Preventive adaptation strategies within disaster management – how humanitarian actors address climate-related challenges
Abstract: Background: Climate change is a significant factor shaping the planet and changing the pattern of disasters which leads to direct and indirect consequences. The result is a huge amount of affected people who rely on humanitarian aid. The satisfaction of this need is the responsibility of disaster management. Only little research about the relation of disaster management and climate change was done so far but would be of utmost importance as climate change is one main obstacle for efficient humanitarian work and disaster management design, in return, affects the resilience and vulnerability of disaster-prone areas. Purpose: This thesis paper investigates the interconnectedness of climate change and disaster management. It has the purpose to explore how humanitarian actors in the scientific and operational sector of disaster management experience the impact of climate change and which preventive adaptation strategies they identify to cope with climate-related challenges. Method: The methodology is based on a relativistic ontology and follows social constructionism as epistemology. A multiple case study within the scope of a qualitative inductive approach was conducted by contrasting scientific and operational experts’ opinions about the role of climate change in the disaster management context. Primary data were gathered in the form of semi-structured interviews by applying the typical case sampling. The selected method of data analysis is the content analysis approach. Conclusion: The results show that climate change consequences can be determined as a highly relevant factor shaping disaster management by intensifying general disaster management challenges. To adjust to this development, adaptation strategies have to be established and should follow a holistic approach. The main adaptation strategies identified are localization, forecast-based financing and superior data analysis in combination with enhanced information management showing major effects if applied within prevention and preparedness. Restricting factors in adaptation are lacking resources, coordination and communication problems and an insufficient flexibility level of systems and tools. Technology application, data analysis and forecasting, as well as lessons learnt instead can be seen as facilitating factors to overcome the challenges and barriers.
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