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close this bookEmergency Information Management and Telecommunications - 1st Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1997, 62 p.)
close this folderPart 1: Information management systems
close this folderIdentification of information needs
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentInformation needs: “pre-crisis”
View the documentInformation needs: “with onset of crisis”
View the documentInformation needs: “post-crisis”

Information needs: “post-crisis”


Rehabilitation and recovery: Emergency response organizations involved in the later phases of the disaster response should, ideally, begin planning their longer-term activities even before emergency conditions stabilize. The information needed for this process will vary with the type of disaster and the intended response.

In general, a decision to begin longer-term activities requires information on the damage generated by the disaster and the longer-term needs inflicted upon the population. A grasp of the longer-term political, economic, social, and environmental changes brought about by the disaster is also needed, as is an understanding of the coping mechanisms which the affected population still maintains.

In complex emergency situations, security is generally the major concern of those beginning to plan and implement longer-term activities. The emergency manager will continue to monitor such indicators as the current status of tensions among ethnic groups or other factions; the status of local market redevelopment, and the willingness of those displaced by conflict to return to their points of origin. Other information which managers need before deciding to implement rehabilitation or recovery programs includes: the level of political will and resource availability for longer-term activities; host government acceptance of or antipathy to longer-term activities; and the existence of other “more pressing” emergencies which could place demands on scarce resources needed by the rehabilitation or recovery programs.

Note: It is highly unlikely that all affected areas and segments of a population affected by emergency will make progress towards normalization at the same pace. More likely is the scenario in which certain zones of the country are still beset by emergency conditions while other areas make progress towards regaining their normal lives.

This is particularly true in complex emergency situations. In such cases, ongoing efforts by assessment and monitoring teams must ensure that emergency managers are aware of these critical population and geographic distinctions so that targeting and the type of response can be fine-tuned as needed.


Mitigation activities: Mitigation strategies, whose aim is to reduce losses in the event of a future hazard occurrence, encompass a wide range of activities, from infrastructure development - such as stronger and more rigorously enforced building codes; flood-engineering; improved structural resistance to high winds and earthquakes in non-engineered structures - to measures such as improved detection systems and public education.

There are many different stakeholders in mitigation activities, including the affected population; the business community; political representatives and decision makers; the development and urban and rural planning communities. Each of these groups needs to draw upon a common pool of information, and each also has its own specialized information requirements. Major contributions are made by engineers, technicians and scientists; the insurance industry; the banking and investment industries; and the individual activists and promoters of mitigation and preparedness measures who are often drawn from all these groups and who advocate for improvements in safety.

The following table lists the “menu of mitigation actions” explored in the DMTP “Disaster Mitigation” training module. Included here as well are examples of the information needs of managers charged with planning and implementing these actions:

Mitigation actions

Examples of information needs

1. Engineering and construction measures

· Map and inventory of non-engineered, disaster-prone buildings
· Design standards, building codes, performance specifications
· Listing of existing or potential incentives for construction of disaster-resistant structures or retrofitting of disaster-prone structures (eg, reduced insurance rates, preferential loan packages, land title or tenants rights agreements)

2. Physical planning measures

· Land-use and zoning regulations
· Map and inventory of lifeline facilities (eg, hospitals, water treatment and pumping stations, power generating and transmission structures, telecommunications facilities, etc.)
· Degree of concentration or dispersion of lifeline facilities
· Location of population concentrations
· Design of supply and transport networks

3. Economic measures

· Unemployment, income distribution, poverty levels
· Degree of diversification of economic activities
· Taxation policies
· Availability of, access to insurance and cost of premiums

4. Management and institutional measures

· Degree of authorities’ political will to implement mitigation measures
· Understanding of government structures established to plan, implement mitigation and preparedness activities
· Availability of human and material resources for training

5. Societal measures

· Degree of commitment (ie, resources and time) devoted to public education (radio broadcasts, posters, etc.) and drills
· Degree of inclusion of disaster education in public schools, meetings or other fora
· Degree of participation of community in decisions about mitigation activities

From the above table, it is clear that emergency managers have an obvious stake in mitigation planning. Those activities which are likely to reduce the impact of future hazards on emergency lifeline services - such as measures to strengthen the hazard-resistance of telecommunications, medical, and transport systems - clearly help to ensure a more timely, effective emergency response. Mitigation planners and emergency managers can have much positive impact by sharing information on the types of hazards likely to affect particular regions of the country and the state of essential lifeline systems in those regions which may require strengthening.

Note: Many of the above measures and information needs clearly relate to natural disasters, particularly those listed under “Engineering and construction” and “Physical planning” measures. Certain components of the table can, as well, be applied to complex emergency situations. Given that the root causes of many complex emergencies are actual or perceived inequalities in the distribution of power, income, land, and resources, then one can reasonably argue that actions taken to improve the political economic and social development of the poor may well be “mitigating measures.” That is, the very process of development is itself the best means of mitigating the potential for conflict - and for the eruption of a complex emergency situation.

The information needs of those who would seek to mitigate the effects of potential complex emergencies are similar to those of development workers. These include many of the needs listed in the table above as well as information on the skills, organizational capacities, and social attitudes of the population to be targeted by development assistance.

Q. Consider one of the disaster mitigation projects in your own country. Which categories of information concerning this project are likely to be of use to emergency response planners?


Mitigation project _______________________________________________

Information categories ___________________________________________



Project: construction of retaining walls along river banks population density in potential flood zone degree of protection afforded lifeline service centers (hospitals, communications centers)