2021 Vol. 12, No. 2

Display Method:
Data, Disasters, and Space-Time Entanglements
Eija Meriläinen, Mirka Koro
2021, 12(2): 157-168. doi: 10.1007/s13753-021-00333-x
Disasters connected to natural hazards can at the same time be unfolding events, as well as structural phenomena with unequal disaster risk constructed over an extended timespan. Hence, in disaster studies, temporality and spatiality are central, yet often implicit, concepts employed to make sense of the disaster phenomena. In this article we explicitly focus on temporality and spatiality within qualitative disaster studies, particularly those containing ethnographic elements. We use Doreen Massey’s idea of space-time trajectories to analyze and illustrate how in qualitative disaster studies the trajectories of the disaster, research participants, and the researcher entangle in diverse ways. The focus is on how temporality and spatiality are present in the construction of data. The article is mainly conceptual, with illustrations drawn from empirical fieldwork on Valparaíso fire of 2014 in Chile. We interrogate how researchers’ sensitivity to temporality and spatiality challenges the conventional notions and practices of “data” in qualitative disaster studies. The focus in this article is on disaster studies, but it also offers methodological insights to other social sciences that strive to conduct research in the era of “Anthropocene,” with all its shifts and changes, the root causes of which have built over a long time.
Informal Caregiving and Disaster Risk Reduction: A Scoping Review
Christina J. Pickering, Maya Dancey, Karen Paik, Tracey O'Sullivan
2021, 12(2): 169-187. doi: 10.1007/s13753-021-00328-8
Informal caregivers are a population currently in the shadows of disaster risk reduction (DRR), and yet essential to the provision of healthcare services. This scoping review explored the literature to understand issues related to informal caregiving and promising practices to support resilience for disasters. Following guidelines for scoping review as outlined by Tricco et al. (2016), relevant publications were identified from five major databases— Medline, Embase, PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus. Relevant studies referenced informal caregiving and disasters for a variety of population groups including children, people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, and older adults. Studies were excluded if they discussed formal caregiving services (for example, nursing), lacked relevance to disasters, or had insufficient discussion of informal caregiving. Overall, 21 articles met the inclusion criteria and were fully analyzed. Five themes were identified: (1) the need for education and training in DRR; (2) stressors around medication and supply issues; (3) factors affecting the decision-making process in a disaster; (4) barriers leading to disaster-related problems; and (5) factors promoting resilience. Recommended areas of strategic action and knowledge gaps are discussed. Many informal caregivers do not feel adequately prepared for disasters. Given the important role of informal caregivers in healthcare provision, preparedness strategies are essential to support community resilience for those requiring personal care support. By understanding and mobilizing assets to support the resilience of informal caregivers, we also support the resilience of the greater healthcare system and the community, in disaster contexts.
Filling the Disaster Data Gap: Lessons from Cataloging Singapore’s Past Disasters
Yolanda C. Lin, Feroz Khan, Susanna F. Jenkins, David Lallemant
2021, 12(2): 188-204. doi: 10.1007/s13753-021-00331-z
International disaster databases and catalogs provide a baseline for researchers, governments, communities, and organizations to understand the risk of a particular place, analyze broader trends in disaster risk, and justify investments in mitigation. Perhaps because Singapore is routinely identified as one of the safest countries in the world, Singapore’s past disasters have not been studied extensively with few events captured in major global databases such as EM-DAT. In this article, we fill the disaster data gap for postwar Singapore (1950–2020) using specified metrics through an archival search, review of literature, and analysis of secondary sources. We present four key lessons from cataloging these events. First, we expand Singapore’s disaster catalog to 39 events in this time period and quantify the extent of this data gap. Second, we identify the mitigating actions that have followed past events that contribute to Singapore’s present-day safety. Third, we discuss how these past events uncover continuities among vulnerability bearers in Singapore. Last, we identify limitations of a disaster catalog when considering future risks. In expanding the disaster catalog, this case study of Singapore supports the need for comprehensive understanding of past disasters in order to examine current and future disaster resilience.
Beyond the Expected—Residual Risk and Cases of Overload in the Context of Managing Alpine Natural Hazards
Sönke Hartmann, Lydia Pedoth, Cristina Dalla Torre, Stefan Schneiderbauer
2021, 12(2): 205-219. doi: 10.1007/s13753-020-00325-3
Structural protection measures are designed to protect the population and infrastructure against natural hazards up to a specific predefined protection goal. Extreme events with intensities that exceed the capacity of these protection structures are called “cases of overload” and are associated with “residual risks” that remain after the implementation of protection measures. In order to address residual risks and to reduce the damages from overload events, a combination of structural protection measures with additional, nonstructural measures is required. Based on data collected through a literature review, a questionnaire survey, expert interviews, and an expert workshop we highlight the status quo as well as key challenges of dealing with residual risks and cases of overload in Alpine countries in the context of geohydrological hazards and gravitational mass movements. We present a holistic conceptual framework that describes the relationships of residual risks, cases of overload, and protection goals in the context of both risk governance and integrated risk management. This framework is valuable for decision makers aiming at an improved management of natural hazards that takes adequate account of residual risk and cases of overload in Alpine countries and mountain areas worldwide.
Advancing the Field of Disaster Response Management: Toward a Design Science Approach
Tove Frykmer, Henrik Tehler, Christian Uhr, Misse Wester
2021, 12(2): 220-231. doi: 10.1007/s13753-021-00330-0
Multiorganizational response to emergencies and disasters requires collaboration. How to improve the collective response is therefore an essential question, but not easy to answer. In disaster research, normative research with a focus on providing evidence for how to improve professional practice has traditionally received less attention than explanatory ones. The aim of this article, using insights from design science where normative research is more common, is to suggest a complementary approach to response management research. Our approach, which combines experimental and explanatory research, is applied to a study of goal alignment. Goal alignment among response actors is often recommended despite literature’s contradictory evidence regarding its effect. We conducted an experiment with 111 participants, who, in groups of three, played a computer game under one of two conditions (goal alignment or not). Our results show that aligning goals did not improve the outcome in the game. Although this may serve as a counterargument to implementing goal alignment interventions, there are concerns with such conclusions. These reservations include, but are not limited to, the lack of validated models to use in experiments. Nevertheless, our suggested research approach and the goal alignment experiment highlight the importance of testing interventions and their effectiveness before implementation.
Extreme Climate and Absence from Work: Evidence from Jamaica
Nekeisha Spencer, Mikhail-Ann Urquhart
2021, 12(2): 232-239. doi: 10.1007/s13753-020-00327-1
This study investigated the impact of extreme climate events on work absence in Jamaica. To this end, we constructed a quarterly individual level dataset on labor market and climatic data for 2004–2014. We find that while excess rainfall increases the odds of being temporarily absent from work, heat is unlikely to have an effect. The estimated outcome of excess rainfall is reasonable given the possibility of flooded roads, which can impede travel to work. This draws attention to the development of e-commuting policies to mitigate any negative effects on productivity.
The Nature–Culture Distinction in Disaster Studies: The Recent Petition for Reform as an Opportunity for New Thinking?
Gideon van Riet
2021, 12(2): 240-249. doi: 10.1007/s13753-021-00329-7
This article constructively challenges the often cited distinction between the so-called hazard and vulnerability perspectives in disaster studies. In a context of increasingly intertwined, dense, and complex socioecological dynamics, disaster scholars often hold onto an apparently untenable distinction between nature and culture, manifested as either a hazard or a vulnerability approach. This article maintains that the typically undesired approach (the hazard approach) is inherent to the preferred (vulnerability) perspective. The article builds on Oliver-Smith’s (2013) critique of the magnitude of requirements placed upon practitioners given the full implications of the vulnerability perspective. Although critical of the vulnerability perspective, this article does not fundamentally disagree with the validity of its claims. Instead, by drawing on the pragmatist philosophy of Rorty (1989) and by demonstrating the potential value of posthumanism for disaster studies, I wish to argue for greater pragmatism within disaster scholarship. The article considers the recent petition or manifesto for disaster studies (Gaillard et al. 2019) for more inclusive disaster research as a potential opportunity to challenge the aforementioned nature–culture distinction in the field, as the petition signed by a number of disaster scholars outlines various concerns over the asymmetrical power relations between local and external researchers. These power relations have adverse consequences for the appropriateness of knowledge production in many contexts. I am primarily concerned with the very local level of disaster occurrence, where posthumanism might be most valuable.
Long-Term Improvement in Precautions for Flood Risk Mitigation: A Case Study in the Low-Lying Area of Central Vietnam
Cong Dinh Nguyen, Fumikazu Ubukata, Quang Tan Nguyen, Hoang Ha Vo
2021, 12(2): 250-266. doi: 10.1007/s13753-020-00326-2
Local actors appear as inseparable components of the integrated flood risk mitigation strategy in Vietnam. Recognizing this fact, this study examined the long-term improvement in precautions taken by commune authorities and households between two major floods in 1999 and 2017 by applying both quantitative and qualitative methods. Two flood-prone villages were selected for a survey; one in a rural area and the other in a suburban area of Thua Thien Hue Province, central Vietnam. The findings indicate that most villagers doubted the structural works’ efficacy and were dissatisfied with the current efforts of local authorities. Households’ self-preparation thus became the decisive factor in mitigating risk. While most households have paid greater attention to flood precautions in 2017, others seem to be lagging. Poverty-related barriers were the root causes restraining households in both rural and suburban villages. The suburban riverine residents were further identified as vulnerable by their limitations in upgrading structural measures, which was ascribed to the inconsistency in the ancient town’s preservation policy. This multidimensional comparison, in terms of vulnerability, emphasized the importance of space-function links in the suburb and the contradictions of different policy initiatives, such as landscape rehabilitation, disaster prevention, and livelihood maintenance.
Evolution of Collaborative Governance in the 2015, 2016, and 2018 Myanmar Flood Disaster Responses: A Longitudinal Approach to a Network Analysis
Tin Myo Aung, Seunghoo Lim
2021, 12(2): 267-280. doi: 10.1007/s13753-021-00332-y
In disaster response, collaboration facilitates interactions among actors, such as the government, the military, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society organizations. This study examined the longitudinal changes in collaborative governance in Myanmar’s disaster responses based on cases of flooding in 2015, 2016, and 2018. To examine the mechanisms underlying this dynamic network formation, the collaborative ties of the actors involved in search and rescue activities were converted into longitudinal relational data sets, and the evolution of collaborative governance was analyzed by relying on the assumptions of social capital, transaction cost, homophily, and resource dependency theories and using a longitudinal social network analysis method. The findings show that the collaborative networks of search and rescue processes in disaster response evolved and changed over time according to the hypothesized patterns of strong, weak, and preferential tie formations. The study also revealed that the collaborative governance system assumes the form of a hierarchy rather than a generalized exchange, and the actors’ reliance on military organizations is not obvious due to the emerging alternative non-military actors and diverse local actors observed in the cases.
Farmers’ Demand for Informal Risk Management Strategy and Weather Index Insurance: Evidence from China
Yingmei Tang, Huifang Cai, Rongmao Liu
2021, 12(2): 281-297. doi: 10.1007/s13753-021-00335-9
In the absence of formal risk management strategies, agricultural production in China is highly vulnerable to climate change. In this study, field experiments were conducted with 344 households in Heilongjiang (Northeast China) and Jiangsu (East China) Provinces. Probit and logistic models and independent sample T-test were used to explore farmers’ demand for weather index insurance, in contrast to informal risk management strategies, and the main factors that affect demand. The results show that the farmers prefer weather index insurance to informal risk management strategies, and farmers’ characteristics have significant impacts on their adoption of risk management strategies. The variables non-agricultural labor ratio, farmers’ risk perception, education, and agricultural insurance purchase experience significantly affect farmers’ weather index insurance demand. The regression results show that the farmers’ weather index insurance demand and the influencing factors in the two provinces are different. Farmers in Heilongjiang Province have a higher participation rate than those in Jiangsu Province. The government should conduct more weather index insurance pilot programs to help farmers understand the mechanism, and insurance companies should provide more types of weather index insurance to meet farmers’ diversified needs.
Correction to: Inherent Complexities of a Multi-stakeholder Approach to Building Community Resilience
Josephine Adekola, Denis Fischbacher-Smith, Moira Fischbacher-Smith
2021, 12(2): 298-298. doi: 10.1007/s13753-021-00334-w