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UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


Archive for January, 2021

Three IRDR affiliated papers in on Politics of Disaster Governance

By Eija Meriläinen, on 8 January 2021

The open-access journal Politics and Governance came recently out with a 21-paper special issue on Politics of Disaster Governance. The issue provides a wide selection of papers from an overlooked perspective, debating how the formal, the ‘real’ and the invisible governance all contribute to how disasters are addressed (see Hilhorst, Boersma & Raju, 2020). The special issue is also one testimony of the diversity of approaches and researchers at Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR). Altogether three papers and five researchers contributing to the special issue came from our community. In the following, the authors – appearing in the alphabetical order of their last names – introduce their own articles.

Hilhorst, D., Boersma, K., & Raju, E. (2020). Research on Politics of Disaster Risk Governance: Where Are We Headed? Politics and Governance, 8(4), 214–219. https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i4.3843 [editorial of the special issue]

Patrizia Duda, Ilan Kelman and Navonel Click (all IRDR) on their article “Informal Disaster Governance”

In disaster risk reduction and response, too often, local realities and non-formal influences are sidelined or ignored to the extent that disaster governance can be harmed through the efforts to impose formal and/or political structures. A contrasting narrative emphasises so-called bottom-up, local, and/or participatory approaches which we encapsulate as Informal Disaster Governance (IDG). We theorise IDG, situate it within disaster science, and consider its ‘dark sides’. By doing so, we establish the conceptual importance and balance of IDG vis-à-vis FDG, paving the way for a better understanding of the ‘complete’ picture of disaster governance. Empirically, we consider IDG in and for Svalbard in the Arctic, including its handling of the 2020 coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, to explore the merits and challenges with shifting the politics of disaster governance towards IDG.

Duda, P. I., Kelman, I., & Glick, N. (2020). Informal Disaster Governance. Politics and Governance, 8(4), 375–385. https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i4.3077

Jessica Field (IRDR) on her article “Caught between Paper Plans and Kashmir Politics: Disaster Governance in Ladakh, India”

This article argues that disaster governance must be considered relationally at a horizontal scale (i.e. relationally between two neighbouring areas) as well as vertically (i.e. a local area in relation to the national level) in order to appreciate the full range of pressures shaping an area’s disaster governance. Using the case study of Ladakh, India, I show how the politics of border security and conflict in neighbouring Kashmir have impacted — and often limited — Ladakh’s disaster governance aspirations. For instance, despite efforts to learn lessons from a cloud burst disaster in 2010, Ladakh remains without an effective Disaster Management Plan and experiences everyday setbacks in improving DRR, partly as a result of the Kashmir conflict’s impact on the economy, communications, and governance of the remote region.

Field, J. (2020). Caught between Paper Plans and Kashmir Politics: Disaster Governance in Ladakh, India. Politics and Governance, 8(4), 355–365. https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i4.3143

Eija Meriläinen (IRDR) together with Jukka Mäkinen and Nikodemus Solitander on their article “Blurred Responsibilities of Disaster Governance: The American Red Cross in the US and Haiti”

This article focuses on private actors involved in disaster governance, arguing that their roles and responsibilities have been insufficiently challenged. In particular, the article politicizes the entangled relations between non-profit organizations, liberal states, and disaster-affected people. To interrogate the justice of disaster governance arrangements, the article builds on a Rawlsian theoretical framework. Following the framework, liberal states have two types of responsibilities in disasters: humanitarian (domestically and abroad) and political (domestically). NPOS are shown to be instrumental in blurring the boundaries between humanitarian and political responsibilities. This might result ultimately in actual vulnerabilities remaining unaddressed.

Meriläinen, E., Mäkinen, J., & Solitander, N. (2020). Blurred Responsibilities of Disaster Governance: The American Red Cross in the US and Haiti. Politics and Governance, 8(4), 331–342. http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i4.3094