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3.1 General Lessons: Specification of Working Hypotheses

Case study findings and workshop discussions confirmed the basic assumption that locally organized preventive as well as responsive action to disasters could be very powerful to limit damage and losses, and that they are crucial to complement higher level activities in emergencies (see matrix on page 12). They also confirmed that what is lacking is a good understanding about local experiences and knowledge and concrete guidance on how to strengthen the role of local government and community-based organizations in DRM and improve their ways of communication and active interaction.

The data and workshop discussions indicate that local institutions and organizations are key actors with comparative strengths for DRM as outlined in the initial pre-study working hypotheses (page 10). LOCAL institutions derive their strengths from proximity, responsiveness to social pressures and adaptation. However, to be verifiable, these hypotheses should include the following additional considerations:

- The conventional disaster cycle used by FAO (Annex 5) has only limited value for integration between disaster risk management and longer-term development. The focus of the disaster cycle is on the management of the different phases and not on integration of risk into long-term development planning and management. Hazards and disasters are not problems that can be solved in isolation. Hazard risk needs to be linked with natural resource management and economic and social resiliency, within a long-term perspective.

- Local institutions need the appropriate frameworks/enabling environment to function. Local actors often act without a mandate from central level. Concrete/effective action at local level requires a mandate for them from central level and a revenue system which also allows for resource mobilization at local level. The central administration/government is the key actor in policy formulation. DRM requires a combination of “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches to reduce risk and make disaster response and rehabilitation more effective. Effective coordination systems benefit from decentralized governance, once clearly defined roles of local government are in place. Critical aspects include: (i) devolution of responsibilities; (ii) appropriate budget allocations; (iii) institutions at different levels and in different sectors that are mutually supportive (vertical and horizontal coordination); (iv) clear definition of tasks; (v) strong partnerships with civil society and the private sector; (vi) integration with sectoral development plans.

- The functioning and comparative strengths of local institutions depend upon the type and scale of natural disasters. There is a threshold beyond which local institutions are no longer able to prepare for and respond effectively to a disaster. While recurrent natural disasters are better managed at the local level, exceptional/extreme events also require support from the national/local government and international community. Furthermore, while human-induced components of disaster response imply a focus on institutional capacity-building, some elements of the natural hazard management, in particular agricultural risk adaptation practices, are better managed through conventional technical assistance/transfer of technology practices, thus stressing the important link of DRM to agricultural extension.

- Another pre-requisite for effective DRM is its integration with natural resource management and long-term rural development, particularly in the areas of land use and watershed management. Natural disasters are often a consequence of inappropriate natural resource management and there is often a clash between local DRM strategies and practices and national development policies strategies; these issues need to be addressed at central government level and require negotiation and participation at local level.

- Partnerships between local government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and community groups are more effective and need fostering than single institutions working independently. This is particularly evident in the areas of: natural resource management, financial services and conflict management.

- Social capital is the key factor ensuring immediate responses to disasters (saving lives and moving people to safer grounds, providing emergency food and shelter) and has a very important role also in the rehabilitation phase (credit, mutual support in reconstruction work), especially when there is no formal system in place. However, spontaneous initiatives related to the prevention and preparedness for disasters and risk are rare. Mitigation measures normally require support from formal institutions. Adaptation strategies to recurrent small-scale hazards are common but extreme events are often perceived as “acts of God” and no preventive measure is taken. All case studies provided evidence that local social capital plays a key role in immediate relief operations. Where there is no official coordinating mechanism the local community carries out all rescue and relief functions on the basis of its informal networks. Emergency relief operations can be “used” to facilitate the recognition of the role of local social capital by: a) allocating roles and responsibilities in the distribution of relief goods and provision of relief services; b) identifying policy and legislation gaps; c) providing local and national government support to develop normative frameworks which would capitalize on local informal networks.

3.2 Specific Lessons: Comparative Strengths of Key Actors in DRM

Building on the initial steps taken in the literature review, the case studies and workshop succeeded in further defining the key actors in DRM, as well as their functions and comparative strengths. Key issues are summarized in Table 1 (see next page)

Table 1. The Comparative Strengths of Local Institutions in DRM and Lessons Learned (Trends and findings relating to the working hypotheses emerging from the case studies)




Central and Provincial Government is a key actor in:

Policy Development

· Setting the normative framework for:

a) Integration of DRM and NRM
b) Land tenure/use patterns
c) Devolution of responsibilities to local level
d) Participatory processes in policy development and implementation.
e) Overall coordination among line ministries and levels of government
f) Cross-sectoral communication and Integration.
g) Establishing decision making systems for emergencies
h) Monitoring
i) Infrastructural development


· Undertaking scientific surveys and assessments for disaster mitigation, record - disseminate information of disaster impact and losses Disseminating guidelines

Capacity Building

· Coordinating design and promoting training & capacity-building programmes for government agencies officials, local government Initiating public information campaigns
· Integrating core DRM concepts in school curricula in high risk areas

Providing/promoting basic instruments

· Providing guidelines for Contingency Planning and mechanisms to capture remittances/resources for relief and rehabilitation.
· Setting-up national early warning systems and supplying appropriate information and communication technology, equipment and training
· Promoting/sponsoring large scale awareness raising programmes (media. Schools, extension services).
· Establishing, management and monitoring national food stocks/reserves.

· Coordination of relief operations among National and Provincial Government and with International Donors.
· Providing additional resources (special transport, relief goods, and specialized staff) during extreme events.
· Infrastructure rehabilitation

Resource Mobilization

· Releasing additional national financial resources through Relief Funds, Calamity Funds etc.
· Raising additional resources with International Donors
· Central Banks can open flexible credit systems in times of crisis and back stop local credit schemes. Credit Payments and taxes rescheduled (longer term and adjusted to the harvest season).

Monitoring and Evaluation

· Evaluating rehabilitation process and trends for demand responsive policy (re)formulation

Local Government (Municipality and lower) is a key actor in:

Local coordination and Implementation

· Operationalizing integrated development programmes incorporating DRM components.
· Promoting participatory planning and enabling civil society to implement programmes
· Establishing Inter-municipal Agreements: early warning, watershed management, post-disaster foreign aid coordination.
· Recognition and registration of land use rights.
· Development/implementation of mechanisms to capture remittances for rehabilitation.
· Payments for environmental services.
· Facilitating conflict resolution between resource users.
· Infrastructure maintenance

Capacity-building and Awareness Raising

· Implement capacity building/training programmes on DRM for civil servants and local leaders
· Implementing awareness raising programmes on natural hazards risks

Resource Mobilization

· Partnerships development with CS/private sector
· Seeking external support when local resources are not sufficient (national government, twinning arrangements, private sector, donors)
· Mechanisms for paying environmental services.

Monitoring and Assessment

· Pre-disaster vulnerability and preparedness-needs assessment (jointly with civil society)

Local coordination & Implementation

· Setting-up Local Coordination Bodies (Disaster Coordination Committees/Councils) including government line-function departments, civil society representation and private sector.
· Training/Advising CBOs on DRM

Contingency Planning

· Developing and operationalizing regularly Contingency Plans

Early warning

· Collecting and evaluating information at local level, declaration of state of emergency
· Assuring dissemination of alerts to people and responsible officials

Local coordination & Implementation

· Coordination of disaster operations activities and relief (evacuation, relief goods, health services and transport).
· Local DRM mechanisms are effective for annual/routine flooding, exceptional events require national support.
· Communication and coordination with national bodies
· Coordination and channeling of foreign aid
· Planning and Coordination of rehabilitation efforts

Monitoring and Assessments

· Submitting damage reports to higher government levels
· Monitoring of relief goods distribution (with others)
· Post-disaster needs assessment (with civil society)

Fund raising and releasing of funds

· Releasing rehabilitation funds/reserves.
· Raising funds with donors and advocacy with national government for rehabilitation resources.

Other locally operating organizations (NGOs, CBOs, Cooperatives Local Business ...) are key actors in:

Natural Resource Management (NRM)

· Conservation policies without local participation perceived as hostile by the Community (Vietnam). Effective when local users/private sector role is institutionalized (Fishermen and Irrigators Association in Philippines, Community-Based Watershed Management in Honduras).
· Traditional pastoral organizations are normally based on the principle of collective action for collective benefit. Under the collective systems on NRM there are strong incentives for acting for the collective good. Deep understanding of drought prone ecosystems and related risk management strategies (Iran, Burkina-Faso, Niger).

Conflict Management

· Mixed conflict resolution systems (local government, traditional leadership, pastoralists /agriculturalists representatives) are functioning in Niger, and Burkina Faso. These are better set up by civil society organizations and need refinement.

Savings and Credit

· Credit schemes are more efficient when administered at community level (Burkina). However local cooperatives and associations in times of severe crisis may need back up from national banks to ensure availability of credit. Often cooperatives managed by government are accused of corruption and inefficiency (Iran).
· Lack of access to credit is a major issue for poorest, due to collateral requirements (Philippines, Vietnam,) or lack of facilities in remote areas (general).

Local Level Capacity Building

· Support in establishing and training of local disaster management committees and on contingency planning (including technical support for early warning systems)
· Training volunteers in first aid and emergency relief (In case studies often undertaken by national Red Cross)
· Training of HH on disaster mitigation measures (crops and housing)
· Implement awareness raising/public information campaigns (in partnership with local government)

Advocacy and bottom-up policy information

· Unions of Pastoralists Associations created in Niger in 2001 have been important local actors in: representation of pastoralists within administration; fight against food insecurity; protection of animal health and NRM and conflict management.

(Local) Early Warning Systems

· The National Communication System is often paralysed during disaster.
· Local institutions (village level) are the most effective in reaching out to community in disseminating alert. Examples of (relatively) efficient EWS capitalizing on existing CBOs (Youth and Farmer Associations +Red Cross in Vietnam, Fishermen Council, Irrigators Association and Local Radio in Philippines).
· Centralized sophisticated EWS fail to reach the community (South Africa). Mixed EWS can complement the weaknesses of national and local systems: national level (weather and scientific parameters) local level (on the ground monitoring, informal local knowledge). Examples: Philippines, Honduras, Niger
· In remote areas, with limited institutional presence/capacity, schools can be the entry point of early warning systems: teacher-student-family link (Mozambique).


· All studies highlight that distribution should be co-managed with civil society with transparent assessment criteria established in partnership with local government.
· Regional/National Relief Funds & Food Distribution without standard assessment procedures result in ambiguity in entitlement to emergency assistance/food aid (Social relief Funds/South Africa, Food Aid in Burkina) or simply is not commensurate to vulnerability (Vietnam).
· Coordination mechanisms are effective when capitalizing on existing local organizations (Vietnam/Mass Organizations, Philippines/Users Association and Volunteer Body).
· CBOs are most efficient in rescue but they need training.


· In most cases when phasing out of relief, socio-economic rehabilitation (asset rehabilitation, income generating activities, awareness and training) initiatives are handed over to international/national or local NGOs.

Local Level Capacity Building

· Advice and training about locally suitable livelihood adaptation options to increase future resilience

Social capital, informal norms and accumulated community experience and knowledge

Community Experience/Knowledge

a) Risk Management

· Livelihood diversification strategies
· Migration patterns including transhumance

b) Natural Resource Management

· Livestock and crop breeding
· Rangeland management/rehabilitation

Infrastructure Maintenance

Volunteer community labour in infrastructure maintenance is a practice in some countries (dykes/Vietnam, protection work for micro basin/Honduras).


Informal processes are not always effective as they embed the danger of politicization and clientelistic influences and often favors the most powerful, wealthy and influential.


· The pastoralists’ strategy to manage drought and conflicts was based on reciprocity principles among pastoralists.

  • Tacit agreements based on kinship and alliances (among pastoralists and with agriculturalists).
  • Access to village wells was negotiated between pastoralists and sedentary population.

· Reciprocity is decreasing significantly between farmers-herders due to tendency towards privatization of wells (Iran, Niger)
· Risk managers in vulnerable ecosystems are often pressurized to adopt profit maximization strategies instead of “traditional” risk minimization strategies

Early warning

· Early warning does often not reach remote areas. Communities use their traditional knowledge to predict the coming of hazards. They know the period of the year when floods, cyclones and drought are likely to occur. However, the uncharacteristic nature of extreme events is not predictable at community level (in general).
· The only functioning, effective mechanism to inform and warn poor households living in specifically risk prone areas such as on river banks is when communities are organized to do it themselves
· Pastoralists have sophisticated mechanisms to predict drought on the basis of which migratory itinerary and timing is (was) decided (Iran, Burkina Faso, Niger).

Extreme Events Interpretation

Marginalized communities, with weak community organizations and limited access to local authorities, normally do not benefit from official relief mechanisms and rely solely on their social networks (South Africa, Burkina Faso). They will often demonstrate an inherent ownership of risk and have no expectations on support from local institutions (Argentina, Iran, and South Africa).

Immediate Relief Operations

Immediate Relief operations rely highly on social capital/informal mechanism, for life saving operations, removal to safer grounds and provision of food and shelter.

Informal/traditional leadership

Informal/traditional leadership often leads coordination of response (Vietnam, Iran). Although they have a very positive role in coordination and often compensate the lack of formal support they are rarely included in the formal coordination systems. Because they have sometimes been accused of nepotism and favoritism in relief goods distribution the establishment of committees with civil society representation is recommended (Mozambique)

Voluntary Rescue Bodies

Volunteer Rescue and Emergency Body can be established with local government resources (Philippines) or external support (Mozambique).

Redistribute relief assistance to most vulnerable

· Social networks provide mutual support and act as a conduit to the poor. Communities normally help their members in post-disaster recovery/asset rebuilding by:

  • rebuilding destroyed homes
  • re-stocking pastoralists herds
  • donating seeds
  • plot and harvest sharing.

· Wage labour/migration is a resource in times of disaster. Remittances sustain hh in times of crisis.

The case studies provided a range of examples of good practices which, of course, are most meaningful if seen in the overall context of the specific cases. A reading of the case studies is therefore recommended, each of which shows some good practice examples on some aspects of DRM. All case studies, however, also showed some gaps. The case sample chosen in the Philippines, which is Dumangas Municipality, (which cannot be taken as representative for the Philippines in general) could be considered as the most comprehensive good practice sample among all 9 case studies, for an operational local DRM system which is well embedded in and supported by a national DRM system.

The comparative analysis of the case studies highlights that the following aspects are key requirements for effective local DRM systems/mechanisms:

- Enabling legal frameworks
- Social capital formation
- Integration between DRM and natural resource management
- Conflict resolution over natural resources
- Disaster preparedness and contingency planning
- Financial services factoring risks associated to natural disasters
- Early warning systems and reach out strategies
- Vertical and horizontal communication and cooperation linkages
- Coordination mechanisms at and between levels
- Community training and public awareness.

3.3.1 Good Practice Examples: Institutional Aspects of Successful DRM

The following are some good practice examples, which were identified at the workshop in relation to the above key requirements of DRM. They were considered striking, even if taken out of their individual, country specific contexts.

Enabling legal frameworks

In the Philippines a Presidential Decree of 1999 mandates the establishment of a Municipal and Baraguay (ward) Disaster Coordination Council. It is the basis for the Dumangas Municipality (Ilo-Ilo Province) to build its disaster risk management strategy on existing social capital. Since 1999 a series of Municipal level policies have been designed to respond to the need for more active and sustained support to the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council. Municipal Executive and Administrative Orders have established a voluntary rescue and emergency assistance movement (DREAM) and local councils to institutionalize the role of major stakeholders in natural resource management and DRM.

Social Capital Formation

All case studies provide evidence that informal safety nets play a crucial role especially in the emergency/recovery phase. This is especially true in remote areas where official government support is very limited or non existent. Informal social networks played an important role in Buzi, Mozambique, during the 2000 flooding. In most cases the emergency response was initially taken by people organized along their informal social networks. Small private boats belonging to fishermen were used for evacuation of vulnerable people from flooded areas to safer places.

The town of Volcan in Argentina is subject to recurrent mud-slides and floods. Because the municipality is dramatically under-resourced, the early warning, evacuation and recovery are in the hands of the community. The population monitors the mountain and according to climate conditions can predict when it is going to become dangerous. When heavy rains come the population is alert, and a loud acoustic signal warns them once evacuation is recommended. When people hear the noise they run to higher and protected grounds, and men gather at the entrance of the valley to build barriers to prevent the mud slide moving into town. Household tools and machinery are used to remove the sediments. The community supports those households which have suffered severe damage of their houses and helps with the re-building while remittances from migrants assist relatives in the recovery phase.

Natural Resource Management and Disaster Prevention and Mitigation

The Honduras case study describes two good examples of the positive impact of effective natural resource management on disaster mitigation. In the Atlantida Department, since the 1980’s the inhabitants of the community of El Naranjal initiated a process of appropriation of their water source and developed a participatory strategy in the management of the micro basin. The Joint Water Administration Board (JAA) focuses on the participatory management of the micro basin and is responsible for: a) protecting the micro basin which provides water for the community; b) the water collection and distribution system; c) its administration and maintenance through voluntary work. The micro basin’s financial administration is based on the establishment of a community reserve account: all the households are obligated to pay a monthly fee for the service. Members of the community believe that the impact of Hurricane Mitch was minimized due to the state of protection of the micro-basin.

In the Department of Lempira long drought periods followed by a period of damaging rains, at the end of the 1980’s, had exhausted the local productive resources. In the early 1990s a rehabilitation programme supported by FAO reintroduced, and re-adapted, a local agro forestry system known as “Quesungual”. The system is mainly characterized by a combination of basic grains (corn, maicillo and beans) sown directly on stubble, and dispersed trees. The Quesungual System is characterized by lower rates of erosion due to the improvement of the vegetation cover, the lack of farming, the increase in biomass from the roots, the variation in the soil’s porosity and the absence of burning. The vegetation cover on the hillside is an essential element in the management of resources at the level of the micro-basin and the control of the hydraulic cycles. Additionally, the system produces a part of the family’s need for wood and therefore it reduces the pressure on the micro-basin’s natural vegetation.

Conflict Resolution and DRM

Complex, multiple and often conflicting user rights arising from customary and formal law often result in conflicts among farmers and herders or among different tribal groups. Land tenure legislation and conflict management strategies are critical especially in drought prone areas.

In Niger traditional leaders have been designated by the formal administration to reconcile conflicts at the local level according to customary law and are paid by the administration to provide such services. If the traditional leadership fails the reconciliation powers are transferred to the local government representative. The Commisions Foncières d’Arrondissement (District Land Commission) was created within the Rural Code Orientation Law of 1993 with the mandate of preventing conflicts through recognition and registration of land rights. It is composed of representatives of major groups involved in reconciliation (Sous-Préfet, rural extensionists, traditional leader, representatives of pastoral and agriculturalists’ associations, and of youth and women’s groups). It has consultative and decision-making power regarding land allocation.

Disaster preparedness and contingency planning

The Philippines case study in Dumangas provided a good sample of regular, integrated disaster preparedness planning (see matrix in Annex 4). Another example derived from the literature review is Costa Rica, where more than 60 Local Emergency Committees exist at the local administrative level of the ‘canton’, composed of the delegates of various institutions, with each member being assigned a role in case of an emergency. These bodies are represented in Regional Committees. The local committees are facilitators of community mobilisation and organisation. Their activities spectrum includes the inventory of resources available to deal with emergencies and the establishment of several brigades (rescue, first aid, food distribution, transport, etc.). These activities lead to the drafting of Local or Regional Emergency Plans, which provide the population with information on where to go in case of an evacuation alarm, who will assist and who will be supported, and which other activities are to be undertaken also. Only a few institutions are, however, represented permanently on the committees, which limit their possibilities of planning and action. Nevertheless, a significant correlation between the existence of Local Emergency Committees and contingency planning seems to exist: examples of regularly practiced contingency planning were only found in situations where Local Emergency Committees do exist.

Financial Services and Revenue Systems Factoring Risk Associated to Natural Hazards

Access to credit in the post-disaster phase was identified by all case studies as one of the most critical elements to facilitate rehabilitation and long-term risk prevention. The case studies and the literature review assessed and compared different types (government, private, informal) of Credit/Financial Services:

In the Philippines, local government manages a Local Calamity Fund (LCF), set aside by the local government from remittances (5%) as annual lump sum appropriations for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and other works and services in connection with calamities which may occur during the budget year. The municipal development fund comes from the 20 percent of the internal revenue allotment (IRA) from the national government. The IRA is appropriated to local government units proportionate with the population and land area. This development fund supports the municipality’s programmes in the agriculture, health, social welfare, infrastructure, environmental management, disaster preparedness, tourism and youth sectors, including the appropriation of development funds for each of the 45 barangays. Recognizing that disaster management is a key component of development, the municipal mayor utilizes the development funds to support disaster management in the relevant sectors (e.g. rehabilitation of roads and drainage systems from the infrastructure sector appropriation, medical missions from the health sector appropriation, etc.). In line with the Local Government Code, barangays (wards) have their own calamity fund (5% of the barangay income) for disaster relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. When available funds are not sufficient to meet their needs, external assistance from the municipal government is sought. Furthermore, the Local Economic Council (Local Business Council, representing local SMEs) provides loans and goods in times of disaster to overcome the delays of the Government Funds bureaucracy.

In Vietnam, levels of compensation for households affected by disasters are, in principle, set by official government guidelines. These are issued through the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA). They establish minimum levels of compensation for a death or injury in the family, and for damages to or losses of property and crops. According to MOLISA representatives in Hanoi, each province must put aside a yearly budget to enable it to compensate households at least to these minimum levels.

The law on water resources provides that funds for prevention, response, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities for water-related emergencies (flood, drought, saltwater intrusion, hail and acid rain) would come from the State budget, the reserve State budget, local funds contributed by the population, and assistance from foreign organizations and individuals. People are asked to contribute one kilogram of paddy per labourer annually (or its cash equivalent). Amounts raised are sent up to higher levels (percentages retained at district and provincial levels) to be used for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction following floods and storms. The commune does not retain any percentage.

Local level funds for disaster relief and household social assistance are also raised by mass organizations such as the Women’s Union, Veterans’ Association and Agricultural Cooperatives through the contribution of members. These, however, may be accessed by members only.

Furthermore, a number of lessons emerge from the literature review. The microfinance sector is in need of disaster response and recovery policies such as a flexible credit policy for disaster recovery, while debt forgiveness should be an option of last resort. A lesson learnt concerns the setting up of new MFIs as a post-disaster response, which has largely been found ineffective. Among existing MFIs those concerned should themselves periodically test the effectiveness of their DRM strategies and need to prepare for worst case scenarios by applying a comprehensive approach to risk management, and integrating disaster risk management strategies into their operations and organisational culture. They tend to find it easier to succeed in these operations if they can avail themselves of committed and easy to deploy field staff, whilst their geographical diversification through a wide network allows them to cross-subsidise for DRM. Micro-lending programmes should not mix loans and grants - the latter should be provided by a different organisation - and the solidarity group lending methodology is not suitable for home improvement loans. For poor communities, savings and emergency funds are better than insurance (Messer 2003).

Micro-finance institutions and staff can also assume relevant additional roles during the emergency and relief phase. Pro-Mujer is a medium-sized institution in Nicaragua with direct international links providing financial and non-financial services such as basic health services and technical assistance in business skills to about 5,800 women. After hurricane Mitch devastated the region in October 1998, it assumed a relief agency role as, for about two weeks, the focal centres of Pro-Mujer became relief facilities. Pro-Mujer staff temporarily stopped credit and training operations, postponed disbursements to new associations, and used training centres to counsel clients and distribute food donations. Moreover, it quickly managed to deploy trainers who could teach clients and their families hygienic strategies and preventive health measures for a post-disaster situation. Pro-Mujer staff also worked directly with clients to determine their needs and reassure them that the programme would continue, and brought in a consultant to conduct workshops on emotional recovery (Pantoja in Messer 2003).

Customary cooperation mechanisms compensate the most affected households especially if no formal credit system is in place. In pastoral North-West China, for example, this may involve encouraging the institution of grassland user rights or short-term renting and leasing among affected and non-affected households during the risk recovery period, possibly under the coordination of traditional village leaders. During the recovery following snow disasters, there are also inter-household cooperative actions, especially within herders groups, i.e. sharing the pasture of the less affected households, providing storage fodder or hay and female yaks for reproduction to those households which were most severely damaged. During such cooperation, herder's group leaders, production team leaders and village leaders can coordinate and accelerate the process of recovery (Liu Y. et al. in Messer 2003). Similar mechanisms are in place among the Qashqai nomadic communities of Iran.

Early Warning Systems

Early warning systems have been identified in all case studies as a critical component of preparedness. However the studies highlight that the focus on institutional set-up is not sufficient; the system needs to include appropriate reach out strategies; “hybrid” systems (including traditional and modern prediction techniques) proved to be quite effective in this regard.

The Burkina Faso case study describes two parallel (traditional/formal) drought prediction systems in the Dantchadi Area. The Marabouts’ astrological knowledge is used to predict yearly production and influences decisions on agricultural activities. In some areas traditional prediction knowledge of natural phenomena is shared among most adult villagers. Formally the Comité de Coordination de l’Information is in charge of early warning. It collects its information through village-based agricultural technicians who use rainfall gauges, information records and growth plots, and feed the information to upper levels.

In Niger the Systeme d’alerte précoce et de gestion des catastrophes nationales (SAP/GC) is the national body responsible for early warning and disaster management. It is a decentralized structure (has an office in every District) whose mandate is to collect information on food crisis risk, formulate and implement action. It is composed by the Vice-Préfect, the Head of Agricultural Services, traditional leaders and representatives of local associations. The assessment is undertaken by the local administration and traditional leaders, the final lists of beneficiaries are negotiated among the two. The list is endorsed at regional level and communicated to the national office. These lists are often problematic as negotiation is sometimes subject to manipulation and results in favouring certain zones rather than others perhaps more or equally in need. It is responsible for food distribution at favourable prices and management of Cereal and Forage Banks.

The Dumangas Municipality in the Philippines has a very efficient “three source” early warning system based on information from: a) the national forecast agency (weather parameters); b) local irrigation authorities (hydrological parameters); and c) communities (river level monitoring).

Vertical and horizontal communication and cooperation linkages

In Vietnam Representatives of Mass Organizations are members of the local (commune level) Committees for Flood and Storm Control (CFCS). These organizations have been established in the 1930s to link between the Communist Party, the Government and the people; are far reaching and therefore have great effect on social and community mobilization. Through the CFCS, or independently, mass organizations are actively involved in disaster preparedness, relief and rehabilitation in the following way: a) Vietnam Fatherland Front: calls for and channels emergency donations; b) Women’s Union: distributes relief goods and assistance, rebuilds houses, extends credit to its members; c) Youth Union: disseminates warnings, supports in evacuation and rescue; d) Veterans’ Association: assessment of damage; e) Farmer’s Association: provides counseling and facilitation in preparedness and rehabilitation activities; f) Vietnam Red Cross: manages 40 disaster preparedness centres and provides training to key staff

Coordination Mechanisms

The Philippines and Vietnam case studies provide two good practice examples of formal DRM set up at national, provincial and local government level. The two systems also provide an interesting insight on strategies for social capital formation and inclusion in the local government coordination mechanisms (details in the case study matrixes in Annex 4). They are spearheading a general finding which is that among all stakeholders in DRM, local Governments have a strong comparative advantage to lead in DRM coordination (not so strong though on relief/response).

In some cases also large and respected NGOs are well equipped to bring together different government and non government actors to deal with DRM challenges. An example is Gujarat/India where the post-disaster assistance of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) was very well received due to several factors: first, SEWA had very good knowledge of the area and its population, as it had been working in the affected areas for over ten years. Second, it had experience in previous disasters and an extensive grass-roots network of women members throughout the most affected areas that made a rapid and effective disaster response highly feasible. Third, thanks to its solid reputation and institutional influence, SEWA rapidly managed to obtain tents, medical aid and supplies from specialised agencies. In fact, some agencies like UNICEF and WFP, and the government of the State of Gujarat, channelled relief aid through SEWA. The State Government in particular gave SEWA cash, in addition to food packets and medical aid, to be passed on to affected members. Fourth, the decentralised and well coordinated nature of its relief distribution network enabled SEWA to provide adequate and timely assistance (Messer 2003).

SEWA has also been able to tackle the challenge of interdisciplinary reactions to disaster very well. Since the earthquake-affected districts were experiencing a second consecutive drought year when the earthquake hit, the challenge for SEWA was to ensure that the rehabilitation programme had a multi-hazard perspective covering seismic and cyclone resistant measures as well as drought mitigation measures, while continuing to provide drought relief. The disaster rehabilitation programme has managed to take advantage of several opportunities to integrate drought and earthquake mitigation measures into the reconstruction and rural development process. For example, increased availability of water has been provided by adding roof rain water harvesting structures to the new housing constructed through the shelter restoration programme. Simultaneously, to provide drought relief, a fodder security programme including dry fodder and cattle feed has also been established, and a housing shelter restoration programme following a participatory, owner-driven approach, was implemented.

Community Training and Awareness Raising

The comparative analysis of the case studies highlighted that there are very few relevant good experiences in community-based training and capacity-building for DRM.

The Mozambique case study describes an interesting experience of a GTZ - supported project in the Buzi District after the 2000 floods. The Gestão de Risco de Calamidades (GRC)/GTZ Project played an important role in Búzi especially in terms of response and post-disaster assistance. After the floods the GTZ participated in school and health centre rehabilitation, and assisted the Government in developing a local disaster risk management strategy. The strategy included: a) establishing local committees for risk management in the Búzi District; b) providing local communities with basic kits for improved early warning, rescue and response; c) promotion of workshops and training on disaster prevention, preparedness and better response; d) introduction of new agricultural techniques and new crops, or the re-establishment of local crops. In each community a committee, consisting of seven volunteer members, represents the GRC. This committee also works in coordination with local traditional authorities, mobilizing people living in low-lying areas to move to safer places.

In Honduras the focus was on the building of local governance structures that then were able to take on emergency roles when the situation required. In this sense several of the weaknesses identified here are beyond the specific issue of “disaster” and the construction of local democratically controlled institutions provides an institutional framework for disaster management, especially in the preventative phase and during the immediate emergency when only the local government is present to coordinate the request for external post-disaster interventions. In fact the creation of separate disaster structures in a majority of situations could be counterproductive. It needs to be part of the weave and woof of local institutionality as it has been traditionally in ecologically marginal societies.

3.3.2 Shortcomings of local institutions in DRM

The case studies have highlighted that local institutions are often not prepared to respond efficiently to emergencies. For example the 2000 floods and cyclones in Mozambique revealed that there were no clear programmes or plans for responding to the emergency - including preparedness, evacuation and response. Communities also did not anticipate an event of such magnitude, inhibiting appropriate responses, particularly to early warning. Some of the key aspects of institutional weaknesses identified for Mozambique, but applicable to most of the other case studies, are:

- lack of institutional coordination to respond situations of extreme need;

- weak mechanisms of communication between different levels of the administration;

- lack of efficient channels and mechanisms to disseminate information on natural hazard management to communities that really need that information;

- centralisation of decision-making at national level and nonflexible mechanisms for information flow from bottom-up. As a result, most of the decisions taken do not reflect the needs and expectations of the people on the ground;

- fragile and incompatible links between the different powers created in a context of new democratisation. At the local level there is no clear definition of roles between the traditional and administrative authorities; this sometimes results in conflict, which can have a negative effect on institutional coordination in disaster management;

- poor coordination with donors and incapability of challenging their conditions/impositions of how and where to provide support.

Another key aspect relates to transparency. Most of the case study authors have registered their preoccupation for the clientelistic dimensions of emergency relief distributions managed by the local authorities (formal and informal). This seems to be an area where “outsiders”’ have a comparative advantage although this needs to be complemented with local understanding of who are the most vulnerable groups and where their residence is. The recommendation arising from Niger, Burkina Faso and Iran is that vulnerability assessment and relief distribution should be co-managed between NGOs and the local community. This seems to be a specific manifestation of the broader issue of representation of marginal groups and seems to be particularly evident, for example, for pastoralist groups affected by drought.

Furthermore, while formal government institutions do not address the differential vulnerability of communities, the informal social networks act as a conduit to redistribute relief assistance to the most vulnerable during crisis periods. Since rehabilitation assistance is normally provided on the basis of absolute and not relative loss incurred by households, the poorer households incur disproportionately greater losses.

Weather-related shocks exacerbate the seasonal and income gaps which are often (where available) bridged by loans from different sources with varying interest rates. Most loans from the organized institutions like banks go to the better off and middle-income groups in rural communities. This is due to collateral requirements and poor people are forced to borrow money from relatives without interest or local money lenders with very high interest rates, especially during lean seasons. Small, locally-based micro finance institutions do not seem to be the most appropriate mechanisms for distributing credit to facilitate recovery in areas which are recurrently prone to natural disasters. Since local institutions that include very poor clients will tend to be more vulnerable to natural disasters, mostly a trade off exists between reaching poor (and disaster vulnerable) groups and financial sustainability.

Systematic disaster preparedness planning mechanisms to establish and regularly up-date contingency plans are rather the exception than common practice. Awareness-raising, practical training and guidelines are needed for local governments and communities, in particular, to create an environment in which disaster planning becomes a regular practice.

The most striking gap exists between DRM and rural development planning. The Philippines case study was the only one of the nine where DRM activities were clearly incorporated and in line with rural development planning.

3.4 Framework Conditions to Better Link DRM Systems with Rural Development

Integration between DRM systems and rural development policies can be tackled at different levels. General governance, poverty reductions and sustainable use of natural resources issues are the pre-conditions for effective DRM. However several framework conditions need to be in place or improved to further mitigate disaster impacts and build communities’ resilience against shocks. They include:

a) Policy Design:

® Inclusion of disaster prevention and mitigation components (and of vulnerability/risk analysis elements) in rural development plans and other sectoral plans (“retrofitting” of rural sector development projects with DRM components);

® Integrated land use and watershed management strategies. Promotion of co-operative planning among countries/municipalities in regional watershed management (example of Mozambique 2000 floods) and cross boundary risk management;

® National policy mandating for disaster risk reduction at local level and development of local DRM plans;

® Revenue system allowing for resource allocation to local Relief-Calamity Funds; budget allocations for prevention and mitigation; resource mobilization strategies (including twinning programmes between municipalities in the South and North bringing together resources and experiences); DRM strategies for micro-finance/credit institutions (rescheduling of compulsory savings and delays in repayments, emergency loans etc.);

® Development of post-disaster financial measures that can facilitate recovery (tax alleviation, credit payments reschedules etc.);

® Preparedness and response coordination systems included in local institutions;

® Link at the local/national level the representatives and interest groups of development with those of disaster management and establish alliances between different actors;

® Incentives identified for different actors to get involved in what would be defined as “good practice”. Disincentives designed for unsustainable practices.

b) Governance and Coordination:

® Central Government must acknowledge the role of local actors and provide an enabling normative framework;

® Establish cross-sectoral (horizontal) disaster coordination committees at local level (not necessarily new structures) and eventually add new specialized functions/services to existing structures;

® Design and operationalize emergency coordination mechanisms: contingency plans and evacuation plans, with clear definition of authority roles and responsibilities. These are normally more effective when designed at provincial level and below; when this is not the case the level of detail is not sufficient for translating recommendations into action;

® Effective vertical (higher level organizations support lower level) decision making mechanisms for times of emergency;

® Build the local capacity for immediate response (normally during the first four days all relief operations rely on the local community);

® Recognize and enhance local knowledge, specifically on: risk identification and monitoring, risk mitigation strategies, early warning, conflict resolution;

® Recognize and enhance the social safety nets, especially in the relief and rehabilitation phase. A key related governance issue which requires analysis is how to combine modern democratic institutions with traditional knowledge and livelihood and communication strategies and how to adapt traditional organizations to modern requirements (experiences reported in the Niger case study).

c) Adjust (Rethink) Emergency Relief:

® (Where possible) promote more consistency with long-term rural development objectives (rural development policies in disaster-prone areas to include sections on recommendations for emergency food aid distribution);

® Improve current Monitoring and Evaluation practices on relief operations (including impact on rural development);

® Identify relief interventions that support/sustain local livelihoods;

® Build an exit strategy, based on local sustainability, for all external relief interventions;

® Use emergency relief operations to generate momentum and the opportunity to rethink and foster long-term rural development.

d) Monitoring:

® Identify and monitor risk on a regular basis;

® Develop local risk indicators adapted to climate related changes;

® Undertake local vulnerability and needs assessments before and after hazards occur (including differentiated, but standardized vulnerability criteria) and mapping, and hazard risk diagnosis;

® Evaluate the consequences of development choices on disaster impact;

® Monitor and evaluate the impact of relief distributions;

® Measure the impact of a disaster in terms of loss of livelihoods and not loss of lives.

j) Key Services:

® Improve the local asset base: sustainable NRM strategies, appropriate technology development, stock reserves for emergencies, access to capital and markets, livelihood diversification, insurance mechanisms, improving existing buildings to increase their resilience against damage;

® Early Warning Systems including clear information dissemination practices and out-reach mechanisms to populations in remote areas. Mixed-formal and informal information systems and local radios proved to be the most efficient. Integrate scientific understanding of natural hazards with local knowledge and traditional beliefs;

® Improve understanding of how people interpret and respond to warnings.

k) Capacity-building and Public Awareness:

® All case studies show evidence of a lack of relevant capacity-building, public awareness and training activities on DRM at local level. Capacity-building efforts should target both government and civil society representatives and be site-specific. Examples of activities at different stages to increase local DRM capacity are listed in Annex 6. Information on disaster risk protection options should be provided to citizens in easily understood, ideally local language and through means appropriate to the local context.

l) Targeting Vulnerable Groups - An Example: Issues Specific to Pastoralism and Drought

Drought relief operations have consistently demonstrated the need for accountable community-based structures to oversee the implementation of emergency interventions, which also ensure that interventions are culturally acceptable. Such structures, which usually take on the form of committees, need to be legitimate. As emergency operations need to be swift and tend to involve at least some free distribution of assets of one kind or another, they are also more prone to corruption and bribes. Community-based structures thus need to include a rigorous selection of credible and trusted local individuals, who should be chosen by community members themselves. Issues specific to pastoralism are:

® Pastoralists Groups are often marginalized, their livelihood system not supported by government, and sometimes they are even openly discriminated against. Traditional tribal structures are often in conflict with modern (elected or appointed) local government. Hybrid organizations (combining traditional and modern representation principles and representatives of informal leadership and formal government) have the potential to overcome these conflicts. Policy reform is needed to recognize local institutions, including tribal institutions;

® Conflict resolution is a key aspect of NRM/DRM in many pastoralist communities; clear land tenure, use and allocation rights are necessary;

® Because of the political marginalization of pastoralists, technical capacity-building needs to be linked with empowerment (for example Farmer Field School Approaches and Experience could be modified and applied to the nomadic context);

® Local Veterinary Services are good entry points for programs involving pastoralists;

® Combined, institutionalized destocking and restocking mechanisms have high potential to counteract drought impacts, if applied at the on-set of drought;

® Early warning systems often do not reach pastoralists. Mixed information systems should be developed including traditional knowledge on drought prediction and coping strategies.

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