Citizens’ Empowerment – Theoretical Background

The concept of Citizens’ Empowerment in disaster management is of particular interest for CARISMAND project. We have adopted the following definition of Citizens’ Empowerment provided by the Laboratory of Citizenship Sciences (LSC), Italy – leading partner of the dedicated Work Package 7:

“Empowerment should be considered as a complex process that entails a societal actors’ increase of skills, awareness, involvement in the decision-making process, etc., in synthesis an increase of their capacities to control their own environment and therefore to be active in such environment.”

The LSC Team has developed a comprehensive desk research which aimed to explore the existing theoretical background on the topic of Citizens’ Empowerment, considered in the context of natural, man-made, and technical disasters. The literature review covered general community empowerment concepts and a review of state-of-the-art community empowerment practices.

Around 50 empowerment practices at different stages of disaster management (preparedness, emergency, and recovery) were reviewed by the team. The practices have been documented by international organisations (such as UNISDR, UNCRD, UN-OCHA, WMO or World Bank) and the EC, as well as various literature sources, and were implemented mostly in Asia (and less in Europe).

The undertaken theoretical research on Citizens Empowerment has also resulted in a list of variables which (among others) have been identified by the CARISMAND WP7 Team as factors that could influence citizens’ empowerment processes. Such variables are demographic variables, propensity towards innovation, factors related to individual behaviours, quality of the citizenship, potential changes in power relations, and others.

Continue to full text of the Summary of the literature review report developed by the LSC Team here.

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