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4. Objective, Methodology and Scope

The objective of this review is to demonstrate whether, on the basis of literature available, local institutions play a role in natural DRM at the household and at several institutional levels, and, if they do, to understand how this occurs, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the actors and stakeholders involved in increasing DRM capacity at several levels. Achieving this objective implied:

This literature review focuses less on the myriad of “informal” local institutions that are also standard local practices such as those derived from custom (like, e.g., certain context-specific agricultural traditions within a given farming system that have evolved and become adapted over many generations to suit local exposure to potential natural disasters[4]). In looking at existing local institutions, emphasis was placed on those with relatively more potential to bridge the mitigation-development continuum, and microfinance institutions (MFIs) were singled out as promising to that effect.

With respect to natural disasters, the present paper concentrates on rapid onset phenomena such as floods, hurricanes, snowstorms and earthquakes and their associated effects (e.g., landslides, heavy rains, etc.), rather than slow onset phenomena such as droughts, or some other often protracted events such as rodents, predators and pests, or human and animal epidemics - which is another reason for more examples coming from Asia and Latin America rather than from Africa. Neither included are volcanic eruptions, because of their more localised effects, nor bush and grassland fires and other such events, because these are mostly man-made (and thus not ‘purely natural’), rather than predominantly meteorological and seismic in origin[5].

The secondary data collected comes from all developing regions and sources; the way to access the material has been mostly through the internet, where a range of studies, project documents, strategy briefs, newsletters, etc. has been downloaded in either English, French, Spanish, Portuguese or German. Other information was provided by colleagues working in or with projects that contain DRM components.

[4] In this way, the huge question of local institutions governing access to and use of land is avoided - although these contribute to tenure (in)security and (dis)incentives for investments in DRM.
[5] The ‘Working Concept’ Note of the GTZ (German Bilateral Cooperation) lists the following as a “hazard posed by pure natural phenomena”: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and seaquakes, storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, heat and cold waves, and tsunamis; the following are classified as a “hazard also due to human intervention”: floods, droughts, forest fires, landslides, avalanches (2002: p17). Although floods are featured in the list of ‘hazards also due to human intervention’, they are included in the present review both because of their relative importance in terms of disaster risk and because they often follow ‘purely natural’ events such as earthquakes and seaquakes.

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