School of Policy, Planning, and Development




Contents of Recent Issues

Volume 22, No. 1. (March 2004)


Articles by:

    Yuko Nakagawa and Rajib Shaw, "Social Capital: A Missing Link to Disaster Recovery," pp. 5-34.

      Post-disaster recovery processes should be considered as opportunities for development, by revitalizing the local economy and upgrading livelihoods and living conditions. Social capital, which is defined as a function of trust, social norms, participation, and network, can play an important role in recovery. This paper examines the role of social capital in the post earthquake rehabilitation and reconstruction programs in two cases: Kobe, Japan and Gujarat, India. The Kobe case study shows that the community with social capital and with a tradition of community activities can pro-actively participate in the reconstruction program, and thereby can make a successful and speedy recovery. A model for bonding, bridging, and linking social capital was developed from the Kobe experience and was applied to Gujarat in four different communities. It was observed that the community with social capital records the highest satisfaction rate for the new town planning and has the speediest recovery rate. The role of community leaders has been prominent in utilizing social capital in the recovery process and facilitating collective decision-making. Thus, although the two case studies differ in socioeconomic and cultural contexts, the communities' social capital and leadership are found to be the most effective elements in both cases in enhancing collective actions and disaster recovery. (AA)

    Heike Thiel de Bocanegra, Ellen Brickman, and Chris O’Sullivan, "Vicarious Trauma in Aid Workers Following the World Trade Center Attack in 2001," pp. 35-55.

      This study investigated the prevalence of secondary trauma in volunteers who were involved in the emergency response after the World Trade Center (WTC) attack. Secondary or vicarious trauma is defined as therapists’ emotional reactions to their clients’ traumatic material. A total of 163 caseworkers, non-clinicians involved in addressing victims’ concrete needs, participated in a semi-structured phone interview that assessed their background and volunteer experience and a mailed survey that assessed their psychological status. Outcome data were the PTSD Checklist (PCL) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Responses identified two distinct categories of volunteers: volunteers from out of town tended to be older, more experienced in disaster relief work, and had less levels of exposure to the attack than volunteers from the New York area. Most volunteers found the experience rewarding and enriching. However, 7.4 percent of the sample met diagnostic criteria for PTSD and a fifth had BDI scores indicating moderate to severe depression. Prior trauma, exposure to the event, self-reported unmet needs, and beginning or increasing substance use after 9/11 were significantly associated with post-traumatic stress symptoms and depression. Post-traumatic stress and depression symptoms were negatively correlated with age. Having had previous disaster experience and living with a partner appeared to have a protective effect on mental health status. In conclusion, relief agencies should pay particular attention to providing support for volunteers with prior traumatic experiences. Furthermore, they should ensure ongoing support after the end of relief work. (AA)

    David King, "Understanding the Message: Social and Cultural Constraints to Interpreting Weather-Generated Natural Hazards," pp. 57-74.

      Globally there is an increase in the social and economic impacts of all natural hazards, and especially those that are generated by weather systems. Climate change is apart of this process, but it is most likely that long-term climate change will first become evident as an increase in natural disasters, especially flooding and drought. However, a major cause of increasing natural disasters is the growth and relocation of population, concentrating into complex urban settlements that proliferate infrastructure and property in vulnerable floodplains and the coastal fringe. While Australia has experienced a decline in the loss of life from natural hazards, the loss to business, agriculture, and the economy in general has increased exponentially. Weather-generated natural disasters dominate the total disaster bill. Vulnerability to natural hazards may be reduced through hazard education and effective warnings. The communication of weather information is inevitably a top-down process. Understanding of information and in particular, warnings about hazardous events involves a public safety transfer of knowledge from highly specialized scientists through emergency managers, local politicians, and the media, to every member of society. Research shows that selection, interpretation, and expression of information and warnings occurs at institutional and societal levels. Both the media and the general public select, reinterpret, and weigh up information about weather and hazards, applying a complex set of attitudes, perceptions, experience, and misinformation to the initial message. An understanding of how people interpret the message is essential to the accuracy and safety for warning and forecasts. Examples and case studies from post-disaster and behavioral research carried out by the Centre for Disaster Studies and hazard events illustrate the issues of understanding the message. (AA)

    Alan Kirschenbaum, "Measuring the Effectiveness of Disaster Management Organizations," pp. 75-102.

      This study proposes introducing the ’client-stakeholder’ as a partner in measuring public sector disaster management effectiveness. Combining multiple constituency and goal attainment theories, an analysis was made of Israel’s Home Front Command. Combining responses of key managers in this disaster agency along with those of a representative national sample of Israel’s urban population, effectiveness was measured by matching stated organizational goals against the perception of their provision by client-stakeholders. Goal perceptions were found to substantially differ from and focus on only a small number of officially stated goals. The results suggest that a disaster organization's stated goals, upon which most measures of organizational effectiveness are based, are not necessarily those perceived or even used by its client-stakeholders to gauge effectiveness. In addition, factors contributing to these perceptions are not necessarily related to the organization or the services it provides. This stands in sharp contrast to traditional measures of organizational effectiveness based on internal performance measures and highlights the need to reevaluate the role of the client-stakeholder in measuring disaster management organizational effectiveness. (AA)

Feedback from the Field:

    David M. Neal, "Teaching Introduction to Disaster Management: A Comparison of Classroom and Virtual Environments," pp. 103-116.

    Juan Murria, "A Disaster, by Any Other Name . . .," pp. 117-129.

    Niels Dabelstein and Phil O’Keefe, "Humanitarian Assistance, 1992-99: DANIDA's Evaluation," pp. 131-142.

Book Review by:

    William L. Waugh, Jr., on Robert A. Stallings (Ed.), Methods of Disaster Research, pp. 143-148.

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