|A Research Agenda for Disaster and Emergency Management (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 76 p.)|
12.1 Any rank ordering of the multitude of research themes suggested in this agenda will depend to a large degree upon who is undertaking the ordering. This writer's ranking of priorities will invariably differ from a ranking by another academic, which in turn, would differ from rankings by professionals engaged in disaster management. Moreover, UNDP/UNDRO's support of any of the research topics proposed here will clearly be influenced by current disaster management needs, by donor concerns, by the constraints set by the two agency's mandates, by the feasibility of undertaking some projects, and by needs created by the Disaster Management Training Programme. Consequently, in this concluding section, the intent is only to isolate a small selection of the topics which, in this writers opinion, should be given highest priority for research in the near future. These are:
12.2 The development of a comprehensive inventory of developing country institutions and individuals with capacity and experience in disaster-related research (para. 2.9).
12.3 The identifications of factors which make populations vulnerable to hazards and the means of moderating such vulnerability - such research should take a comparative thrust and consider the constraints set by prevailing socio-economic parameters (para. 4.2) - and an examination, in the context of disaster preparedness and management, of how prevailing political and economic processes in developing world societies affect the ability to cope and respond to disasters (para. 4.4).
12.4 An assessment of what acceptable levels of risk are within the context of the options available to risk-prone populations (para. 4.5/4.6).
12.5 An anthropological study of hazard-adapted sub-cultures to identify more clearly the relationships between how people perceive risk and how they develop traditional local-level preparedness and mitigation strategies (para. 5.4).
12.6 An examination of the economic, social and psychological underpinnings of when and how people respond to early warning systems and how such responses vary with different hazards and among populations with varying resource entitlement (para. 6.6).
12.7 A study of how to mobilize effective early-warning systems to remote or inaccessible areas, especially when such areas are inhabited by technologically unsophisticated populations; how traditional early-warning systems operate; and how informal warning systems can build upon such traditional warning systems so as to provide a heightened level of preparedness among remote and poorly accessed populations (para. 6.7).
12.8 An evaluation of what is the existing and potential role of education systems in creating awareness of disaster preparation and mitigation strategies (para. 6.9/6.10).
12.9 A country specific research project in Bangladesh which is an assessment of the economic and social benefits which might accrue to rural Bangladesh were the capital resources currently slated for investment into the major facets of the 'Flood Action Plan' applied instead to basic rural development initiatives, which would almost certainly also include a number of non-structural flood-hazard mitigation measures (para. 7.3).
12.10 A study of how to mitigate the psychological impacts of prolonged exposure to hazards or high risk of disaster; do such long-term exposure to high risks create levels of resilience or of fatalism ? (para. 7.11).
12.11 The development of new policy frameworks for disaster and emergency assistance which go beyond traditional concepts; a concise but comprehensive set of principles and policy guidelines for disaster relief need to be formulated which can be universally applied to address critical needs created by any hazard and which are not limited to the immediate post-disaster situation but also integrate longer-term reconstruction (and development) requirements (para. 8.4).
12.12 A study of the inter-relationships between relief delivery mechanisms and the local power structures within which such mechanisms must operate (para. 8.6).
12.13 Because too many agencies continue to view relief and emergency assistance as an end in itself, policy research is urgently needed to help formulate a new paradigm to disaster response which includes a heightened awareness of the need to integrate relief with recovery and reconstruction. Such research must also assess what the most appropriate institutional structures are in which to house the process of disaster management from relief through to reconstruction (para. 9.2).
12.14 A major research need in disaster management is that of the family, community, institutional and societal coping and response mechanisms existing within a state in times of disaster, and especially during the recovery and reconstruction phase (para. 9.5-9.9).
12.15 An in-depth study of the capacity of the non-formal economic sector to recover following a disaster, and the nature of inputs needed to facilitate its recovery (para. 9.11).
12.16 All five themes dealing with the inter-relationship of disaster and development spelled out in para. 9.13 need to be researched.
12.17 A detailed region by region assessment is needed of existing or potential conflicts in the light of the dramatically changed political climate of the 1990s and their probability of creating new or increased waves of displaced populations, both within their borders and across them (para. 10.2).
12.18 Research on the special problems and needs faced by displacees within conflict zones is urgently required (para. 10.3).
12.19 A detailed assessment is required of the broader issue of reconciling humanitarian needs for internally displaced or otherwise vulnerable populations with the question of national sovereignty. Such an assessment should include a critical evaluation of recent experiences of NGOs and international organizations in their attempt to overcome the problem of delivering assistance to needy without the cooperation, or even against the wishes of national governments (para. 10.6).
12.20 A study is needed which seeks to identify the particular needs of returning internally displaced populations in general and specifically the needs of those returnees of rural origin who, as a consequence of their displacement, are unlikely to want to return to their rural homelands and drift to urban areas instead (para. 10.8).
12.21 A study of the problem of re-integrating demobilized 'warrior' (male or female) including a comparison of past experiences, and to the development of strategies for re-integrating and re-socializing such populations following the termination of a conflict (para. 10.9).
12.22 A review of existing literature on sexual exploitation of girls and women in times of emergencies and disasters is required; such a review should then form the basis of a further study which controls for socio-cultural variables, and aims at identifying preventive factors of sexual abuse and culturally appropriate interventions (para. 11.5).
12.23 A series of research projects should be initiated to address the question of health and disaster-induced stress, especially as this affects women and children. Such research must go beyond the simple expansion of medical and/or psychiatric services to relief camps or disaster areas; it should, on the other hand, look into the effectiveness of combining western medicine with traditional medicine and healing practices (para. 11.10).
12.24 Research is needed on the interactive impact of stressors and stress and on the modifying measures applied to women and children in emergencies. Specifically, such research needs should include the compilation of a list of preventive measures (and their simple implementation by health personnel) which will reduce catastrophic stress reactions during the crisis and relief phases of a disaster (para. 11.11).
12.25 A study which identifies pre-disaster and post-disaster factors leading to changes from traditional to innovative roles for women and factors which will enhance the participation of women and children in the various phases of response to disaster (para. 11.15).