Reading #1
Schipper & Pelling (2006) discussed the difficulties in having several different sources of conflict response protocols and the lack of interaction between the three different communities of practice. The paper suggested that disaster management is of increasing importance because of the role of climate change in the rising number of weather-related events in the past decade, particularly those affecting poorer countries. Schipper & Pelling suggest that the three realms of action are disaster risk management, national development policy and climate change agenda, all of which should be integrated to provide a more thorough set of policies based on integration rather than separation. Using a national development policy that is based around reducing the impacts of climate change and providing a basis for disaster risk management has the potential to save lives.

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This discussion is important because it goes into a huge amount of detail about the effects that the integration of these services can have on each of the three realms. By using the expertise of those working in each separate field to inform the way that other realms develop could positively improve the practice of disaster management. Not only will disaster management be easier if the national infrastructure is more supportive and development occurs in a targeted manner, it will also be a lot more effective. By integrating climate change agenda, there is also the possibility that development can be done in such a manner that there is a reduction in the number of weather-rated disasters, although this may not be possible for some decades. Despite this, there are a number of problems that are identified by Schipper & Pelling (2006) – namely translating new agendas into policy that can be used on a national or international scale.

Reading #2
Manyena (2006) explored the relationship between disaster recovery and the resilience of affected communities, suggesting that there is an increased focus on creating a disaster recovery plan that allows the community to bounce back following a disaster with little need for external assistance. Manyena’s argument here is that, whilst resilience is a useful concept within disaster management, it is currently used in a broad scope with very little emphasis on creating a true definition or understanding the links between vulnerability and resilience. It seems as though this word is being used throughout disaster management with very little emphasis on how it should be used within the field, which could be misinforming practice and unnecessarily complicating the whole procedure. Manyena also offers a definition of resilience, namely that it is “the intrinsic capacity of a system, community or society predisposed to a shock or stress to adapt and survive by changing its non-essential attributes and rebuilding itself” (p46).

What is interesting in this context is that Manyena argues that changing this definition and exploring the implications it has of disaster management also has the effect of creating change in development practice. This mirrors the ideas of Schipper & Pelling (2006) and supports the need for a more universal sense of community between the three realms, and Manyena’s argument even gives a method in which these practices can be united more easily. Manyena’s discussion also suggests that vulnerability reduction strategies are orientated towards a better human coping environment, which may also have an impact on climate-change research and policy, again leading towards the integration argued for by Schipper & Pelling (2006). It was also interesting that Manyena focused on the differences between resilience as part of the community itself and resilience as a quality of the people that live there – this needs more research to inform disaster management practice as it could be key to improving services.

Reading #3
Davidson et al. (2007) discuss the involvement of community users in the process of reconstruction projects after a disaster. The theory is that there are many different ways in which the community can get involved in these rebuilding projects, ranging from simply acting as a labor force to actively being part of the decision-making process. Davidson et al. argue that there are a number of good intentions and potentially good results from having community members being directly involved in the decision-making process but often these expectations are not fulfilled and therefore the talents of the workers are misused or undervalued. The conclusion is that there is no model for which type of community involvement fits a disaster scenario best, as there are a number of sociopolitical issues to be considered as well as individual community culture.

Davidson et al. (2007) make the recommendation that their research be used to help design reconstruction projects and to ensure that it informs the choice of involvement level by people in the community. This research did not contribute much to the process of understanding disaster management because it raised a lot more questions than it answered, such as how we should approach making the decision about community involvement and who is the best person to create the organizational design. Schipper & Pelling (2006) argue that there should be a greater integration of different realms, but Davidson et al. (2007) focused only on community involvement and did not elaborate on how the different realms could work together within the community rebuilding. Manyena’s (2006) discussion of vulnerability was also not incorporated into the research despite the fact that Manyena stated that it was a common part of disaster management organization, which suggests that Davidson et al. (2007) did not take this into account for their research.

Reading #4
Ingram et al. (2006) discussed vulnerability reduction in disaster recovery, very much echoing some of the ideas about vulnerability made by Manyena (2006). The focus of this paper was to suggest that there is a need for short-term vulnerability reduction in the immediate response to a disaster, but this should not be done at the risk of ruining long-term disaster reduction plans. There was a creation of a framework which helped to identify where disaster relief programs should focus their efforts. In the example given from Sri Lanka, it was found that there was a disproportionate amount of energy that focused on future disaster prevention in the area, whilst not enough work to address social, economic and institutional factors. Schipper & Pelling (2006) also argued that there needs to be a better integration of different types of services and Ingram et al. (2006) gave realistic proof that this may be the case in their example.

The idea of vulnerability comes up several times in disaster management research, as identified by Manyena (2006). It is interesting to see Ingram et al. (2006) explore further into the different uses of the terms and the effects that shiort- and long-term vulnerability reduction programs have on local communities. It is also an important illustration that disaster management needs to focus on more than just preventing future disasters, and this can inform practice to become better. It also may provide clues into what problems there are with existing disaster management efforts, in that they do not focus on the idea of the community. Again, this can be linked to the ideas that participation by community members can actually massively benefit a project (Davidson et al., 2007) as it is unlikely that the people who are actually affected will fail to “address the critical social, economic and institutional factors” (p607).

Reading #5
Adgar et al. (2005) explored the concept of resilience, as seen in Manyena (2006) but instead focused on the nature of social-ecological resilience in coastal disaster situations. This was noted to be particularly important as human activity is concentrated along the coastline and therefore it is subject to the most human-related stress, but it is also one of the most vulnerable disaster zones. Adgar et al. also noted that the response to the 2004 Asian tsunami was most effective in areas that had a combination of good social and good ecological resilience. This echoes the ideas in Schipper & Pelling (2006) that disaster management should not be a one trick pony – there needs to be a variety of different stakeholders involved in the process for it to be effective.

Adgar et al. (2005) also helps to clarify some of the problems that Manyena (2006) had in defining resilience, in that it focuses on just two areas in which resilience is an important concept. By defining exactly the type of resilience that is being discussed in context, it can help focus the discussion of resilience and how it works in disaster management. It is also interesting that Adgar et al. (2006) focuses on social resilience, as this suggests that the people within the community are an important part of how it responds to disasters, an idea that also echoes the research of Manyena (2006). Overall, this provides a lot of information about why certain areas respond better to disasters than others, and provides key areas in which disaster management can focus to help create more resilient societies.

Reading #6
In the Editorial for the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (2013), the writer explores the fact that there has been very little progress in reducing the effects of socio-natural disasters. The editorial also focuses on the idea that vulnerability can be one of the biggest hurdles in creating a realistic disaster management program, as suggested by Ingram et al. (2006). Social vulnerability is a problem that exists within the realm of development programs, which suggests that Schipper & Pelling (2006) were right in that there is a need for integration of the realms to create a truly effective service. The editorial argues that development is currently not having the expected impact on disaster risk and social vulnerability that would be expected, and that is causing significant problems in advancing the methods of disaster management. Again, this echoes many of the ideas in the previous readings that many different elements of disaster management need to be considered for it to be effective.

Overall, this editorial is useful to the process of disaster management because it really highlights some of the reasons why it is not as advanced as it should be, considering the technological advances we have made in other areas. It highlights the need to really understand social, economic, and political reasons why resilience and vulnerability occur, which adds a level of humanity to the entire process of management planning. This editorial also combines so many of the ideas found within the previous readings, which is great as it works to tie this all together and to really create an overview of what disaster management is and how it can be improved in the future. Overall, it has become evident that approaching disaster management from a multitude of different perspectives may be the key in it becoming more effective in the future, as well as incorporating ideas about vulnerability and resilience.

  • Adger, W. N., Hughes, T. P., Folke, C., Carpenter, S. R., & Rockström, J. (2005). Social-ecological resilience to coastal disasters. Science, 309(5737), 1036–1039.
  • Davidson, C. H., Johnson, C., Lizarralde, G., Dikmen, N., & Sliwinski, A. (2007). Truths and myths about community participation in post-disaster housing projects. Habitat International, 31(1), 100–115.
  • Ingram, J. C., Franco, G., Rio, C. R., & Khazai, B. (2006). Post-disaster recovery dilemmas: challenges in balancing short-term and long-term needs for vulnerability reduction. Environmental Science & Policy, 9(7), 607–613.
  • Manyena, S. B. (2006). The concept of resilience revisited. Disasters, 30(4), 434–450.
  • Oliver-Smith, A. (2013). A matter of choice. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 3, 1–3.
  • Schipper, L., & Pelling, M. (2006). Disaster risk, climate change and international development: scope for, and challenges to, integration. Disasters, 30(1), 19–38.