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Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or room to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
WED5.3: Risk, society and culture
Time: Wednesday, 29/Aug/2012: 2:40pm - 4:10pm
Session Chair: Ortwin RENN, University of Stuttgart
Location: Sertig



Cultural Role in Risk and Disaster Management, A case study from Uganda, Africa


Kampala Capital City Authority

Disaster and risk management is a comparatively new area of social concern and practice. However, it is a very relevant concern for development cooperation given that natural disasters like earthquakes, landslides, wild fires, floods or droughts have devastated an increasing number of regions, like in some parts of East Africa-Uganda in particular; destroyed investments, and set back progress in development.

In the past decades, the amount and magnitude of natural and human-made disasters is on the rise Worldwide and with the increasing frequency, especially poor people in developing countries are affected by these catastrophes.

Particular focus lies on preventive measures to reduce the risk to the affected population, thus, considering the tools for disaster mitigation, rehabilitation and reconstruction basing on cultural groups or community based organizations.

This paper will discuss the Importance of cultural based Initiatives in Disaster and Risk Reduction Management; main Characteristics of Community Based Disaster Management; the Role of Local leadership, Cultural Groups in Disaster and Risk Management, and the Challenges Generally Encountered by those clusters due to:
- Population growth and gross socioeconomic inequities between rich and poor Countries.
- Global climate change, which in long term result in earth warming and an increasing ocean level
- Inadequate resources
- Poor quality leadership
- Dependency syndrome
- Lack of inertia
- Internal conflict
- Lack of transparency
- Inadequate organizational and management capacity.
- Conflicting government and stakeholder policies especially on cost sharing, handout and technical support

Quote: While many people are aware of the terrible impact of disasters throughout the World, few realize that this is a problem that we can do something about. Kofi A. Annan (UN Secretary-General), 2004

Risk shrink: exploring the psychology of risk


Lootok, United States of America

A comprehensive view of risk requires two systems of thought: the analytical side of risk, and the intuitive side of risk. While many of us rely on data to determine risk, we often overlook how our perception of threats can impact the way we respond in an incident. The psychology of risk drives a deeper understanding of our relationship to threats and the human element of risk. Consideration of behavioral and social sciences perspectives can help leaders leverage the analytic and intuitive as complementary ways for evaluating risk. Delving into the latest findings in behavioral risk research can teach us why humans perceive certain threats, why we react the way we do, and how we can train for the best response to an incident.

Understanding common fear factors – such as scale, immediacy, imaginability, lack of control, lack of choice, unfairness, impact, unfamiliarity, untrustworthy origin, and media coverage – help explain why we perceive some risks as more threatening than others, and how this affects the extent of our preparation against them. The way we perceive a risk influences our response, and our emotional perception often overrides fact or reason.

Our experience also affects the way we process risk; or how the regular operation of our minds and bodies is impacted in a threatening situation. The Stress-Performance Link, or the impact of stress on decision-making abilities and incident response; and examine sources of disaster-related stress and its impact on performance, seen in phenomena including “Person-Role Conflict”, “Cognitive Lock-In,” “Task Saturation,” and “Groupthink.”

Towards an interdisciplinary framework for understanding the role of culture in the post disaster reconstruction process


Luleå University of Technology Lulea, Sweden , Sweden, Kingdom of, and School of Planning and Architecture Bhopal India

This paper elaborates on a conceptual framework to validate the argument that cultural dimensions of the affected communities are not effectively and sufficiently addressed in the current post disaster humanitarian and development processes. This has been well articulated in this study from the analysis of shelter reconstruction process in 2004 tsunami hit fishing villages of Tamilnadu. The main contribution of this paper to theory and practice is delivered in three sections. Firstly, it explains the relevance of the conceptual framework that synthesises two different fields of enquiry i.e. cultural anthropology and urban design to analyse the role of culture in the evolution and development of traditional settlements in post disaster contexts. This is followed by the analysis of reconstruction processes in three tsunami hit fishing villages in Tamilnadu, Southern India, in which the author has carried out primary research as part of his (awarded) PhD study. The analysis of this primary research unfolds the specific impacts and the reasons for such responses in the post tsunami reconstruction process, by comparing and contrasting the findings from the three case studies.

This paper discusses the disaster reconstruction process in two different ways. Instrumentally – in a positivist way. Secondly, the findings on the outcome of the reconstruction process have been discussed from the perspective of cultural anthropology. Here the consideration is of a ‘way of life’ – a habitus. This perspective is addressed from a different philosophical framework to positivism of development studies and draws on cultural anthropology – that is looking at the world as a social construct that operates through a physical spatial field. When the spatial relations change, this has an impact on social relations, but the relationship is not direct and deterministic, because the social and the spatial are mutually constructed.

Making and unmaking human security: the limits of state power in reducing risk and creating resilience


RMIT University, Australia

In an era of global economic, business, political and cultural forces, the role and power of national governments can seem unclear. It is often argued that the global rich should, on the grounds of equity, support the global poor in adaptation to climate triggered disasters, and that this should be done through international institutions. Put another way this is about the reduction of vulnerability to disasters among those who are currently most vulnerable. Although this idea has long been promoted, progress internationally has been very limited. However, the European Union has shown on a regional scale what is possible. In large measure this was because the Union gave human security explicit priority over state security. The constituents of human security are also those that reduce vulnerability to natural phenomena and promote resilience to most sources of social stress. The major challenge facing Europe now, and that facing much of the world, is how to avoid losing the gains in human security and resilience - while also supporting improvement in poorer countries. This presentation argues that promotion of human security, in particular through developing food, water, livelihood and health security, should be the emphasis for both adaptation and disaster risk reduction. An overarching question concerns the power and role of government in this task, and the tensions that have to be negotiated. Some recent influential international and national publications that set out very different approaches are used to illustrate the issues.

A critical pedagogy of risk: empowering children with knowledge and skills for DRR

Briony Clare TOWERS

RMIT University, Australia

In recent years, the concept of child-centred disaster risk reduction (CC-DRR) has gained significant traction across DRR research, policy, and programming. In essence, CC-DRR involves strengthening children’s knowledge and skills so that they understand the risk of disasters in their communities and are able to take a lead role in reducing those risks. Therefore, educating children about disaster risk and disaster risk reduction should be considered a fundamental element of any CC-DRR initiative. Despite this, however, discussions relating to questions of pedagogy or instructional strategy are notably absent from the contemporary CC-DRR discourse. This paper seeks to initiate discussion and debate in this area by proposing a critical pedagogy of risk. Drawing on the pioneering work of Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux and Joe Kincheloe, the paper presents a model of CC-DRR education that involves creating the conditions whereby a child can (a) discover for themselves that they are vulnerable to extreme hazard events, (b) discover for themselves that their vulnerability is both unacceptable and changeable, and (c) begin to pull together the necessary resources for taking action. The paper then presents evidence in support of this model from both recent Australian research on children’s knowledge of wildfire risk, and the broader CC-DRR literature. The paper concludes by discussing some of the broader philosophical and political dimensions that characterise critical pedagogies and their distinct congruity with current conceptualisations of disaster risk reduction.

Posttraumatic stress and psychiatric co-morbidity following bombing in Iraq: the role of shattered world assumptions and altered self-capacities

Man Cheung CHUNG1, Fuaad Mohammed FREH2, Rudi DALLOS2

1Zayed University, United Arab Emirates,; 2University of Plymouth, UK,

Whilst research has looked at posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychiatric co-morbidity among civilians exposed to bombing (e.g. Duchet et al, 2000), there is a lack of longitudinal data on the development of these outcomes and the psychological factors associated with them, particularly among Iraqi civilians. To investigate 1) the trajectory of PTSD and psychiatric co-morbidity following bombing among civilians in Iraq and 2) the link between shattered world assumptions, altered self-capacities and identified health outcomes. One hundred and eighty (F=90, M=90) Iraqi civilians exposed to first time bombing were recruited from the Ministry of Health approximately one month (time 1) after the bombing and five months (time 2) after the baseline assessment. They completed the posttraumatic stress diagnostic scale, the general health questionnaire-28, the world assumptions questionnaires and the inventory of altered self-capacities. There was a significant decline in the proportion of people meeting the diagnostic criteria for PTSD (n=138 baseline vs 121 follow-up). All psychiatric co-morbid symptoms also declined significantly over time. For the cross-sectional analysis, controlling for demographic variables, regression analysis showed that controllability of events (β=-0.21), safety and vulnerability (β=0.30) and affect dysregulation (β=0.37) significantly predicted PTSD time 1. Controllability of events (β=-0.19) and affect dysregulation (β=0.33) also predicted psychiatric co-morbidity at time 1. For the prospective analysis, controlling for PTSD and psychiatric co-morbidity at time 1, none of the shattered world assumption and altered self-capacity dimensions predicted PTSD and psychiatric co-morbidity at time 2. These findings would be discussed in terms of individual resilience. The paper concludes that following bombing, civilians developed PTSD and psychiatric co-morbidity which declined over time. Civilians’ perceptions of their ability to control events in the world and regulate their affect had a short term impact on the severity of these symptoms.

Considering social and cultural dimension of resilient cities

Mohammad Reza FARZAD BEHTASH1, Mohammad Ali KEYNEJHAD2, Mohammad Taghi PIRBABAEI3, Mohammad Taghi AGHABABAEI4

1Tabriz Islamic Art University - Research & Planning Center of Tehran Municipality, Iran, Islamic Republic of; 2Tabriz Islamic Art University; 3Tabriz Islamic Art University; 4Research & Planning Center of Tehran Municipality

Cities are complex and interdependent systems, extremely vulnerable to threats from both natural hazards and terrorism. Urbanization is also a complex dynamic process playing out over multiple scales of space and time. Virtually all of the world’s future population growth is predicted to take place in cities and their urban landscapes – the UN estimates a global increase from the current 2.9 billion urban residents to a staggering 5.0 billion by 2030.

Local resiliency with regard to disasters means that a locale is able to withstand an extreme natural event without suffering devastating losses, damage, diminished productivity, or quality of life and without a large amount of assistance from outside the community. Resilience is defined as “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and re-organize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks”.

Vulnerability is the flip side of resilience: when a social or ecological system loses resilience it becomes vulnerable to change that previously could be absorbed. For resilience, we need to start not with what’s missing but whit what’s already there.

At this article is tried to determine different conceptual models and frameworks of resilient communities. We also compare these models and frameworks and consider their components and dimensions. Then, we consider social and cultural dimensions and components of resilience in these models and then define proper dimension of social and cultural resilience in Islamic Cities.

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