Though the term disaster risk governance is rarely used, there is a large body of literature that relates to the governance of disaster risk in low- and middle-income countries with a focus on national or sub-national levels. This brief helpdesk research report identifies some of the most notable literature in this area and attempts to identify common conclusions.
‘Disaster risk governance’ can be defined as the way actors at all levels manage and reduce disaster and climate related risks (e.g. UNDP, 2013). Literature from closely related conceptual areas such as risk governance and disaster governance also provide insights into disaster risk governance.
A number of key points arise from the literature on disaster risk governance. From the general guidance literature notable points are:
- There are certain key entry points for mainstreaming disaster risk governance. These include policy development, institutional development, advocacy and knowledge, supporting implementation of measures and supporting broad participation.
- Development and disaster risk are closely related and impact each other in several ways. For example, development can lead to urbanisation which can present new disaster risks. Development initiatives should incorporate disaster risk considerations.
- Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction/management are closely related, as would be the governance processes and mechanisms in these areas.
- Disaster risk governance relates to many levels and actors. It involves the governance mechanisms and processes of national decision-makers, local communities as well as inter- and intra-governmental organisations.
From the literature focused on national level governance key points are:
- Parliamentarians can and should play an important role in improving governance for disaster risk.
- More guidance is needed that delineates responsibility between global, regional, national and local actors.
- There are various monitoring mechanisms for identifying the degree of mainstreaming of disaster risk management in governance arrangements. Examples include tracking budgets for disaster risk and evaluating national policies, planning processes, and decision-making.
From the literature focused on local governance key points are:
- Decentralisation and capacity-building of local governments, communities and networks is important to manage disaster risk.
- Decentralisation, by itself, does not guarantee greater efficiency, social participation or accountability in relation to disaster risk management, but can create conditions conducive to these.
- Political commitment from local and national actors is important to institutionalise effective disaster risk governance.
Finally, from the literature focused on institutional arrangements key points are:
- A number of institutional arrangements affect disaster risk management decision-making. These include incentive structures, information gaps and intra-governmental relations.
- Both formal and informal institutions help shape exposure, sensitivity and capacities of individuals, social groups and social-ecological systems to respond to disaster risk.
- New legislation on disaster risk management can be a key enabler of disaster risk reduction and management.
- Other governance reforms such as ‘New Public Management’ reforms can adversely impact disaster risk governance.