies using a recruitment questionnaire. An industry-standard ‘FreeFind’ approach was used, and
participants were incentivised in line with regular practices for the research location concerned. The
aim of the recruitment questionnaire was to achieve a balanced sample with an even gender and
age distribution
8
, except for a comparatively low number of senior citizens aged 65 and above, which
was expected and reflects mobility issues (see Table 1 below).
Table 1: Sample distribution by gender and age
Citizen
Summit
Location
Gender Age group
Total Female Male
No
answer
18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
No
answer
Portugal 102 55 43 4 16 21 18 24 17 6 0
Netherlands 89 43 44 2 20 19 15 16 13 5 1
Total 191 98 87 6 36 40 33 40 30 11 1
Furthermore, the recruitment criteria included three key aspects of disaster experience and disaster
risk perception (see Table 2 below), to ensure that all levels of experience with disasters were
present in the sample. Gender- and age-related differences in the responses to these questions were
found to be not statistically significant (p>=.05).
participants, and participants were encouraged to discuss both advantages and disadvantages of proposals put
to them.
7
Source: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/world-risk-report-2017; accessed 08/2018.
8
Target quota requested from the recruiting research agencies were a gender split of 50% female / 50% male,
a target age split of 20% 18-24 years, 40% 25-44 years, 40% 45+ years, and a total target of approximately 90-
110 participants per Summit.
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Table 2: Recruitment criteria
The distribution of experience of disasters and risk perceptions in both research sites confirmed that
the Portugal sample was likely to be affected by the recent local events, whereas the Netherlands
sample reflected attitudes that may be shaped by the high level of Dutch disaster authorities’ coping
capabilities.
Although not part of the screening process at recruitment, results from the first part of the Citizen
Summits established that levels of knowledge about what to do in case of a disaster varied between
the two Summits, with 69% of Portuguese and 49% of Dutch participants feeling not informed or not
informed at all about what to do in a disaster (Table 3). Despite these different levels of feeling
informed, feelings of preparedness were very similar with two third of participants (Portugal: 66%;
Netherlands: 63%) feeling not prepared or not prepared at all (Table 4).
Table 3: Feeling informed about what to do in case of a disaster
Table 4: Feeling prepared about what to do in case of a disaster
However, whereas participants in both Summits indicated a high interest in information about
disaster preparedness (Portugal: 92%; Netherlands: 90%; quite interested or very interested), there
were significant differences between the extent to which participants, in the beginning of the
Summit, declared their intentions to prepare for disasters. A large majority of Portuguese
participants (91%) intended to prepare quite a lot or a lot, but comparatively fewer participants in
the Netherlands (28%) planned to do so (Table 5).
Answer=YES
Portugal Netherlands
Experience of disasters:
Have you, or a close friend or family member, ever experienced a disaster? 93% 58%
Feel that living in a disaster area:
Do you feel you are living in an area that is specifically prone to disasters? 57% 21%
Know of vulnerable groups particularly exposed to disasters:
Do you know of any other people in your area where you live who, you think,
are particularly vulnerable or exposed to disaster?
59% 44%
How informed do you feel by the authorities (for example Civil Protection, local
police, emergency services) of what you have to do in case of a disaster? Portugal Netherlands
Not informed at all 22.7% 13.5%
Not informed 46.4% 35.8%
Reasonably informed 24.7% 42.0%
Informed 6.2% 7.4%
Very informed 0.0% 1.2%
How prepared do you personally feel for a disaster in your area? Portugal Netherlands
Not prepared at all 26.0% 24.7%
Not prepared 39.6% 38.3%
Neither unprepared nor prepared 28.1% 27.2%
Prepared 6.3% 7.4%
Very prepared 0.0% 2.4%
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Table 5: Preparedness intentions
Procedure. Each Citizen Summit consisted of a day-long event, held in a central city location to
facilitate participants’ travel arrangements. The Portugal Citizen Summit was held in Lisbon, the
Dutch Citizen Summit was held in Utrecht; in both locations, participants were recruited from the
larger city area
9
. After the plenary morning session, in the afternoon participants were allocated to
groups of eight to eleven participants
10
with an even gender split. All focus group discussions were
moderated by native speakers in Portuguese and Dutch respectively to avoid any language or
education-related access restrictions for participation. All discussions were audio-recorded, fully
transcribed, and the transcripts were translated into English. To ensure the anonymity of
participants, all names and other personal identifiers were removed in this process. Line-by-line
coding of the translated transcripts followed a preliminary coding framework, which had been set up
to allow an initial structuring of the collected data. This initial coding framework was based upon the
structure of the focus group discussion guideline, i.e., general feedback, favourable and
unfavourable reactions to the individual recommendations, barriers, and suggestions for
improvement. The structured results of this first coding permitted the development of a more
refined matrix – an “analytical scaffolding” (Charmaz, 2006). Based on this matrix, the transcripts of
all 20 discussion groups were then recoded and themes were identified, which provided a better
focus on specific attitudes, perceptions and beliefs, revealing participating citizens’ acceptance,
perceived usefulness and relevance of the recommendations presented.
Based on the frequency of these specific findings, a qualitative “rating” (Table 6) was established to
identify those recommendations, which found most support amongst participants.
Table 6: Qualitative “rating” of recommendations
++
A
ll or almost all participants in all groups agre
ed and found the respective recommendation
to be very useful and important.
At least 80% of participants in the respective focus group gave a positive evaluation, and none of the
participants rejected, criticised or made any negative comment to the recommendation.
+
A
majority of participants in most groups agreed
usefulness, with some participants considering it to be difficult to implement in their daily
lives.
At least half +1 of the participants in the respective focus group gave a positive evaluation, and not
more than 30% rejected, criticised or made any negative comment to the recommendation.
+/-
T
he recommendation
had a mixed reception
, i.e.
,
some
of the participants perceiv
ed it as
useful, whereas others felt that it would not be applicable to them (e.g., due to age concerns
or personal circumstances).
An equal number of participants in the respective focus group gave positive and negative comments to
the recommendation.
9
In the Netherlands summit including the city areas of Amsterdam and Groningen.
10
In each summit, two groups consisted of participants aged 18-24, four groups of participants aged 24-44,
and four groups of participants aged 45+. This division into age groups aimed to allow participants to discuss
amongst peers with similar life-experiences.
To what extent do you intend to prepare for disasters? Portugal Netherlands
Prepare not at all 0.0% 6.0%
Prepare very little 1.0% 18.1%
Prepare a bit 8.0% 48.2%
Prepare quite a lot 59.0% 20.5%
Prepare a lot 32.0% 37.2%
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-
A majority of participants in most groups rejected the respective recommendation as not
useful or not applicable to their personal circumstances.
At least half +1 of the participants in the respective focus group gave a negative evaluation, criticised
or made a negative comment to the recommendation.
4. Results & discussion
In Portugal, a great majority of participants across all age groups felt that the development of a
“culture of preparedness” was, generally, desirable. Whilst aware that a change of mindset would
be required for some of the recommendations to be implemented, they also believed that such
cultural change was possible over time. As an example, many explained how attitudes and
behaviours in waste recycling had changed amongst the Portuguese population over the last
decades. In the Netherlands, the data revealed attitudes amongst most participants that oscillated
between inertia and interest. Many felt that it was the Dutch government’s duty to inform citizens
rather than citizens having to gather information themselves. However, some also expressed their
opinion that this responsibility should be shared between citizens and authorities. Additionally, a
majority of Dutch participants expressed their specific interest in information about disaster risks
and preparedness when travelling abroad. In both locations, participants felt that changing the
“little things”, such as reading signs that contain emergency-related information or putting up
emergency numbers with a fridge magnet, and discussing emergency procedures with family
members, promised the highest impact on behavioural change. Further, they expressed their
strongest appreciation, and interest in, community workshops and training events that not only
target learning or refreshing disaster or emergency-related skills, but were also designed to help
improving the participants’ cultural awareness, and develop “cultural skills”.
In the following, we present in detail our findings on the “Top 5” recommendations, which, in both
or at least one of the Citizen Summits, achieved a rating of “++”.
11
4.1 The power of “simple things”
Recommendation 1: Set up personal emergency plans together with your family and friends by
discussing emergency contacts, meeting points, means of communication etc. Use simple
reminders to have these emergency plans and information readily available, e.g., as a pic on your
mobile phone, in your purse, or to stick on the fridge.
This recommendation was perceived by the majority of participants across all age groups in both
Citizen Summits as the, potentially, most impactful, and the most likely to be taken up by
themselves. Participants in the Netherlands ascribed their motivation, and this recommendation’s
expected success, to its perceived ease of implementation in their daily lives:
“I have put this recommendation as my number one. It is very simple and you do not have to
look up all kind of complicated things […] There is a lot of power in this recommendation.”
“Having meetings with your parents and agreeing on meeting places etc. that is very useful,
(…). It is a very simple agreement that can have big consequences.”
“There is not a lot that prevents you from doing it. There is not a lot that you have to do, and
there are no costs involved.”
11
A full list of the discussed recommendations, and their evaluation, can be found in Appendix I.
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“This is it, this is what I would like the government to help me with: I would like them
[disaster management authorities] to tell me these simple things, things that stick with you.”
These quotes confirm the findings of Shapira and colleagues (2018), i.e. that easy-to-adapt measures
– “simple things” which require no financial resources and little time as they can be integrated into
people’s everyday routines – are likely to have the greatest success when initially encouraging
citizens’ disaster preparedness. However, they also point at two further aspects which were not
discussed by Shapira et al.: Firstly, measures like personal emergency plans and family discussions
may be simple (and information about them widely available, e.g. on Civil Protection websites), but
being simple does not mean that they are obvious. Secondly, their adoption is more likely if they are
perceived as generally useful beyond disaster situations, i.e., in everyday life preparedness.
Additionally, everyday life routines like family gatherings are subject to cultural differences
12
. In
Portugal, where almost two thirds of young adults aged 18-34 still live with their parents
13
,
particularly the younger Citizen Summit participants expressed their intention to take the
recommendation up immediately and share it with their family members: “I’m going to talk to my
parents about it”; I’ll leave from here and go home and tell my mother for us to think about it”.
Accordingly, this recommendation may be specifically successful in societies with close family ties
and where several generations are living under one roof: “If there is just one person who pushes for
it at home, I think if there's already good communication at home, things will flow”.
The following recommendation for developing a culture of preparedness received similarly strong
support in both the Portuguese and the Dutch Citizen Summit as, again, a “simple thing that can
make a big difference”.
Recommendation 2: Be on the lookout for publicly displayed information about how to prepare for
emergencies or disasters, e.g., posters and signs in buses, waiting halls, entrance areas of sports
stadiums, shopping centres, concert halls or hotel lobbies. Make a point of reading and
memorising such information, and encourage people who are accompanying you, especially
children, to do the same.
Here, the assumed ease of implementation merges with filling a perceived “void”, by catching
people’s attention in places “where people do nothing”, e.g., in waiting rooms, the subway, or where
people queue. However, participants also outlined that publicly displayed information in such spaces
increasingly competes with information readily available via tablets or smartphones and, thus, needs
to be compelling enough to attract attention. In this context, one Portuguese participant further
elaborated how a smartly worded sign in their workplace had improved awareness amongst staff:
“In my company there is a poster that says ‘When a disaster happens, don’t read the instruction
manual. Read it now.’ It’s such a simple message, and I think many of us have already been to this
safety link”. Generally, though, participants in both summits expressed their awareness, and
willingness, to adapt their behaviour: “I will be paying more attention from now on […] These things
need to become ingrained. It just needs to become a simple fact,” pointing, again, at the power of
“simple things”.
4.2 The power of sharing
12
In this case, “cultural differences” are not to be understood as differences due to nationality, but due to
different cultural factors, like lifestyle and family ties, that are prevailing in different societies.
13
63.4%. In contrast, in the Netherlands only 35% of young adults aged between 18-34 lived with their parents
in 2017; the EU average is 48%; source: http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/submitViewTableAction.do
(accessed 05/2019).
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Recommendation 3: Find out whether there are community workshops in your area on how to
prepare for, and respond to, disasters. If none are organised, ask your local council or civil
protection authority to organise such workshops. Take part in these workshops and use this
opportunity to share your experiences of past disasters; discuss values and traditions that played
an important role in these situations. The active participation in such community workshops will
help community members learn from each other about local hazards and disaster risks, and so
strengthen community spirit for improved community responses in the event of a disaster.
This recommendation relates to Wirtz and Rohrbeck’s findings (2017) that getting to know others via
workshops who have taken action to prepare themselves will foster behavioural change. It was
found to be very useful by the majority of Portuguese participants in most discussion groups,
independent from their age:
“Participating in workshops and sharing experiences - I think it's very important […] in our
country we will always have memories of something that happened.”
“I think it would be useful if there were such workshops. It is precisely in this sharing of
experiences and other knowledge that, sometimes, we even put an end to certain myths.”
In the Netherlands, the recommendation was also found to be useful by a majority of participants in
most discussion groups, although a minority feared that such workshops may “end up in some kind
of sensational story telling session”. In both locations, participants suggested that more people may
be attracted to such workshop if it was part of a larger public event, e.g. a summer festival with
several activities, where “the result would be an educational and fun day”. This suggestion resonates
strongly with Kitagawa’s concept of everyday-life preparedness, by embedding disaster
preparedness activities in what people already do in building a sense of belonging. At the same time,
it ties in with the data collected when discussing the next recommendation:
Recommendation 4: Find out about training events in your area, e.g. First Aid and CPR training,
where you can participate; use these events to learn new skills or refresh old skills. Such events are
also an opportunity to train with fellow citizens from other cultural backgrounds; learn to identify
and respect their specific cultural needs.
In both Citizen Summits, the majority of participants strongly appreciated this recommendation as
“useful in many situations, and it helps you to be aware of different cultural aspects and values”,
though some middle-aged participants in Portugal felt that they may have difficulties to make time
in their busy lives between work and family responsibilities. However, across all ages both
Portuguese and Dutch participants perceived themselves as living in urban areas that are inherently
multi-cultural and, thus, represent specific challenges – an aspect which has been discussed neither
by Wirtz and Rohrbeck (2017) nor Kitagawa (2019). These perceptions related to multi-cultural
issues
14
ranged from language issues to genuine tolerance, and from a somewhat utilitarian attitude
of enlarging the “pool” of potential helpers, to the desire to “break down the barriers” and offering
help oneself:
“We need to find proper ways to communicate with each other. Take for instance
Amsterdam, that’s where I live, a city with so many different languages. That’s why it is
important to communicate well with each other. (…) That’s why we need to coordinate this,
you need to organise it well. If not, people will all go into different directions, except for the
right one.”
14
Whereas some participants discussed this topic by using the term “culture” synonymously with nationality
or ethnicity, most of them reflected on cultural differences at the level of different practices, values or norms.
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“That’s also my experience. I used to live in a multi-cultural environment and I and my
children are mixed race. You’re all in this together.”
“I think the more you know about each other the more tolerant you’ll become.”
“It would also be interesting because we live in a multicultural society, in my area anyway.
So that I know that when there’s an emergency I can ask this person for help.”
“I think this is important because nowadays, especially in Lisbon, it is a city where many
communities are living together. And sometimes we are not aware of our neighbours, we live
quite apart from them […] And then we realise something, which is that when we need
someone, it doesn't matter what colour or what country they come from.”
“We have Syrian refugees in Portugal, but nobody has ever explained how the Muslim
religion is, what's the type of care [needed]. There was a lot of talk about hosting families,
but there was no training. I received a family and had to learn everything by myself. They
arrived, and I didn't know what I was supposed to do.”
“We have a lot of people from different cultural backgrounds in my neighbourhood […] I’d
like these people to know that we can all count on each other, regardless of where you’re
from. They’re not only dependent on each other but we, their Dutch neighbours, we can also
help them when they’re in need. I would like to break the barriers that exist in my
neighbourhood. I do believe that these barriers could indeed be broken by these kinds of
training events.”
In particular Dutch participants showed a high level of awareness that
“in such training you look at your own norms and values, that this can be an obstacle in
providing aid. You do not have to know all cultural backgrounds and have ‘manuals’ for
them, that is not realistic. It is more of becoming aware of your own baggage, the tinted
glasses, that you are aware of this and which obstacles it can form”.
This quote demonstrates that, rather than expecting disaster managers to turn into cultural trainers,
such events would require “cultural moderators” who help participants to reflect upon themselves
and put their own values, norms and behaviours into perspective. Accordingly well-designed disaster
preparedness training activities that also focus on cultural awareness are likely to benefit both “lay”
citizens and practitioners and have sustained effects that go beyond the improvement of knowledge
and skills.
“A sense of community. I live in an area where there are a lot of Moroccan people and
there’s not a lot of contact with them […] But it is interesting to get to know and understand
each other about these matters […] I think this is a really important issue.”
“I think this is a good thing, I would take part […] I would almost be inclined to do it for the
sake of getting to know the people who live in my neighbourhood. Instead of a barbeque we
could have this as a social and cultural event.”
Here, interestingly, the relationship between community cohesion and disaster preparedness goes
somewhat topsy-turvy: Social cohesion is not a factor that fosters disaster preparedness, but
disaster preparedness training activities are seen as “social and cultural events” which hold the
potential to build a sense of community in multi-cultural environments.
4.3 The power of empowerment
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Recommendation 5: When you participate in disaster training activities, use these opportunities to
think about and discuss with other participants and your trainers the personal skills you already
have that could be helpful in a disaster, e.g. technical skills, communication skills, organising
talent or detailed local knowledge.
This recommendation met very strong acceptance in Portugal, particularly when participants
imagined it not only in the context of preparedness training activities, but also in combination with
community workshops, where they saw the opportunity of mutual encouragement through
narratives and shared experience. This result confirms previous findings regarding the relationship
between perceived self-efficacy and disaster preparedness (Poussin et al., 2014; Tang & Feng, 2018;
Wirtz & Rohrbeck, 2017), and, additionally, affirms its connection to ‘thinking and talking about’
disasters (Jang et al., 2016). Accordingly, empowerment for improving citizens’ disaster
preparedness can be seen as a process that is embedded in group dynamics rather than individual
learning and reflection.
Dutch participants particularly appreciated the mutual effect of self-awareness and practical
exercise:
“I think it would be good if people would be aware of the different roles they could fulfil, but
don’t just think or talk about it, you also need to act upon it. These roles don’t always need to
be practical, you could also think along the lines of ‘oh, this person is good at calming people
down, and this other person knows how to remember where we can find the emergency exit’
[…] Basically, believe in your own strength, think about how you can contribute […]”
Additionally, participants in both summits suggested providing specific examples and asked for
guidance to facilitate the process of self-identification:
“Because only when those examples came up [in the morning presentation during the Citizen
Summit], you started to think about yourself. If there were more examples, more people
would probably feel involved […] Standard roles that you can identify yourself with. What
people could do, how they can use it. You can list clear roles that are necessary in a disaster
situation.”
The previously identified relationship between perceived self-efficacy and disaster preparedness
(Poussin et al., 2014; Tang & Feng, 2018; Wirtz & Rohrbeck, 2017) may, thus, be fostered by such
roles, as their recognition can represent an important first step in the development of self-efficacy –
particularly in individual-oriented risk cultures such as the Netherlands (Cornia et al., 2016), because
they represent already existing core elements of people’s everyday lives, which are easy to identify
with.
5. Conclusion
As Domingues and colleagues (2018) have demonstrated in their research on perception of coastal
hazards in Portugal, generating worry or fear through information or education in an attempt to
improve preparedness via increased risk perception may have the opposite effect. In particular,
citizens whose main source of knowledge is life experience may not respond well to such strategies.
Instead, they may lead to cognitive dissonance and people engaging in strategies to psychologically,
rather than practically, cope with perceived risks. Encouraging sustained behavioural change
towards disaster preparedness may therefore be more successful if making use of factors that are
already aligned with people’s worldviews, values and norms, i.e. cultural factors, which are more
likely to achieve a “soft” cultural change over time. However, the development of such “culture of
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13
preparedness” is not a monolithic exercise, but more likely to build upon on a combination of
various dynamics. The results of our research with citizens in Portugal and the Netherlands point at
three main strategies, which can be linked to such cultural change.
Firstly, incorporating “simple things” in already existing daily routines is likely to be more successful
than other measures, because it only requires little cost or effort. However, its particular strength
lies in that it builds and extends upon already existing cultural values and daily routines.
Secondly, community cohesion as a cultural value to foster disaster preparedness, particularly in
large urban environments, cannot be taken for granted. However, this does not mean that there is
no desire for community cohesion amongst city dwellers, and this desire may be conductive to
participating in disaster preparedness activities, fostered by general cultural empathy and, not least,
natural curiosity or intellectual interest in “the other”. Events that facilitate these encounters –
which may be workshops that aim to create shared identities via collective memory, training
activities that incorporate self-awareness, or a combination of both – are more likely to be accepted
if they are, again, organised as part of everyday-life events.
Thirdly, targeting self-efficacy, if focused solely on the acquisition of disaster or emergency-specific
skills, may face citizens’ general inertia or feelings that it is the authorities’ responsibility to take
preparedness measures. However, targeting already existing, personal everyday skills and improving
citizens’ awareness of their additional usefulness for disaster situations, may serve as another factor
in fostering disaster preparedness through everyday-life preparedness.
Understanding preparedness as “a way of life” (Becker et al., 2017) may also hold further benefits:
Fostering preparedness is not only a form of disaster management, but also a dynamic form of
health promotion (Tang & Feng, 2018), which points at the potential of fruitful cooperation between
healthcare providers, disasters management authorities and researchers in targeting cultural
change. Such cooperation, aiming to promote and further explore the cultural dynamics of disaster
preparedness, is likely to help improve citizens’ general health and well-being in their everyday lives.
6. Limitations
The main limitation of this study lies in that the data in both research locations were collected from
non-probability samples, which are not representative of either the Portuguese or the Dutch
population, or the European population at large. Furthermore, although participant selection aimed
to achieve samples with an even spread across all ages, participants aged 65+ were
underrepresented. However, age-related differences in disaster experience and disaster risk
perception were found to be not statistically significant (p>=.05). For the purpose of eliciting the
perceived role of cultural factors in locations with different disaster histories, institutional
environments and types of local hazards, we consider this underrepresentation therefore to be
acceptable. In addition, the qualitative findings from this research do not point at age-related
differences in attitudes or perceptions towards cultural practices that would foster an everyday-life
preparedness. Finally, “culture” is a term which, in everyday language, is often used synonymously
with nationality or ethnicity. Accordingly, focus group participants occasionally defaulted to this
definition in their discussions. However, group moderators were carefully briefed to probe and guide
participants towards possibilities of a wider understanding of culture, including everyday practices,
but without restricting them to pre-defined uses.
Acknowledgements
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14
The research reported in this paper was carried out as part of the CARISMAND project. CARISMAND
– Culture And RISk management in Man-made And Natural Disasters – has received funding from the
European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (2014–2020) under Grant
Agreement Number 653748. Opinions expressed in this paper solely reflect the authors' view; the EU
is not responsible for any use that may be made of information it contains.
The authors would like to thank Alexandra Tsvetkova, Libre Foundation (Bulgaria) for her
contribution in the organisation of all Citizen Summits.
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Appendix I
Full list
of discussed recommendations for citizens developing a
“culture of preparedness”
Citizens’ evaluation
CS
LIsbon
CS
Utrecht
Set up personal emergency plans together with your family and
friends by discussing emergency contacts, meeting points, means of
communication etc.
Use simple reminders to have these emergency plans and
information readily available (e.g., as a pic on your mobile phone, in
your purse, or to stick on the fridge).
++
++
Be on the look-out for publicly displayed information about how to
prepare for disasters, which is often displayed in public places, e.g.,
posters and signs in buses, waiting halls, entrance areas of sports
stadiums, shopping centres, concert halls or hotel lobbies.
Make a point of reading and memorising such information, and
encourage people who are accompanying you, especially children, to
do the same.
++
+
Find out whether there are community workshops in your area on
how to prepare for, and respond to, disasters.
If none are organised, ask your local council or civil protection
authority to organise such workshops.
Take part in these workshops and use this opportunity to share your
experiences of past disasters; discuss values and traditions that
played an important role in these situations.
The active participation in such community workshops will help
community members learn from each other about local hazards and
disaster risks, and so strengthen community spirit for improve
community responses in the event of a disaster.
++
+
Find out about training events in your area, e.g. First Aid and CPR
training, where you can participate; use these events to learn new
skills or refresh old skills.
Such events are also an opportunity to train with fellow citizens from
other cultural backgrounds, learn to identify and respect their
specific cultural needs.
+
++
When you participate in disaster training activities, use these
opportunities to think about and discuss with other participants and
your trainers the personal skills you already have that could be
helpful in a disaster, e.g. technical skills, communication skills,
organising talent or detailed local knowledge.
++
+
If there is the opportunity, participate regularly in disaster simulation
exercises, which will help strengthening a sense of community, and
increase the mutual understanding and trust between disaster
practitioners and citizens.
Encourage friends and family members to do the same.
+
+
Identify and memorise “safe spots” or “safe zones” in your homes,
your workplaces, and your local area.
Keep in mind that such safe places may be different for different
types of disaster.
Share and discuss these safe places with family members, friends and
colleagues.
+
+
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If you have a smart phone, find out what mobile phone apps are
available in your country and local area that are specifically designed
for disaster communication, such as providing warnings and alerts,
recommendations for appropriate disaster preparedness and
response, and important points of contact in case of a disaster.
Become familiar with the features of such apps and test them
frequently.
Encourage friends and family members to download and use this app
as well.
+
+
If you travel abroad, make it a habit to gather in advance information
about local emergency procedures, e.g. via websites of Civil
Protection, Red Cross, your country’s local embassy, or by asking at
the hotel reception of your travel destination.
If you use mobile phone apps, find our whether there is a “disaster
app” available in the countries where you travel, which provides
emergency-related information and guidance in your language.
+
+
Search online for reliable sources of information (e.g., the Civil
Protection website) or ask your local council for information about
how to prepare yourselves and your family and friends for disasters.
Download this information or ask the authorities to send you any
available brochures.
Update yourself at least once a year.
+
+/-
Find out which information channels can be used in case of a
disaster, e.g. websites or social media sites of your local police force,
Civil Protection etc.
Make sure you know how to access them, bookmark the links and
test them regularly.
Encourage and help other family members and friends to do the
same.
+
+/-
If you enjoy playing online games, find out what serious games for
disaster preparedness and response are available in your country and
language; train yourself by playing them and encourage others to do
the same.
If there are such games that were specifically designed for children,
encourage your children to play them, or play them together; ask
teachers or kindergarten staff to play them with the children
regularly.
+/-
+
If you are involved in digital gaming design, for example as the
developer of multi-player online games, a lecturer or a student in this
area, help disaster managers to employ virtual reality as a training
method.
This could be achieved by using serious game design for disaster
preparedness as a study goal, or by including the theme of
appropriate disaster response in the design of multi-player games.
+/-
+/-
Volunteer to get involved in the planning of emergency and disaster
response activities (e.g., by contacting your local council, or Civil
Protection), and encourage fellow citizens from different cultural
backgrounds to do the same.
Your participation will help practitioners learn about cultural
differences before a disaster occurs and adapt the respective
+/-
+/-
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19
guidelines and procedures accordingly.
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Declaration of interests
The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships
that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
The authors declare the following financial interests/personal relationships which may be considered
as potential competing interests:
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... However, Appleby-Arnold et al. [20] and van Bavel et al. [21] add that to enhance intervention and minimize casualties, there should be a development of 'a culture of preparedness' which will require a change of attitude and behaviour. Also, personal emergency plans should be set up with family and friends by discussing emergency contacts, meeting points using simple reminders like a picture on mobile phones, pasted on a fridge or in a purse [20]. ...
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Climate change and the associated weather extreme events are a major threat to humanity as it affects agriculture and food security. Climate change disaster is on the increase as the global temperature keeps rising. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been complicated by climate change and related extreme events especially with the imposed lockdown which has affected the global economy. The COVID-19 has killed over 4 million persons with the USA, Brazil and India being the worst affected nations. Thus, the multi-hazard scenario presented by extreme events like drought, flood and cyclones this period of the pandemic worsened its spread as it affected social distancing and personal hygiene as many people are crammed in camps and water become scarce for handwashing. It is suggested for countries to strengthen their emergency department by boosting the staff component, provide adequate technical support and develop detailed plans for multi-hazard preparedness.
... A public agency, as well as other regulatory organizations, therefore needs to consider what the public thinks and feels about a risk, irrespective of whether it shares these understandings. A large body of research literature explores the factors that affect the public's perception of risk, as well as the factors affecting their understanding of the authorities handling these risks [24]; however, less scholarly attention has been given to the authorities' perception of citizens and how this may affect their actions [25]. ...
... Studies have also shown that national risk communication prioritizes the urban population [11], probably because cities are more complex, and their citizens are more dependent on different technical infrastructures. At the same time, the research literature exploring citizens' preparedness often does so in small-scale or rural settings, with an assumption that these populations are easier to activate in a disaster [24], and urban areas are less explored. In this study, two municipalities were selected: one metropolitan area (Stockholm city, the biggest city in Sweden, 1,000,000 citizens) and one large city area (Örebro municipality, the sixth-biggest city in Sweden, 160,000 citizens). ...
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Creating preparedness for climate change has become an increasingly important task for society. In Sweden, the responsibility for crisis preparedness rests to a large extent on the municipalities. Through an interview study of municipal officials, this paper examines municipalities’ crisis preparedness for climate change and the role they assign to citizens. The theoretical approach is that of risk governance, which adopts an inclusive approach to risk management, and that of risk sociology, which states that how a problem is defined determines how it should be handled and by whom. The empirical results show that the municipal officials mainly discuss technically defined risks, such as certain kinds of climate-related extreme events, the handling of which does not require any substantial involvement of citizens. Citizens’ responsibility is only to be individually prepared, and thereby they do not require municipal resources to protect their own properties in the case of an extreme event. The municipalities, however, feel that their citizens have not developed this individual preparedness and therefore they try to better inform them. This analysis finds five different views of citizens, all with their own problems, and to which the municipalities respond with different communicative measures. By way of conclusion, three crucial aspects are raised regarding the task of making societies better prepared for climate change.
... Socio-cultural contexts lead to varied risk perceptions and consequently, to different ways of preparing for each type of hazard. For example, while Romania and Malta share similar risks, Romanian people tend to base their emergency preparedness on individual collection of information from the authorized bodies; while Maltese people tend to base their preparedness on social activities (26). Cultural contexts such as values, traditions, technological literacy, responsibilities attributed to varied sectors of the population and more, impact on both risk perceptions and emergency preparedness (26,27). ...
... For example, while Romania and Malta share similar risks, Romanian people tend to base their emergency preparedness on individual collection of information from the authorized bodies; while Maltese people tend to base their preparedness on social activities (26). Cultural contexts such as values, traditions, technological literacy, responsibilities attributed to varied sectors of the population and more, impact on both risk perceptions and emergency preparedness (26,27). ...
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Each year, emergency and disaster situations claim a heavy toll in human lives and economic loss. Civilian populations that are more aware and prepared for emergencies are more resilient. The aim of this study was to explore similarities and differences in risk perception of emergencies and disasters across different societies and its association with individual resilience. A cross sectional study that explored attitudinal factors, as expressed by diverse samples of target countries across Europe and beyond, took place during the months of January-February 2021. Diverse samples ( N ≥ 500) of adults from 8 countries (Italy, Romania, Spain, France, Sweden, Norway, Israel, and Japan) were engaged in this study. This study used the Pictorial Representation of Illness and Self-Measure (iPRISM) tool to assess risk perception. The results suggest that for the overall sample ( N = 4,013), pandemics were the risk of which participants showed the highest concern, followed by critical infrastructure fail, social disturbance, natural hazards, and extreme weather events. It was found that religiosity is associated with risk perception, with highly religious and non-religious reporting elevated risk perception ( F = 5.735, df = 2, p = 0.003), however country-specific analysis revealed that this finding varies depending on local contexts. The analysis also revealed differences in risk perception depending on age and type of risk. The results of this study present that there are commonalities and differences between societies across Europe and beyond concerning societal resilience at large, including risk perception. The dependency of risk perception on local context suggests that a regional-based approach for disaster risk reduction may be called for to adapt and adjust to local socio-cultural characteristics of each population.
... Residents who have experienced more disasters have greater awareness of disaster preparedness and more targeted preparation behaviors. According to the studies by Samaddar et al. [29], Sandra et al. [30] and Armaş et al. [31], self-efficacy also has a significant influence on urban residents' disaster avoidance preparation behaviors. Samaddar et al. [29] found that there was a strong correlation between self-efficacy and preparedness willingness when studying flood avoidance preparedness intentions. ...
... Samaddar et al. [29] found that there was a strong correlation between self-efficacy and preparedness willingness when studying flood avoidance preparedness intentions. Sandra et al. [30] considered that improving residents' self-efficacy in disaster situations is an important way to promote disaster preparedness. Training is the key way to improve residents' disaster avoidance preparedness behavior. ...
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Earthquakes have strong negative impacts on the development of global economic society. Fortunately, these negative impacts can be reduced through earthquake-preparedness behaviors. However, existing studies mostly focus on the driving factors of disaster-preparedness behaviors among urban residents, while few studies consider such factors among rural residents. Based on survey data of earthquake-prone rural settlements in China, this study uses the probit model and the Poisson model to evaluate the quantitative impact of training on farmers’ earthquake-preparedness behaviors. The results show that: (1) disaster prevention and mitigation training can encourage farmers to engage in earthquake disaster-preparedness behaviors; that is, compared with farmers who have not participated in training, farmers who have participated in training have a 21.39% higher probability of adopting earthquake disaster-preparedness behaviors. (2) Disaster prevention and mitigation training can improve the extent of farmers’ adoption of earthquake disaster avoidance preparedness behaviors, namely, compared with farmers who have not participated in training, farmers who have participated in training adopt earthquake disaster-preparedness behaviors to a greater extent, presenting an increase of 0.75 items. Therefore, this study provides a helpful reference for improving disaster prevention and mitigation training policies for settlements at high risk of earthquakes.
... For instance, Acharya and Prakash (2019), while researching LK for flood forecasting in India, found that people regularly triangulate between the local signs they use to forecast flooding and official forecasting information they hear in the radios. Detailed discussions on the process of hybrid knowledge creation is available in, for instance, Alexander and Mercer (2012), Appleby-Arnold et al. (2021); Choudhury et al. (2021), Mercer et al. (2012), Obi et al. (2021), and Wang et al. (2019). • LK is also determined by local power relations, and has a power component attached to it. ...
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THIS IS A CONSTRIBUTING PAPER TO THE 2022 UNDRR GLOBAL RISK ASSESSMENT REPORT (GAR 2022) ABSTRACT: It is often taken as given that community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) serves as a mechanism for the inclusion of local knowledge (LK) in disaster risk reduction (DRR). In this paper, through in-depth qualitative analysis of empirical data from Malawi, we investigate the extent to which CBDRR in practice really takes into account LK. This research argues that LK is underutilised in CBDRR and finds that current practice provides a limited opportunity for the inclusion of LK, due to five prime obstacles: i) current approach to community participation, ii) financial constraints and capacity of external stakeholders, iii) the donor landscape, iv) information consolidation and sharing, and v) external stakeholders attitudes towards LK. In CBDRR, a strong dichotomy between local and scientific knowledge is maintained, and further re-examination of community-based approaches in practice is needed to make them truly transformative.
... Several scientific papers emphasize the need to examine these views. They also emphasize the need to further use the views and thus improve the level of the population preparedness by means of various tools [36][37][38]. Germany, for instance, is aware of the use of the potential of the population and their views, where the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief under Section 4 of the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Act has significantly strengthened and developed the social science perspective in civil society protection in recent years. The socio-scientific dimension of crisis management will be further developed as a situational picture of the population's behavior and will be more significantly implemented in risk prevention. ...
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The main purpose of this paper is to point out a new approach in evaluating the preparedness of the population of a selected city for civil protection and its response to emergencies. Using new approaches, it evaluates a subjective questionnaire survey in combination with the objective state thanks to a mathematical approach and its subsequent verification on a specific example. The proposed approaches are then verified by experimental surveys in the selected city. The result is a highly adaptable tool that can be set up and adapted to different situations and different types of questionnaires to address the preparedness and safety of the population for emergencies. Thanks to this tool, it is possible to evaluate the subjective opinions of the population and thus gain insight into the assessment of the city’s preparedness for emergencies. Subsequently, we can set the prevention and preparedness of the population in the city on the basis of the obtained outputs, which potentially has a fundamental influence on the response after the occurrence of an emergency. Improving preparedness in the area of civil protection shall not only be reflected in the response and minimization of the consequences of the emergency, but also in the emotional security of the population.
... For example, the most significant factors of the preparedness culture in US universities and colleges include all hazard emergency plans, partnerships with the community, and emergency training and exercise (Kapucu and Khosa, 2013). At the same time, the preparedness culture should not be imposed from the top but rather should be supported by citizens (Appleby-Arnold, Brockdorff, and Callus, 2021). Even information and communications technology (ICT) would not be able to contribute to the response to the occurrence of a local emergency if it were not attuned to the local emergency management culture (Marincioni, 2007). ...
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This study aimed to explore uncommon alternatives or fresh ideas in emergency management by comparing the US and Korean emergency management cultures. Qualitative content analysis was used as the major methodology in the comparison, which considered five factors common to the two nations: ideology, key players, management principles, material resources, and international efforts. A key finding is that, although these two nations are far apart, each country has similarly developed its own emergency management culture. The difference is that the US circular culture emphasises diverse interests, whereas the Korean angular culture is oriented more toward its professional class. Based on the results, it is recommended that each nation improve its management culture by learning from and adopting the advantages of its counterpart. The greatest value of this research is in providing a basic mechanism for the systematic comparison of two different emergency management cultures.
... ts effect on community readiness in facing disasters at this time, (2) the level of understanding of disaster preparedness in the community in patron-client relations, and (3) the level of disaster preparedness in the local social system in Maringkik Island, East Lombok Regency. This research is different from previous research (Aida et. al., 2020;Appleby-Arnold et. Al., 2021;Cohen et. al., 2017;Hadi, 2019;Hayudityas, 2020;Nuraeni et. al., 2020). There has not been much research on disaster mitigation in small islands in Indonesia, especially in the Southeastern Region of Indonesia. Especially with regard to the role of education and client patron relationships in community preparedness for disasters. Disaste ...
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This research is motivated by the awareness of the importance of community preparedness against disasters, especially for island communities whose locations are in disaster-prone areas. Maringkik Island, East Lombok Regency was chosen as the research location because the island is included in the southern part of Lombok Island which has the potential for megathrust with earthquakes above 8 SR. The objectives of this study were to determine: (1) the level of community education in Maringkik Island and its effect on community readiness in dealing with current disasters, (2) the level of understanding of disaster preparedness in the community in patron-client relationships, and (3) the level of disaster preparedness in the local social system of community in Maringkik Island, East Lombok Regency. The method used in this research is mixed methods, a combination of quantitative and qualitative research. The data were collected using in-depth interviews and surveys using a questionnaire that had been prepared. The results obtained from this study are that community preparedness in facing disasters is influenced by several factors, namely the level of education and knowledge as well as existing socio-cultural values. In addition, the existing patron-client pattern actually contributes to the community's low understanding of disaster preparedness. Community behavior and preparedness in the event of a disaster are still traditional, instinctive and natural, not based on modern science. Therefore, this study recommends the importance of disaster-specific subjects in schools and routine disaster mitigation-related training from related institutions.
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For centuries flood marks have been used as a way to preserve the memory of extreme events. In many cities around the world they are considered a cultural heritage and a reminder of historic flood disasters. Their timeless message has endured the ravages of nature over the centuries, but without adequate protection, they risk being irretrievably lost, and with them an important historical message. In Cracow, 21 such artifacts have survived to this day, with the oldest dating back to the 16th century. Yet, the fundamental problem relates to their lack of cataloging and surveying to date. As part of the presented project, we surveyed the preserved marks and recreated the exact location of a lost baroque flood mark using the photogrammetric method, based on preserved photos and images available on Google Street View. Subsequently, this data was uploaded into the public database of the Open Hydrology project. In order to facilitate the reconstruction of flood information in the future, we propose an innovative way of using smartphones to register temporary flood marks. The conclusion from tests on several popular smartphone models suggests the proposed guidelines allow for an inexpensive and quick creation of flood marks with an accuracy of 10 mm. The data collected in a digital format can be used to raise public awareness of floods and is easy to disseminate. Historical flood marks are usually represented in the form of plaques, but are difficult to produce on a mass scale, yet appeal to the imagination. Their digital substitutes can be temporary flood marks photographed with smartphones, so their associated cost is negligible. Furthermore, because they are taken immediately after the flood and not during it (unlike ordinary flood photography), they do not pose a threat to people's safety. The method proposed in this article takes the form of simple guidelines and can be successfully applied for both the quick creation of new temporary flood marks, and for documenting traditional historical marks.
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This paper reviews serious games/simulations addressing issues related to disaster risk management (DRM) and serving as educational and engagement tools for affected communities, policy-makers, and other stakeholders. Building on earlier research in collecting and classifying serious games, we provide an objective and thorough overview of 45 non-commercial digital and analog gaming activities related to DRM, analyzing their characteristics, target groups, portrayed hazards, and possible DRM skills development. Moreover, realizing the need for a more reliable and scientific approach to testing serious games’ effectiveness in contributing to DRM, we explore the categories of objectives of existing activities, and collect qualitative and quantitative evidence (players’ feedback, quantitative surveys, scientific articles on the analyzed games etc.) supporting their assessment. Further, we identify the prospects and limitations of gaming in the broader context of DRM, and diagnose existing niches that could be exploited by game producers and researchers to develop more user-tailored game design and reliable evaluation methodology. The research reveals that DRM-related serious games/simulations offer a rich social experience with players collaboratively solving a problem. With a capacity of reaching diverse audiences (embracing adults, children, experts and communities) and of realistically simulating disaster reality, serious games/simulations may assist DRM, especially in the realm of disaster risk awareness raising, identifying hazards, undertaking preventive actions, empathy triggering and perspective-taking. At the same time, the research displays the scarcity of quantitative and qualitative research into the games’ effectiveness. Therefore more detailed and structured study is called for in assessing these outcomes.
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On the premise that a system's resilience is partially a function of its capability to manage risk, this paper systematically presents a step-by-step process to develop and apply a participatory risk assessment as an approximate way to better understand livelihood resilience from a local perspective, specifically within the context of rice smallholders located in flood-prone areas in Ecuador. This process is characterized mainly by (i) approaching smallholders to ascertain the livelihood assets that are relevant to them, how they could be understood as being at risk, and how their at-risk situation should be measured and interpreted; and (ii) using drawings and stories as a combined research tool for refreshing memory in the process of data collection. The differentiated research process showed that (i) including local knowledge and interpretation of risk from the beginning of the assessment tool construction results in an easier application in the field; (ii) drawing and storytelling as a combined tool on the one hand helped participants to provide detailed information about facts, feelings, and social dynamics, and on the other hand allowed us to indirectly assess their willingness to collaborate and the strategies to do so; and (iii) popular or innovative strategies, involving tangible and intangible resources, identified through every step, proved to be a link between local resilience and risk management capabilities.
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Little is known about how children and young people are affected by evacuation following flooding. Participatory research using creative methods allowed us to elicit flood stories and recovery pathways over time. We found that children's relationships with space and place were severely challenged following evacuation from home. They suffered losses, including loss of agency, friendship networks and familiar space. They experienced distress, anxiety and disillusionment with societal responses. Sustained attention by flood risk and recovery agencies is required to address children's ongoing needs following evacuation. From policymakers recognition is overdue that young people are citizens who already contribute to community flood response and so need to be more explicitly consulted and included in the development of flood risk management.
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Earthquakes pose a serious threat to human health and well-being. The interaction between human-related factors such as choice of protective behavioral strategy, on one hand, and the built environment, on the other, may exacerbate or mitigate the aftermath of a given quake event. This study surveyed expected behavioral strategies among residents of a high vulnerability risk area in Israel and assessed factors that could influence their behavior. The results demonstrate that residents with low socioeconomic status are more vulnerable. Several personal and socioeconomic characteristics are associated with residents’ expected behavior. Levels of earthquake preparedness and dwelling type are significant predictors of choice of a recommended behavioral strategy. The implications of these results and possible ways to improve preparedness are discussed.
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When addressing public behaviour during mass emergencies and disasters, it is important to consider that such emergencies and disasters will often involve crowds. An understanding of emergency crowds is therefore crucial in ensuring that incidents are managed as effectively as possible. The elaborated social identity model of crowd behaviour emphasizes that the way in which emergency responders manage crowds during an incident can play a crucial role in determining how members of the public react. Specifically, if affected casualties see emergency responders' instructions and actions as legitimate, this will result in increased identification and cooperation between emergency responders and members of the public. In this paper, we show how the social identity approach can be applied to best explain crowd behaviour during mass emergencies and disasters, and how this improved theoretical understanding can be used to generate specific recommendations for operational good practice during incident management.
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This paper aims to contribute to the conceptualisation and practice of ‘everyday-life preparedness [seikatsu bosai]’ (EP) initially proposed by Yamori. It reinforces existing community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) systems through embedding preparedness thinking and practice in communities’ daily lives. International agencies, governments and experts promote CBDRR to engage ‘all of society’ and to achieve ‘a culture of DRR’. At the same time, the challenges of how to engage communities in DRR actions and how to sustain them in the communities are also recognised. Drawing on three case studies from Japan, the paper suggests that EP could be one approach to respond to these challenges. A need for integrating DRR and community development has already been identified by some authors. Taking this position further, the paper proposes EP as one of the methodologies of integrated CBDRR approaches.
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This paper examines the role of community resilience during the emergency response after the 2010 Chile earthquake and tsunami. El Morro – a fishing community that managed to survive the tsunami in the Talcahuano region – is used as a case study. Despite the magnitude of the catastrophe and the mistaken tsunami warning, there were no reports of casualties. We conducted qualitative research over a six-month period consisting of: semi-structured interviews; observation; informal conversations; documentary and social media review; to explore the resilience capacities and resources that were activated in the community to cope with the disaster. Our findings show that community resilience played an important role during the response period, especially in the absence of external aid. Communities are not merely passive victims of disasters, they are active agents. Resilience capacities such as sense of community, local knowledge, social capital, organisation, cooperation, and trust contributed to the survival of the entire community during the first days after the disaster. The lessons from the El Morro community can be useful for improving emergency management and disaster response in small-scale communities.
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Faro Beach is a vulnerable and heavily urbanized settlement in the Ria Formosa barrier island system, exposed to beach erosion, overwash and other hazards that have resulted in house and road destruction. Residents have accepted the risks in exchange for the benefits of living at the beach. Previous qualitative studies have suggested that residents’ risk perception is low and incongruent with the real risk to which they are exposed to. In this study we aimed to evaluate residents’ awareness and risk perception, as well as determinants and outcomes of risk perception, using a quantitative approach based on the psychometric paradigm. Results show that Faro Beach residents possess significant knowledge on coastal hazards and awareness of risks that derive mainly from life experience. Other sources of information (environmental education campaigns, public discussions and formal education) are mostly irrelevant for residents. Their risk perception is relatively high, but they believe hazards are not that dangerous and are distant in time; consequently, their preparedness towards risks is low. Residents’ risk perception is related to their length of residence at the beach (mostly >10 years), their “positive” past experience with hazards, that never resulted in fatalities, and their psychological distance in relation to threats, all of which may hamper residents’ preparedness in case of disaster. Other behavioural barriers, such as mistrust in authorities, externalisation of responsibility, optimism bias, or low self-efficacy, may also hinder their preparation efforts. Authorities’ efforts to give more information and education to coastal populations in order to increase risk perceptions or decrease psychological distance may have the opposite effect, given that individuals use a variety of strategies to psychologically cope with threats and thus maintain their psychological well-being. A thorough knowledge of the psychological determinants and responses to coastal risks is thus highly relevant in the context of coastal management.
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In this chapter, we examine community innovation. We begin first by conceptualizing community and innovation as they relate to hazard and disaster. We identify the difficulties inherent in the terms community, innovation, and community innovation, presenting some working concepts that seem to align best with overall disaster research experience. We examine the characteristics of communities that make innovation both necessary and difficult, using examples of innovations drawn from the United States and internationally. This discussion will point toward some directions for future research, including an understanding of community that might be suitable for newer, complex, and diffuse hazards – such as bioterrorism, cyberterrorism, and slow onset hazards related to climate change. The discussion will also point to some needed reorientations in policy that might proceed from either subsequent or existing research.