Disaster Dialogue: Three myths in our dealings with disasters, climate change and development
|Starts:||16:00 15 Feb 2016|
|Ends:||18:00 15 Feb 2016|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Arts, Languages and Cultures|
|Who is it for:||Adults, Alumni, Current University students, General public, University staff|
|Speaker:||Terry Cannon, Gemma Sou|
The Disaster Dialogue series, hosted by HCRI, is a regular multi-disciplinary forum that responds to the urgent challenges posed by disaster events, including their interface with climate change and sustainable development. It provides an opportunity for the disaster scholars, practitioners and students to dialogue and exchange ideas about the state-of-the-art research on disaster risk reduction and resilience capacity development.
In this presentation, Terry Cannon discusses key areas of work that overlap between development, climate change and disaster preparedness, in relation to three myths. The first is that people share the same priority for severe natural hazards with outsider “disaster managers”. Most people do not, because they have other priorities (of everyday life). Many people interpret risk through culture and religious beliefs, which are also ignored in DRR. The second is the myth of “community”. Does it actually exist, or do we pretend it is there in order to enable us to do our work? From this I explore the problems that arise when we do use the notion of community in what we do, or what others do. This is linked to the assumption that people are “rational” in the way we assume, and that evidence is collected and acted on. Instead, we need to take account of different rationalities (rather than irrationality) and the significance of emotions and experiences in determining behaviour in relation to “evidence”. The last myth relates to whether governments actually care about their people. When we do research to provide evidence for policy (“policy uptake”) we are making an assumption that there will be a rational, logical process that links our research to policy design and implementation. But what if the responsible organisations (national governments and international organisations) don’t actually care, or are constrained by factors that make evidence-based policy irrelevant? In all this the missing element is any consideration of power relations as the major determinant of what does and does not happen.
IFRC, 2014, World Disasters Report 2014 focus on Culture and Risk, Geneva: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, http://www.ifrc.org/en/publications-and-reports/world-disasters-report/world-disasters-report-2014/ (free download) – especially chapters 3 and 4.
Cannon, Terry & Detlef Mueller-Mahn, ‘Resilience, vulnerability and disasters’ Natural Hazards, 2010, 55:621-35.
Role: Research Fellow
Organisation: Institute of Development Studies, based at the University of Sussex
Biography: Terry has a background in development studies, and specialises on rural livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, vulnerability analysis and adaptation to climate change. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the UK, and previously worked with International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), University of Greenwich (London) and the Natural Resources Institute (UK). He recently co-edited and co-authored the World Disasters Report 2014 focus on Culture and Risk, and is co-author of At Risk: natural hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters (with Wisner, Blaikie and Davis), which is one of the most widely cited and used works in disaster risk reduction. He is currently working on a project in Bangladesh on cyclone preparedness and how to protect livelihoods as well as lives.
Role: Lecturer in Disaster Management
Organisation: Humanitarian and Conflict Response (HCRI)
Biography: Gemma received a BA in International Relations and Politics at the University of Sheffield (2008), an MA in Urban Planning with specialism in cities of the Global South (2009) at the University of Manchester and a PhD in Development Studies (2014), also here at the University of Manchester. She has worked on diverse projects for BBC Worldwide, the ESRC and DFID, the Ford Foundation, Goldsmiths University of London, The Natural Environment Research Council, the World Bank and UNOY Peacebuilders, based in The Hague. Broadly speaking her research focuses on the experiences of marginalised groups in cities of the Global South and their representation in development discourse. She focuses particularly on multi-scalar approaches to address disaster risk in ‘Southern cities’, the intersection of disaster risk management and broader development processes and how vulnerable groups are embedding disaster risk management into social and cultural norms at the grassroots level.