Project Impact

Increased effectiveness of those who respond to disasters

Achieving an increased effectiveness of those who respond to disasters requires not only a grounded knowledge of which cultural factors influence and shape disaster risk perception, emotions, and behaviour of victims in disaster situation, but also an understanding how disaster risk communication itself is affected by cultural aspects, being embedded in different political, economic and social environments, based on different power relations, risk discourse styles and organisational cultures. Accordingly, CARISMAND targets the effect of different forms of culture on both the victims’ and the disaster managers’ side as well as their mutual impacts. Furthermore, the project explores how disaster risk communication is also “mediated” through both mainstream and social media, taking into account different media cultures and their impact on effectiveness in disaster preparation and response. 

A more resilient society by ensuring that cities are better prepared for and able to recover from emergencies

As socio-economic, environmental and cultural contexts are inherently entwined, achieving an increased resilience of societies requires a holistic approach that does not single out individual factors but acknowledges and explores their connectedness. Therefore, CARISMAND embeds the analysis of how cultural factors can both reinforce perceived and actual vulnerabilities as well as benefit individual and communal empowerment into the broader societal context. Through a distinct cross-cultural approach, measures to improve resilience in disaster situations will be explored as a combination of local as well as trans-local cultural factors.  

An additional factor in this context represents technologies, which have been changing the “face” of disaster management over the last decade, but their uptake and acceptance is strongly influenced by cultural values, practices and beliefs. This is why CARISMAND focuses on the impact of cultural factors on the adoption of a variety of technologies during all different phases of disaster management, and explore their potential for increasing the coping skills of individuals as well as communities. Beyond the review of existing case studies and the identification of best and emerging practices, different culturally informed technology uses will be life-tested based on existing technological information systems, providing opportunities in this sector to further develop and improve the respective technologies, which can be used by cities and citizens alike.  

Better meeting the needs of various cultures during disaster relief, thus improving reaction time and reducing fatalities, in order to provide disaster relief

Whilst collating, critically reviewing and analysing state-of-the-art theory and practice regarding the links between culture, risk perception and disaster management is indispensable to better meet the cultural needs of citizens, measures to effectively improve disaster response and disaster relief will most successfully be developed by involving citizens directly in this development. The design and organisation of six Citizen Summits and three Stakeholder Assemblies which combine public dissemination with instant feedback will take account of this core requirement. Beyond these functions, the cyclical organisation of the events, feeding into each other, will observe and respect the specific dynamic nature of culture, understanding it as an assemblage of attitudes, values and everyday behaviour which undergoes constant change, and test different models against each other to improve disaster response. Overall, it is planned to involve at least 600 citizens and 50-60 stakeholders from a variety of different European locations in these events and to collect, analyse and publish their feedback.  

Providing a framework for improving disasters’ policies and practices by taking into consideration every disaster victim’s cultural and personal uniqueness

Taking into consideration every disaster victim’s cultural and personal uniqueness will require an in-depth exploration of risk perception concepts. Most approaches to disaster risk perception assume an implicit direct link between risk perception and risk behaviour. However, more recent socio-psychological and cognitive sciences studies are showing that there is, potentially, no significant association between risk perception and adaptive behaviour, but emotional components may play the more important role. At the same time, cultural factors have been found to be robust predictors for both emotions (e.g. fear) and perceptions; therefore, CARISMAND will also set out to disentangle cognitive and emotional components which affect people’s behaviour in disaster situations, and how they interact, in order to provide a sound theoretical basis for practical guidelines.  

Furthermore, CARISMAND will explore legal frameworks as well as actual actor categories, disaster management organisation, procedures, and policies and guidelines in place across Europe. The gap analysis, as well as the identification of best-practice examples, will provide the “scaffolding” for a matrix report which, additionally, will be discussed and refined in cyclical events and benefit from extensive cross-sectional knowledge transfer between actors from different organisations, their own cultural backgrounds, and dealing with different types of disasters. Beyond the identification of “institutional” local procedures or systems that specifically target and benefit cultural groups, additional focus will be on innovative solutions of NGO’s and informal activities of communities that could be beneficially implemented elsewhere.  

Ultimately, the development of a comprehensive framework for culturally informed policies and practices in disaster management will “formalise” the synthesised results of all work packages. However, particularly the practice of formal and informal disaster managers will require a “tool” that is easily accessible and adaptable to the needs of their everyday work. Therefore, a toolkit will be developed that, additionally, allows disaster managers to access a large web-based online knowledge base with an intuitive, user-friendly and dynamic frontend. Moreover, it will provide detailed information for citizens how they can explore their culture-specific personal and communal strengths and skills in disaster situations.

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