Disaster Management and the integration of the “new” stakeholders

Project INDIMA, funded by DG ECHO, will develop, and enhance a network-concept for better and holistic civil protection and disaster risk management by integrating all relevant stakeholders into a new concept. 

The last century brought significant changes in the environment where civil protection and disaster risk management is acting.  The retreat of SOE (state owned enterprises) and the appearance of new actors in the field of logistic, public transportation and communication services brings new challenges for the changed framework conditions for authorities.  Dir. Jaap van Lakerveld, with PLATO and the University’s Crisis Research Centre Leiden investigated what is needed for effective crisis management in April 2019.  The two-phase study, called “State of the Art in Crisis Management” gave amongst others clear statements to improve Crisis Management:[i]

  • Crisis are becoming increasingly transboundary.
  • The inclusion of the citizens and stakeholders in the response was also mentioned as a key aspect to improve crisis management.

The conclusions were:

  • A reorientation of administrators towards whom the crisis is developing and which players, organisations or sectors in society are at stake is often left behind or is (too) late.
  • Crisis management benefits from network management.  This requires switching between modular partnerships. Follow-up research will have to focus on developing an appropriate network heuristic.

The results of this study are similar to experiences of experts, based on previous disasters and are likely to be representative of the situation in most countries in and outside the EU.

The integration of all actors within all sectors of the “Emergency Management Cycle” (response, recovery, mitigation, preparedness) is key for an improvement of modern disaster risk management.

Josef H. Riener, MSc, project manager of INDIMA: “The landscape of disaster risk management has significantly changed within the last decade.  Civil Protection authorities had to deal with this some state-owned enterprises, but nowadays a lot of providers of critical infrastructure and private stakeholders need to be integrated.  Developing a process (standard, checklist, methodology) to manage disasters and crisis effectively is the objective of the project INDIMA, funded by European Union. INDIMA researched the needs and stakeholders, will draft the network-concept, test it in a simulation exercise and confirm it at the final workshop.”

Tangible and resilient data: research

Project INDIMA is based on the same approach.  To get more tangible and resilient data, a secondary data research to identify the current stakeholders was conducted.  To give a solid basis to our work, the consortium’s partner, Hungarian Red Cross, Disaster Management Department carried out a research to understand better how civil protection networks are organized in the European countries on a national scale.  This research was followed by an anonymised online needs assessment.

In the stakeholder analysis, four pillars were identified:

  • GO (Governmental Organisations)
  • CI (Critical Infrastructure provider)
  • PVO (Private Non-State Volunteer Organisations)
  • PO (For-profit companies)

GO (Governmental Organisations) and CI (Critical Infrastructure provider) will have a hierarchical management and clearly defined decision-making processes.

PVO (Private Non-State Volunteer Organisations) can be clearly structured and follow a top-down structure, on the other hand it can be very informal, not accepting any command-and-control approach.  A volunteer fire service will be close to a paramilitary unit organised, while a group of expatriates, coming to help will have no structure in leadership and management.  This bottom-up setup brings maybe “informal” leaders, but the acceptance of their decisions and agreements may be questioned and discussed quickly.

Finally, PO (For-profit companies) relay on their usual management style and have clear contacts and communications.

„Understanding the impacts of the wide range of stakeholders involved in disaster recovery projects is essential to achieve recovery performance targets.

Effective stakeholder management can improve the performance of disaster recovery projects, while poor management can lead to low project performance in terms of schedule, cost, quality, environment, return on investment and communications.” (Mojtahedi & Oo, 2017b, p. 841)

This working environment makes the DRM sometimes challenging.  It is wise, to identify and seek contact before a disaster occurs, to have an established liaison in place.  A directory or database of key contacts makes coordination and collaboration much easier.  Having executed a mutual training or an exercise or drill helps a lot for understanding the other’s needs, capabilities, and restrictions.

After the stakeholder analysis, the needs assessment investigated the questions: national collaboration networks, roles and tools used in the cooperation.

Integrating all stakeholders into a smooth and effective disaster risk and crisis management runs along the emergency management continuum, from prevention to preparedness, response to recovery.  That means to identify, contact, invite, train, and liaise with hugely different and inhomogeneous groups and individuals.  Each of these stakeholder haves their own structure and form of communication and means of interaction.

Based on the outcomes of the stakeholder analysis and the needs assessment the thematic of the workshops will be defined.  Three online workshops will be conducted focussing on: coordination, legal aspects, and interoperability.

Objective of INDIMA as a project

Developing a concept and defining a methodology to integrate many stakeholders in a network for crisis management, considering the findings of the three workshops will be the task for the time after the workshops.

INDIMA-project is is structured in three sections.

This concept, to be developed in autumn of 2021, will be tested in a SIMEX (Simulation exercise) in spring 2022 with experts from several European states.  The situation will be visualised in a virtual reality supported simulation to explore and strengthen synergies between civil protection, humanitarian aid organisations and private entities.

The result of the SIMEX will be the identification of gaps, shortcomings, and ideas for improvement to streamline and optimise the concept.  At the final workshop, the result will be discussed with experts of DRM, HA, and managers of relevant organisations to get the confirmation for the usefulness of the concept, integrating all identified stakeholders into a successful DRM process.

Josef H. Riener, MSc, is Project Manager of the EU funded project INDIMA and independent consultant. 

[i] Universiteit Leiden / State of the Art Crisisbeheersing / april 2019 / JvL, JM. State of the Art in Crisis Management, Jaap van Lakerveld & Jeroen Wolbers, The Platform Training, Education and Governance BV (Plato) and the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, both from the University of Leiden, conducted the research.