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date: 05 April 2020

Non-Governmental Organizations and Natural Hazard Governance in Asia and the Pacific

Summary and Keywords

International nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), national nongovernmental organizations (NNGOs), as well as faith-based and community-based organizations play a vital role in natural hazard governance in Asia and the Pacific. One immediately thinks of humanitarian response, and, indeed, these organizations can and do play a role; however, as some Asian nations in particular have developed strong state institutions and have grown in their worldwide and regional economic and political status, civil society’s role has diversified. Among the other functions the nongovernmental sector plays in the mobilization of local people and advocacy for or against policies, it is involved in investment decisions as well as acts as a watchdog regarding the status of human rights in relation to natural hazard exposure and recovery and transparency in the use of disaster risk reduction and recovery funds. This diverse collection of nongovernmental institutions also has a role in knowledge production and access and innovates programs that showcase how governments might break down silos and put action behind the rhetoric of taking an intersectoral, multihazard, integrated approach that combines risk reduction, climate change adaptation (CCA), and livelihood enhancement. Indeed, nongovernmental actors also push for societal transformation as they work on issues of discrimination, inequity, electoral transparency, and human rights. These issues are among the root causes of the structural vulnerability of some groups in society to natural hazards. While governments in the region sometimes welcome these supplementary and complementary roles by INGOs and NNGOs, they are also a source of government–nongovernmental tension that has to be negotiated.

Keywords: nongovernmental organization, community mobilization, local knowledge, bridging, social cohesion, community resilience, psychosocial recovery, advocacy, transformation

Introduction

International nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) and national nongovernmental organizations (NNGOs) attempt to play many roles in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and emergency management (EM). They build on their conventional roles in delivery of services, community mobilization, and bridging between government and local residents by specialized uses of this experience in DRR and EM. Some also play additional roles in natural hazard governance. As advocates, especially in alliance with academia, they attempt to influence national government policy. They also attempt to introduce risk-bearers’ voices and knowledge and institutional memory to policymakers. They may help to introduce innovative local governance practices, in particular often attempting to link DRR, CCA, and development service delivery. Much of this takes place during disaster recovery, when hazards have acted at events that can make institutional change easier and government policies more fluid because disasters may serve as “focusing events” (Birkman, 2016; Kingdon, 2011), working under the rubric of “building back better” (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2017). In Asia and the Pacific, major disasters that have been focusing events include (also see Figure 1):

  • Mount Pinatubo volcano eruption in the Philippines (1991)

  • Hanshin (Kobe) earthquake in Japan (1995)

  • Cyclone Odisha in India (1999)

  • Bhuj earthquake in India (2001)

  • Indian Ocean tsunami affecting Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and other countries (2004)

  • Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan (2005)

  • Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh (2007)

  • Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (2008)

  • Wenchuan earthquake in China (2008)

  • Gorkha earthquake in Nepal (2010)

  • Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan (2011)

  • Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (2013)

  • Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu (2015)

Consider the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26, 2004. More than 225,000 people perished in 18 countries; the worst affected were Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. Thousands of local government staff died in Aceh and elsewhere in Indonesia or were among the half a million displaced in that country. Most of the countries affected had only rudimentary disaster contingency plans at the national scale, and few local government institutions mandated, were capable of, or funded an EM plan. The governance of natural hazards, especially at the local scale, was kick-started by the tsunami tragedy coupled with outside agency funding and assistance. INGOs, NNGOs, and community-based organizations (CBOs) were central to that process—still ongoing and producing variable results.

Non-Governmental Organizations and Natural Hazard Governance in Asia and the Pacific

Figure 1. Major disasters in Asia and the Pacific.

Source:Asian Development Bank.

The economic impact of disasters in the region has had a dramatic effect on national economies (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [ESCAP], 2015, p. 21); an example is the decline in gross domestic product (GDP) caused by the 2009 earthquake in Fiji (Figure 2). In addition to the major disasters listed, many less deadly, though often quite costly (especially in relation to national and household budgets), occur frequently throughout the region, including the small island developing states (SIDS) of the Pacific and their large, affluent neighbors (and development partners), New Zealand and Australia, where there have been numerous floods in Queensland and Western Australia, bush fires, and costly cyclone impacts, including Cyclone Tracy’s damage to the city of Darwin in 1975.

Non-Governmental Organizations and Natural Hazard Governance in Asia and the Pacific

Figure 2. Variation between observed GDP and projected GDP, Fiji.

Source: ESCAP (2015, p. 21).

This article explores a range of functions and roles that INGOs and NNGOs play in Asia and the Pacific that bear on natural hazard governance. Given the vast extent and diversity of the Asia-Pacific region, the article adopts a case study approach. After a brief regional overview, the focus shifts to detailed case studies from Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific island of Vanuatu. The article then proceeds to a discussion and a few tentative conclusions.

A Note on Terminology

There are debates in development studies, politics, and sociology about terms such as “civil society” and “NGO.” With acknowledgment of the importance of finer distinctions for some purposes, this article adopts a loose usage that covers the diversity of such groups and organizations one encounters in Africa. The term “civil society organization” (CSO) covers all non-profit formal and nonformal organizations serving a common purpose, adopting the World Bank definition (Jezard, 2018): “Civil society . . . refers to a wide array of organizations: community groups, non-governmental organizations [NGOs], labour unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations.” This article does not treat the full range of such organizations, paying less attention to labor unions, but it does address professional associations and adds academic institutions to the extent that they conduct applied research in DRR. Most of this review is focused on formal NGOs (i.e., INGOs); similarly formally constituted (registered or unregistered) national not-for-profits (i.e., NNGOs); and their subnational, municipal, or local equivalents (local nongovernmental organizations [LNGOs]), as well as informal civic organizations of a traditional nature or more recently created by local people as CBOs. On occasion, it singles out “faith-based organizations” although strictly speaking they belong to the categories NNGO or LNGO.

INGOs and NNGOs in Asia and the Pacific: Early History and Diversity

Indigenous nongovernmental institutions have existed in Asia and the Pacific for centuries; 16th-century Chinese benevolent societies (Smith, 1987) and self-help and mutual aid among Pacific Islanders are two examples. However, the origin of contemporary INGOs that work in development, poverty reduction, health, and disaster reduction can be traced back to European colonial charities and missionaries including early Jesuit establishments. Later the Red Cross was sectoral, focusing on specific diseases such as leprosy (Hansen’s disease) and the situation of orphans, public health and sanitation, and so on. As economic globalization has seen some Asian countries grown into regional powers and medium-income countries (in terms of World Bank categories)—for example India, China, and Indonesia—INGO activities have decreased, while NNGOs have proliferated, sometimes as local spin-offs of INGOs. In 2018–2019, the range of the CSOs in Asia and the Pacific is very wide, and their modes of action, sources of funding, and relationships with government and the public are diverse (Asian Development Bank [ADB], 2019).

One important fact about NNGO activity in the Asia-Pacific region is that organizations are highly networked with others. This provides opportunities for learning from innovation and also combined advocacy for policies at the regional and international stage (International Council of Voluntary Agencies, 2014). For example, the Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network connects 34 national NGOs in 16 countries, promoting coordination and information sharing, as well as collaboration “engaged with local communities strengthening their ability to combat disasters, providing humanitarian aid like food, water, shelter and health care, protecting critical facilities like schools and hospitals, creating awareness, advocating for policy changes and improving the capacity of community based organizations” (ADRRN.net).

Post-2015, the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies’ World Disaster Report 2015 (IFRC, 2015), titled Focus on Local Actors: The Key to Humanitarian Effectiveness, highlighted the importance of NNGOs and LNGOs. In addition, some believe there is evidence that INGOs and NNGOs in SIDS in the Pacific are increasing efforts to link DRR, CCA, and sustainable livelihoods (Cornish, 2016).

Case Study: Indonesian Tsunamis

Indonesia has suffered a series of deadly tsunamis, most recently in 1965, 1968, 1977, and 1994 before the infamous earthquake and tsunami that occurred on December 26, 2004, and again in 2006 and 2010 and twice in 2018. In each instance, local and national government and civil society responded. In the case of the 2004 event that destroyed coastal settlements in Aceh Province and killed 220,000, scores of INGOs were involved as well as their NNGO partners, both secular and religious. As government capacity for response and relief has grown, fewer INGOs have been allowed to participate, but NNGOs remain important responders.

Contemporary Indonesia presents a very wide array of different CSOs ranging from what Bettinger-Lee (2010) calls “(un)civil,” meaning separatist movements, to faith-based groups, to the rich tradition of local civic organizations that grew out of the 1915–1925 political awakening and grew into development-oriented CSOs. Development NNGOs began to work in the 1970s among people neglected by rapid macroeconomic growth in areas such as reproductive health, water, sanitation, nutrition, small business development, micro-credit, and informal education during the 1970s. Bettinger-Lee’s typology also includes social movements focused on human rights and overtly political organizations that push for democratization.

Because the overseas funding for some of NNGOs working on development service provision came with the donor’s language of democratization, the autocratic regimes in the decades since the end of World War II attempted to limit their scope of work and control them, creating government-controlled NGOs. Nevertheless, some human rights focused groups took part in resistance to the government of Suharto (in power 1966–1998) and its downfall triggered finally by economic crisis, ethnic conflict, and the killing of student protestors. Thus, from the 1999 elections onward, Indonesian NNGOs have taken on public watchdog and advocacy functions covering a wide spectrum of public administration: Indonesian corruption watch, Parliament/legislative watch, government watch, police watch, and budget watch (Antilöv et al., 2005). These organizations use their collected evidence both in national advocacy and also as participants in developing and revising international norms and agreements. For example, the Indonesian Civil Society Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Advocacy provided lengthy, detailed input to the 52nd session of the United Nation’s Committee on this subject in 2014 (Human Rights Working Group, 2015). Contemporary Indonesia presents a very wide array of CSOs.

Service Delivery and Humanitarian Action

This multifunctional history of civil society provided the basis for NNGOs’ engagement with the tsunami disasters that continue to plague Indonesia. An example is the YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU). It has been active in assessing damage and needs in these post-tsunami situations and providing this information to INGOs such as Christian Aid and others in the wider network supported by the World Council of Churches (Action by Churches Together [ACT] Alliance) (Christian Aid, 2018). Another internationally networked NNGO is Wahana Visi Indonesia, a branch of World Vision that has been involved in relief operations following both the Sulewesi and Sunda Straint tsunamis (Cornish, 2019).

Muslim counterparts such as U.K.-based Muslim Aid also provided assistance through local partners such as the pre-existing zakat-based Dompet Dhuafa (DD), Askia Cepat Tanggap and the DD Disaster Management Centre working in the tsunami-affected areas (Sakai & Fauzia, 2014). Such humanitarian service provision draws on the pre-existing roles that many NNGOs have had in development-focused services such as those provided by YEU’s progenitor, the Christian Foundation for Public Health, which was created in 1950 (Sakai & Fauzia, 2014). Founded in 2001, YEU not only works in its home country but elsewhere in Southeast Asia, with a focus not only on emergency response but also DRR initiatives. Its DRR focus mirrors the preventive public health emphasis of its mother organization. By 2016, YEU had provided humanitarian assistance to more than 250 villages in Indonesia, East Timor, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Nepal as well as encouraging partnerships with 350 community organizations throughout Indonesia (YEU).

Mobilization and Advocacy

A major Muslim disaster-focused NNGO, Nahdlatup Ulama (NU), was originally more focused on environmental and climate change because deforestation from illegal logging affected an NU-affiliated boarding school. In 2004, it established a program in community-based disaster risk management and began to work more broadly on DRR and disaster response, and in 2010 began to cooperate with the government in these areas (Sakai & Fauzia, 2014). Nationally, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, active in 26 provinces with 479 partner organizations is active in lobbying for policy that would reduce and control environmental abuses such as deforestation that increase the likelihood of landslides and destruction of coastal wetlands that act as a buffer against tsunami and typhoons. Partner organizations have also campaigned on the rampant burning of forests to make way for palm oil plantations, which has created air pollution that affects both Indonesian citizens but residents of neighboring countries (Putra & Toumbourpi, 2016). Such approaches model integrative policy and practice that bring elements of sustainable livelihoods, disaster reduction, CCA, and public health together.

Indeed, a major focus of actual and potential integrative approaches concerns climate change, local adaptations of land use and livelihood, and national climate policy in Indonesia. Youth are mobilizing against environmental destruction (Wijsen, 2018). More militant direct actions also take place such as Green Peace International and Green Peace Southeast Asia, combining to “name and shame” large international palm oil companies that are considered responsible for forest destruction (Chow, 2018). In part due to the crescendo of protest over deforestation to create palm oil plantations, in 2018 Indonesia’s president Widodo signed a three-year moratorium on new palm oil plantation development. Civil society is deeply involved in these incremental transformations. However, recalling Bettinger-Lee’s (2010) typology of civil society in Indonesia, the hardline Islamic Defenders Front in Jakarta has opposed the ethnic Chinese former governor’s campaign of eviction of the urban poor in an attempt to cope with a rapidly sinking city and flood hazard. The Front played on anti-Chinese sentiments and the piety of the urban poor. This technocratic, engineering-based approach was defeated, as was the governor, who was later tried for blasphemy and is serving a two-year prison sentence (Kimmelman, 2017).

Critical assessment of recovery efforts following this series of tsunamis and an approach that places prevention and public safety as well as people-centered recovery in a human rights context has become a major new departure since 2004 (American Bar Association, 2006; Cohen, 2005; Easton, 2005; Wisner & Walker, 2006). In the period after initial tsunami rescue and relief operations, many international donors worked with NNGOs and LNGOs to establish participatory and democratic planning and decision-making about rebuilding and reestablishment of livelihoods. Local as well as national-scale natural hazard governance seemed to change (Daly, Feener, Jauhola, & Thornburn, 2016, pp. 187–188). However, 10 years later, these imported innovative practices had receded (Daly et al., 2016, p. 190; Thornburn & Rochelle, 2014). “Reconstructed villages have largely resumed pre-tsunami governance practices—and in some cases, they have become worse in terms of strong-armed leaders, elite capture and patronage politics” (Daly et al., 2016, p. 204). Another post-tsunami evaluation identified a problem with the project of “capacity building.” Overseas agencies attempt to impose their own ideas of what “capacity” is and what institutional changes are required, rather than inviting local communities to define their own agenda (Brusset et al., 2009, p. 100).

Critical reflection by civil society, including members of professional organizations and academia, has extended to the question of tsunami warning. Lassa (2018) narrates a series of failures of the Indonesian state to adequately fund the maintenance of the tsunami warning system that was deployed in 2006 to protect Indian Ocean nations and for giving too little attention to local receipt and understanding of warnings, the so-called last mile problem (which some would argue from a people-centered perspective should be called the “first mile” priority).

Knowledge Access, Co-Learning, and Training

YEU also engages in community-based disaster risk assessment and education, as do other faith-based and secular NNGOs in Indonesia; one example is YEU’s initiatives with women’s local disaster resilience (The Irrawaddy, 2018; YEU, 2017). This also involves listening to and taking seriously people’s local knowledge and experience, such as that which gave rise to YEU’s guidelines on disability and disaster (http://www.yeu.or.id/read/77/discussion-on-disability.html), as well as processing institutional experience and sharing with other organizations. One instance of such cross-fertilization is YEU’s sharing with Plan International concerning aid distribution after the earthquake in Lombok (YEU, 2018).

Integrating Approaches: Comprehensive Local Disaster Planning

Oxfam and an Indonesian NNGO called the Social Research and Development Foundation (YPPS) supported by Australian financial aid were successful in implementing an inclusive process of local disaster planning. This involved local government units, community-based organizations, schools, church leaders, the YPPS, Oxfam, and AusAid working together on the East Flores district. This district had suffered losses in a 1992 tsunami and is also exposed to eruptions, lahar flows, and landslides from several volcanoes. Hazard and vulnerability mapping was done by village groups and in schools. An East Flores Disaster Preparedness Forum was created that embraced all stakeholders, and eventually not only did preparedness plans emerge from discussions but district laws were drafted to hard-wire natural hazard awareness, monitoring, and warning into daily practice of local government. The whole process took place between 2009 and 2011 (Lassa, Li, Rohi, Sagala, & Sura, 2014).

Encouraging Social Transformation

The final function sometimes seen among CSOs is to encourage societal transformation. This goes well beyond mobilization of local populations and facilitating their voices to be heard on disaster-relevant issues that concern them. It also goes beyond wider protests and the watchdog function of CSOs, as well as their function in advocacy or use of a “place at the table” to provide input into national legislation and policy. While not allowed by earlier narrow definitions of disaster risk management or even the more comprehensive and inclusive notion of DRR that emerged with the Hyogo Framework of Action, economic justice and effective participation in use of political power as well as peace are among the prerequisites of disaster reduction, as they are to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Their absence has long been recognized as among the root causes of vulnerability of groups of people to natural hazards (Oliver-Smith, Alcantara-Ayala, Burton, & Lavell, 2016; Wisner, 2012; Wisner, Blaikie, Cannon, & Davis, 2004; Wisner, Gaillard, & Kelman, 2012) and are foundations of good natural hazard governance.

Arguably, the peace settlement between separatists in Aceh and the government in Jakarta constituted a major shift toward peace as such a prerequisite—a necessary but not sufficient condition (Kelman, 2011). Indonesia’s Civil Society Coalition for Economic Justice continues to lobby on issues including labor conditions, health, palm oil, and fisheries as well as the terms of international trade agreements (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia, 2018). In terms of inclusive political participation, democracy, and elimination of corruption, civil society also remains active in a period of uncertainty, when the original energy that powered the reform movement from the mid-1990s seems to have waned and there are signs of renewed authoritarianism (Lindsey, 2018). Thus, the root causes of vulnerability to natural hazards in Indonesia have not been eradicated, and even the politically less challenging targets of the Sendai Framework may not be achieved.

A theme that runs through the entire account of CSO work in Indonesia is the balance, tension, conflict, and cooperation among government, INGOs, and NNGOs. Box 1 puts this issue into finer focus.

Case Study: Vanuatu: Cyclone Pam

Background on the Vanuatu Case Study

Vanuatu is a small nation made up of 83 islands in the South Pacific. It was administered by both Great Britain and France jointly from 1906 until 1980, formerly called the New Hebrides (Commonwealth of Nations, 2018a. The population in 2018 was estimated to be 282,117 (World Population Review, 2019). Vanuatu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change and disaster risks. Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, tectonic shaking and volcanism are to be expected, and, because it is in a cyclone belt, it is exposed to a wide range of climate and disaster risks. These include tropical cyclones, tsunamis, droughts, coastal flooding, and sea level rise (Schoch, Damon, & Holt, 2017; Vanuatu National Statistics Office [VNSO], 2018, pp. 1–4). There are nine active volcanoes, and Vanuatu’s location on the edge of the Pacific plate means that some of the islands are being uplifted at a rate of 2 cm a year, while others are subsiding (VNSO, 2018, p. 1).

Many of these hazards are expected to worsen as climate change impacts increase over time. With a combined total coastline of 2,528 km (1,571 miles), many of the islands making up Vanuatu are exposed to sea level rise as are many other SIDS. In 2004, a combination of sea level rise and the sinking of the island of Torres, in the north of the Vanuatu archipelago, due to a shifting tectonic plate caused the 70 inhabitants of Lataw village to move several hundred meters back from the ocean (Institut de Recherche pour Développement, 2011). This was an early warning of the impact of sea level rise to be expected in the future. Beginning in 2016, the government of Vanuatu has had access to flood mapping tools and the staff has been trained to anticipate the impacts of sea level rise, especially on schools and health facilities (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2019).

Clan-based mutual aid and solidarity based on obligations, rights, rituals, and customs (kastom) and featuring strong male leaders (wantok) pre-existed British and French colonization of the islands and the missionary activity that accompanied that European administration (ADB, 2017). These social relations interact with post-independence forms of local, provincial, and national governance (from 1980), such as the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office. Such traditional social organization also provides a matrix within which so-called community-based initiatives such as community disaster committees and Red Cross volunteerism have been superimposed. A National Council of Chiefs exists to help protect ancient customs (VNSO, 2018, p. 7).

Civil society in Vanuatu includes organizations focused on gender development, education, health and environment, good governance, and workers’ rights. Examples include Vanuatu’s National Council for Women, working on gender equity and women’s professional development. The Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific Vanuatu is active on issues concerning health, youth, good governance, small business, and community capacity building. The Vanuatu Association of NGOs (VANGO) facilitates the action of NGOs in the country. Labor is active through the Vanuatu Teacher’s Union, the Vanuatu National Worker’s Union, and the Vanuatu Council of Trade Unions (2018). Churches and faith-based associations also exist. The Vanuatu Council of Churches (VCC) (from 1967 to independence in 1980 called the New Hebrides Council of Churches) is affiliated with the World Council of Churches. Of the 13 VCC member churches, some, such as World Vision, are known for action to reduce disaster risk. VCC has produced training material on human rights and gender (Sista, 2018), and it also has been involved in the implementation of the climate change projects of the Australian organization Act for Peace (Act for Peace, 2018).

Civil society is also active in capacity building in engineering and other skills, and professions necessary to understand and reduce natural hazard risks are provided by the Vanuatu Institute of Technology. Engineers Without Borders Australia has partners among the island of the Vanuatu archipelago, for example supporting the government’s Department of Public Health. Vanuatu’s Public Service Commission has also negotiated an agreement that will provide advanced training in engineering in China. Community secondary schools have been created as voluntary efforts of local people and churches to make up for this deficit (World Bank, 2006). The University of the South Pacific’s Malus opened campus in Port Vila in Vanuatu in 1989. Vanuatu citizens may also study at the university’s main campus in Suva, Fiji (Adams & Foster, 2019). The Vanuatu Environmental Science Society (VESS) promotes the study of Vanuatu’s rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity and takes an active role in bridging local/traditional knowledge and outside specialist science (critical for effective DRR). VESS’s home page states, “both indigenous knowledge, passed down from generations of people living on the land, and scientific knowledge together will assist this and future generations to live harmoniously within our changing environment.”

Cyclone Pam

Category 5 tropical cyclone Pam struck the islands of Vanuatu with winds of more than 250 kilometers (155 miles) per hour on March 13–14, 2015. It was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the South Pacific. Although Vanuatu was hit the hardest, Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea were also badly impacted: more than 200,000 people were estimated to have been affected in these countries (IFRC, 2016). The majority of the 83 islands in Vanuatu’s archipelago experienced some degree of destructive impact as a result of the cyclone. The greatest impacts were on the rural, subsistence-based populations of the central and southern islands including Erromango and Tana, with almost complete loss of local infrastructure and agriculture. The capital, Port Vila, and its surrounds on Efate Island also suffered widespread destruction. Losses were estimated at nearly US$450 million, representing over 64% of Vanuatu’s annual GDP (Schoch et al., 2017; VNSO, 2017).

The cyclone seasons that followed Pam 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 largely spared Vanuatu, with less than average tropical cyclone activity and storms, such as cyclones Gita and Hola that only brushed the islands and did little damage. However, the El Nino conditions that reduced the frequency of tropical cyclones (The Vanuatu Independent, 2018) brought drought conditions, and the normally vigorous regrowth of sweet potatoes and other crops did not occur. Thus the recovery process had to deal with multiple hazards.

Civil Society Roles Before, During, and After Cyclone Pam

INGOs and NNGOs attempt to play many roles in DRR and EM. They build on their conventional roles in delivery of services, community mobilization, and bridging between government and local residents by specialized uses of this experience in DRR and EM. Some also play additional roles in natural hazard governance. As advocates, especially in alliance with academia, they attempt to influence national government policy. They also attempt to introduce risk-bearers’ voices and knowledge and institutional memory to policymakers. They may help to introduce innovative local governance practices. Much of this takes place during disaster recovery, when hazards have acted at events that can make institutional change easier and government policies more fluid, working under the rubric of “building back better.” All of these functions are evident in Vanuatu.

Service Delivery and Humanitarian Action

An alliance of Vanuatu’s NNGOs concerned with disaster preparedness, the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team, was formed in 2011 (ADB, 2017), and it was in a position to respond to the impact of cyclone Pam; this alliance includes faith-based organizations (Box 2) and many other sorts of NNGOs under the umbrella of VANGO and INGOs. In addition, the IFRC and its national societies in the Pacific provided assistance. International Red Cross practice is always to collaborate with other agencies in coordinating relief and recovery activities. National Red Cross societies coordinate with their respective governments at the onset of the emergency, and through regional and national humanitarian coordination meetings form working partnerships at an interagency level. Two specific interventions by the Vanuatu Red Cross provide examples of resilience-building in local communities after this disaster: generating livelihoods in the post-disaster environment and risk reduction and preparation for future disasters.

Mobilization and Advocacy: Addressing Climate Change

In parallel with the disaster preparedness and resilience-building initiatives, other NGOs are addressing climate change in Vanuatu. Without strategic interventions, livelihoods will be threatened and economic development curtailed. CARE International in Vanuatu and Save the Children have developed a community-based CCA project with support from Australian and U.S. aid programs. The project was implemented over a 16-month period to May 2017 in two provinces, with the overall goal of increasing the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change. The project focuses on women, youth, and children (Schoch et al., 2017).

Key objectives were to increase awareness and capacity to anticipate, plan for, and respond to the impacts of climate change, and for these groups to implement and lead CCA actions, such as enhancing livelihoods through income diversification, food security, natural resource, and ecosystem management. Through the project, CARE and Save the Children have supported 5,701 women, men, girls, and boys in 32 communities to implement essential, local CCA actions that build their resilience to the impacts of climate change. The modes of input were community-based training programs and workshops, and actions taken included hybrid plant propagation, solar dryers to preserve food ahead of the cyclone season, increased soil nutrient levels through recycling water and cooking scraps, and refined disaster preparedness plans.

Some key recommendations arose from this project. Supporting community-based disaster management structures was found to increase community resilience. Collaboration with local authorities is essential and includes engaging the right partners to access required technical expertise. Information must be accessible and locally relevant. Underpinning these were systemic recommendations:

  • Broader adaptation and development issues, such as the fundamental root causes of poverty and vulnerability, must be addressed concurrently.

  • Climate change interventions need to be gender sensitive and gender transformative.

  • Children can be agents of change by increasing their participation (Schoch et al., 2017).

On the question of advocacy, the case of the Vanuatu government appears to be more militant concerning climate change than civil society, or, in any case little advocacy seems to be required from the side of faith-based and other NNGOs or INGOs. In 2018, Vanuatu’s foreign minister told an international climate forum that the island nation will explore whether it can sue fossil fuel companies and countries that are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases for damage due to climate change (Cox, 2018). Nevertheless, NNGOs in the South Pacific are increasingly connected by social media and push for climate justice with their respective governments and are a voice internationally.

Knowledge Access: Preparing for Future Disasters

Given the Pacific’s vulnerability to natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones, and other severe weather events, the IFRC has been working with its national societies and other partners on DDR and CCA for many years. Operationally, this entails the recruitment and training of community-based Red Cross volunteers, who subsequently transfer knowledge and skills training to other residents. National societies also invest in disaster mitigation and early-warning projects to help reduce risks. During the cyclone event, Vanuatu Red Cross, in close collaboration with the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office, scaled up its preparedness activities with local communities. It assisted with evacuations and national radio broadcasts conveying important safety measures, thereby saving lives. Prepositioning food was another key response initiative.

Disaster risk reduction initiatives since cyclone Pam are more than provision of materials and building safe shelters. The Red Cross is working closely with community disaster committees, carrying out simulation and contingency planning exercises and community trainings. An example is developing multihazard community early-warning systems in partnership with national meteorological services and disaster management offices. This will assist communities to identify and address their vulnerabilities to potential disasters through the development of their own disaster preparedness plans (IFRC, 2016).

Prepositioned disaster preparedness stocks are now available for approximately 1,774 households in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Papua New Guinea. Rehabilitation of critical community infrastructure, including schools, kindergartens, and traditional communal structures, is also crucial in disaster preparedness planning, as these facilities are used for community preparedness activities, as well as act as safe shelters during future cyclones.

IFRC programs acknowledge that these risk reduction and preparedness initiatives take time to bed down; accordingly, their approach privileges the sharing of information about good hygiene, safe shelter practices, and disaster preparedness, while respectful of local knowledge and practices. Local evaluations indicate that communities are beginning to absorb and implement these approaches.

Encouraging Integration of DRR, CCA, and Livelihood Enhancement

The livelihoods of 40,800 households across Vanuatu were affected, mainly through the loss of crops and livestock, tools, and equipment. As the ability to bring in an income is fundamental to communities being able to take charge of their lives and of their own recovery, the Vanuatu Red Cross provided intensive training for young women aged 15 to19, to help restore and diversify their opportunities for income generation. Examples of income-generation activities include learning how to paint popular designs on fabric to sell at local handicraft markets and establishing vegetable gardens to sell produce. At the time of reporting, 31 young women of a target of 100, from rural and semi-rural areas of Efate Island in Vanuatu, have been trained. The goal is for each participant to share the knowledge she has learned with at least 10 members of the community, reaching up to 1,000 additional people (IFRC, 2016).

Faced with a rapidly changing climate that can affect fish reproduction and movements as well as bring periods of flooding and salt intrusion into ground water and soil, such alternative livelihood options are helpful hedges. However, it is also important to experiment with drought and salt-tolerant crops (Boils, 2015). The Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees is working to discover and develop salt-tolerant varieties of stable food crops.

Encouraging Social Transformation

There is a growing consensus that reduction of disaster risk is facing very great obstacles unless deeply rooted causes of people’s vulnerability to the impacts of natural hazards are not addressed (Oliver-Smith et al., 2016; Wisner et al., 2012). These underlying risks include historically inherited racism and inequality in any society as well as nondemocratic, nontransparent use (and misuse) of state power, corruption, militarism, and impunity. Civil society in the Pacific works on all these issues as advocate and watchdog (e.g., Transparency Vanuatu).

Studies from the More Affluent Pacific

The next two case studies from Australia and New Zealand do not cover all the possible functions of NNGOs set out in the introduction and demonstrated in the case studies from Indonesia and Vanuatu. Instead, they focus narrowly on an often-neglected role: care for those suffering psychosocial trauma after a disaster. However, as the narratives show, even in so specialized an area, most of the other civil society functions appear tangentially. The NNGOs involved had to mobilize resources and build networks. In Australia, the model developed also built community resilience, laying the foundation for comprehensive community-based DRR. The replication of the model subsequently elsewhere in Australia demonstrates knowledge sharing.

Case Study: Australia’s Fires

Background on Australian Hazards and Civil Society

Australia is exposed to numerous climate-related and geological hazards: tropical cyclones, flooding (inland, coastal and flash floods), drought, heat waves, earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides (Minnery & Childs, 2017). In addition, the country is prone to wild or bushfires. This case study focuses on the role of civil society, in particular NNGOs and volunteers in supporting recovery following a severe bushfire.

Civil society is strong in Australia, made up of several hundred thousand charities and non-profits. These human and institutional resources are supported by a number of networks such as the Australian Council of Social Service and Civil Society Australia.

The government’s Department of Social Services (2018) has counted over 600,000 charities and non-profit organizations, while another source estimates there are roughly 300,000 (Commonwealth of Nations, 2018b). The former uses a broader definition of civil society including “local sporting clubs, to cultural groups, service clubs and national organisations that operate at a local level,” whereas the latter is more focused (as are the authors) on “charitable non-profit organisations operate in the areas of social services, health, education and the environment.”

The Climate Action Network of Australia and various trade unions loom large in the areas of advocacy and transformation, as do a wealth of watchdog organizations dedicated to oversight of government and political parties.

Health, social service, and education organizations are important to knowledge mobilization and outreach and to prepare people to be receptive to hazard warnings and quick to involve themselves in recovery. There are also 40 INGOs in Australia that are accredited to work with AusAid, and indeed, many have been involved in the aftermath of the Indonesian tsunamis discussed previously (Commonwealth of Nations, 2018b). A more detailed breakdown of Australian civil society by size (the vast majority small) and function is provided by Australian Polity (2011).

Building and Supporting Individual and Community Resilience

In Australia, a National Strategy for Disaster Resilience was published in 2011. It describes a disaster-resilient community as

  • functioning well under stress;

  • successfully adapting to change;

  • being self-reliant; and

  • having social capacity and support systems (Commonwealth of Australia, 2011).

The following example focuses on NNGO contribution to building resilience in communities. Important in building resilience is the notion of adaptation and proactively harnessing this to either help prepare for future events or respond to an event that has already occurred (Handmer & Dovers, 1996). Community recovery measures that encourage community and social connectedness support individuals in times of need and empower them to adapt and improve after a disaster (Deloitte Access Economics, 2016). A community’s resilience involves a process of linking a network of adaptive capacities in response to adversity or crisis (Norris, Stevens, Pfefferbaum, Wyche, & Pfefferbaum, 2008). The relationship between community resilience and individual resilience may also increase the complexity of the situation, with the resilience of the community impacting the individual’s ability to be resilient to stress and vice versa (Berkes & Ross, 2013). Rather than being a personality trait, resilience is a set of skills that can be learned (Simpson & Jones, 2012). These researchers found that family members with moderate to high resilience scores on a Resilience Scale were more likely to use a range of problem-solving capabilities, including seeking social support, compared to families with lower resilience scores. Subsequent skills-based group interventions have been developed to strengthen resilience among caregiving families.

Background to the Australian Case Study

Bushfire has been a recurring natural event in Australia for over a million years. Despite standard hazard reduction and mitigation strategies, such as burning and clearing vegetation, significant harm to agricultural and other businesses, damage or destruction of residential property, and injury and death of residents regularly occur.

In New South Wales, state and national governments established support services for recovery following bushfires in the Warrumbungle and Blue Mountains local government areas. A devastating fire in rural New South Wales in 2013 triggered the development of the initial support service model, including a detailed manual of operating guidelines and tools. The model was also informed by the experience from the Victorian Black Saturday Bushfires and New Zealand Canterbury Earthquakes (Coombe et al., 2015; New South Wales Ministry for Police and Emergency Services, 2014). The model was further developed by the Step by Step team at Gateway Family Services in the Blue Mountains, an Australian NNGO, based on the tenets of “strengths-based practice” and “solution-focused” models of individual therapy (de Jong & Berg, 2002; de Shazer, 1998; Rowlands, 2004, 2012; Saleebey, 2006). At the community level, they take the form of the Assets Based Community Development Model (Ife, 2002; Kretzmann & McKnight, 1996).

The case study illustrates how small CBOs have harnessed knowledge from recovery programs to feed back into their agencies, communities, and wider service system to build resilience. The case also illustrates civil society bridging functions; a positive and cooperative relationship between NNGOs, CBOs, and the state; and a variety of funding sources and types of accountability (“upwards” to donors and “downwards” to clients).

Blue Mountains Bushfires, October 2013

The Blue Mountains area of New South Wales comprises a densely forested landscape with 27 townships spread along a mountainous ridge of approximately 100 kilometers and a population of 78,000. Most of the area is World Heritage National Park and only 11% is available for settlement (Blue Mountains City Council, 2017).

Three separate bushfires in the wider Blue Mountains area burned in the region for 10 days in October 2013. By October 25, the fires had burned over 65,000 hectares. Many people evacuated and experienced isolation, separation from people they love, fear and trauma, and dislocation from their communities and services. Fires also burned in other areas of the state in this period, with 208 homes destroyed and 122 damaged, the majority of these in the Blue Mountains (Rich, Booth, Reddy, & Rowlands, 2014). During the week of the fires, there were 189,000 downloads of the Rural Fire Service app, “Fires Near Me,” an indication of the proactive stance of residents in maintaining situational awareness (Crestani, 2014; New South Wales Rural Fire Service, 2017).

In November 2013, the Step by Step Blue Mountains Bushfire Support Service was implemented with funding provided by the New South Wales and national levels of government. Step by Step was established in Gateway Family Services, which is a nongovernment family support service funded largely through state government and church-based grants. Available to all community members affected, the Step by Step recovery service was designed to provide assistance to individuals, families, and communities by providing a supplementary service to the existing local human services system. The project’s title, Step by Step, was purposefully chosen to illustrate that the recovery process, for individuals and communities, is a gradual process, often incurring backward steps throughout the journey.

The personalized support worker service aimed to strengthen individual and household capabilities, assist in decision-making, and promote well-being and, in particular, to support meeting bushfire recovery needs by providing information, supporting clients in making their own decisions, and providing recovery resources and support (Rich et al., 2014). The support service model comprised four interrelated sets of activities, based on previous experience after the bushfires. The four kinds of activity are represented in Figure 3.

Non-Governmental Organizations and Natural Hazard Governance in Asia and the Pacific

Figure 3. A relationship-based model informed by a strengths approach. Source:Crestani (2017, p. 1).

At the conclusion of the service in August 2014, Step by Step had worked with 528 households, made 1,333 referrals, and had 11,800 client contacts. The last three months of service provision was supported financially by the Uniting Church in New South Wales. Step by Step would not have provided the high level of assistance to people impacted by the bushfires without the collaborative efforts of the broader local bushfire recovery services network: local health, education, emergency services, and welfare sectors. The mayor of the Blue Mountains also considered that Step by Step’s success was due to a significant extent to the relationship between the many allied community services in the Blue Mountains (Crestani, 2014).

Participants in an evaluation study valued the way the Step by Step team viewed them as capable participants in their own recovery, respecting their local knowledge and judgment. This evaluation supported findings from an earlier evaluation study (the 2003 Canberra bushfire in Australia’s capital city), where researchers found that the Step by Step model promoted hope and optimism and a sense of empowerment, which fostered resilience and supported recovery (Camilleri et al., 2007; Rich, Booth, Rowlands, & Reddy, 2016).

Immediate needs for clients consisted largely of accommodation and practical, material needs, as well as other community members’ support. It was also clear that clients felt they required ongoing support and that their needs changed to psychological support over time. Clients did not speak about Step by Step as a formal counseling service, though they rated the relationship with their support worker very highly. In the words of one affected resident:

Counseling, it’s different to what Step by Step did. I’m aware it sort of was counseling but it was different to making an appointment and sitting down and talking to somebody . . . So pretty much they looked after us physically, practically, emotionally and medically; they intervened on different levels to relieve some of the pressures that we had prior to the bushfires.

(Rich et al., 2014, pp. 24–25)

From the support workers’ perspective, the clients were viewed as capable individuals who were able to be in control of their lives amidst the disaster, and their role was to be available to support them through their recovery. A support worker was quoted:

Our philosophy was that people are all capable and resilient and able to make their own decisions . . . and (being) on the lookout for where strength-based conversations come in. . . . It was astounding seeing people’s resilience and strength, and I found so many of them just incredibly inspiring, and just seeing the love really that exists, and the hope that exists.

(Rich et al., 2014, pp. 34–35)

Also highlighted in the evaluation was the critical role of local interagency relationships and connectedness to the broader community services sector. This enabled Step by Step to build on other services, refer clients accurately, and collaborate with other services in the future on community development initiatives to build resilience. Examples of this work included education and support for early childhood services, parent education groups, links with local primary schools, and providing input on psychological recovery to workers employed in local businesses that were destroyed by the bushfires. “We had to maintain and strengthen those connections and those partnerships. I would say Step by Step worked very, very collaboratively with the service system. We just knew that we couldn’t achieve what we’ve achieved without that” (Rich et al., 2014, p. 42).

Using What Was Learned: Community-Based Disaster Risk Management

In 2017, Gateway Family Services received New South Wales government funding through the Community Resilience Innovation Program to further develop this model and provide training and support to other family support services within New South Wales (New South Wales Office of Emergency Management, 2017). In this way, the experience from the direct intervention service are being invested back into the community sector to build the resilience of the service base, including volunteers, and build resilience in local communities, prioritizing those communities most vulnerable to natural disasters. The project was intended to enable communities to develop their own disaster preparedness and recovery programs, with a focus on strengths-based practice and solution-focused skills development for workers. While not reducing hazards per se, the feedback loop thus generated was anticipated to heighten awareness and prepare local communities to better withstand the impact of any one of several likely natural hazards.

Preparedness steps undertaken include hazard reduction strategies that all residents are able to instigate in their own homes, neighborhoods, and social networks. These will augment those hazard reduction strategies that emergency service organizations typically undertake and can make a significant difference to a house surviving a fire, and more importantly the residents themselves surviving. Key aspects to this include safeguarding one’s home, ensuring adequate insurance, having a bushfire or flood protection plan including evacuation planning and communication strategy within the household, and the key factor of psychological preparedness for a disaster event and its consequences. In bushfire-prone areas of Australia, understanding the meaning of hazard warnings by authorities, and taking appropriate preventative action, is crucial (Box 3). Since the 2009 Victorian bushfires this includes evacuating early on a day of catastrophic fire danger.

This project developed a train-the-trainer package based on the Step by Step 4 Quadrant Model for Disaster Recovery (Crestani, 2017) (Figure 3). The package incorporates professional skills development targeting workers in community-based NGOs, particularly family support services, who are likely to form the front-line of psychosocial recovery for local disaster events. By early 2019, the approach has been made available as an online resource and applied during flood recovery from other disasters in New South Wales: the Lismore floods in 2017, as well as after other bushfires in the towns of Coolah (2017) and Tatha (2018). The flooding in northern New South Wales was due to extremely heavy rainfall during cyclone Debbie in March. Lismore is notoriously badly sited, founded originally in a swamp, and has had a long history of flooding (Marciniak, 2017). The application of the Step-by-Step approach in a situation quite different from bushfire shows the potential for CSOs to innovate and to network and share their approaches.

This extension of the Step-by-Step approach is informed by key community engagement principles (Australia, 2013):

  • respecting and using local knowledge and experience;

  • tapping into existing networks; and

  • identifying and acknowledging community capability and sharing resources.

Additionally, these local services will be able to use the training to review and strengthen their agencies’ business continuity plans. Small, often poorly funded CBOs have frequently experienced severe service disruption during disasters triggered by natural hazards in Australia. Therefore, investing in more thoughtful business continuity planning will sustain service delivery immediately after a disaster and into the longer-term recovery period. The capability of the local community services sector to continue to support their community is integral to community-led recovery (Australian Emergency Management Institute, 2017; Mallon, Hamilton, Black, Beem, & Abs, 2013).

The project demonstrated the expertise of nongovernment family support services in already adapting to their community needs as their services have evolved over time. It showed that these services, which are embedded in the community, are well-placed to bring together other community partners who could be part of the rapid response and resilience building approach.

Case Study: Canterbury, New Zealand Earthquakes

Background on the New Zealand Case Study

New Zealand is exposed to nearly every possible natural hazard. It is a small island nation on the Pacific Rim, sitting on the Ring of Fire subduction zone, where the earth’s Pacific and Australian tectonic plates meet, causing seismic and volcanic activity. New Zealand’s long coastline increases tsunami risk. Positioned in an area of the planet exposed to strong, westerly winds subjects the country to extreme weather (Insurance Council of New Zealand, 2018). Lyons and Nowland-Foreman (2009, p. 216) give the number of non-profit organizations in New Zealand as 97,000, with 90% of them small and relying on volunteers.

The Canterbury Earthquakes and NNGO Activities

On September 4, 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck 44 kilometers west of Christchurch in the Canterbury plains of the South Island of New Zealand, causing no fatalities but significant land damage. A series of earthquakes followed including a magnitude 6.3 earthquake beneath the city of Christchurch on February 22, 2011. This earthquake killed 185 people and injured more than 7,000. There was widespread damage to land (including liquefaction), housing, and infrastructure across the region. Approximately 90% of greater Christchurch’s housing stock (167,000 homes) was damaged. A 1.5-square-mile (4-square-km) area of the central business district was initially cordoned off, and some portions remained closed for more than two years. The accumulated cost of insured losses from the Canterbury earthquake sequence was NZD$29 billion (Johnson & Olshansky, 2016). The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) was established through legislation in 2011. The role of CERA was to restore services and economic, social, community, and cultural well-being to greater Christchurch (Cooper-Cabell, 2013).

Before the earthquake, CSOs had already been active in preparedness and damage reduction, for example the Canterbury Primary Principles’ Association that was addressing school safety and the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering with its emphasis on structural standards (NZSEE, 2019). The New Zealand Red Cross Society (n.d.) mobilized its nationwide resources to provide immediate relief including first aid, shelter, portable water sources, and portable latrines.

Another need met by civil society, as in the Australian bushfire example previously discussed, was mental health and the encouragement of social solidarity. The Canterbury earthquake sequence also had an impact on the mental well-being of residents as well as their reported quality of life. A Wellbeing Survey of greater Christchurch residents conducted in September 2012 found that 54% of residents reported a drop in their quality of life in the previous 12 months. NGOs provided support for psychosocial recovery during what turned out to be a prolonged rebuilding process complicated by liquefaction. One such NGO was the Canterbury Charity Hospital (CCH).

The CCH was established in Christchurch by a trust in 2004 to provide free elective health care for those in the Canterbury community who were otherwise unable to access treatment. Initially, it had only two full-time equivalent paid staff members, with all other work carried out by over 200 volunteers providing medical, surgical, anesthesia, nursing, technical, legal, financial, administrative, and manual skills. Funding is exclusively by public donations, bequests, fundraising activities, and interest on investments. There is no government funding (Bagshaw et al., 2013). Currently CCH has over 280 volunteer surgeons, dentists, nurses, clinicians, and other support staff.

Since it is not an acute hospital, all clinical services in the CCH were suspended for one week after the initial September 2010 earthquake. After the second earthquake in February 2011, again all surgical and medical services were suspended, and counseling services on-site started six days later, with an additional outposted counseling service commencing in April. Anticipating that a substantial need for counseling was likely to persist for years after the second earthquake and would not be met by existing services, CCH Trust (CCHT) purchased additional property to accommodate the new counseling service as well as ongoing medical and related services. Counseling services continued until May 2012 (Bagshaw et al., 2013).

In 2011 and 2012, 858 patients (23.2% male, 76.8% female) were seen at 1,784 one-hour sessions. Volunteer counselors and clinical psychologists came from Canterbury, elsewhere in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. They provided acute counseling service, of up to three sessions each, for clients who were either referred by their general practitioner or self-referred. A unique feature of this initiative was the use of qualified volunteers to provide the counseling service within a NGO. Funds were sought from a range of sources, including donations and gambling charities. “In kind” support included the restoration and enhancement of telephone lines and sourcing of temporary offices for counseling.

In total, 56 volunteer counselors were recruited through professional associations and the various networks within the hospital and medical services. Administrative staff was sourced through the same health service networks, especially former staff. Word of mouth was also effective—an effective strategy that can be easily overlooked in the digital age. Although the counselors were volunteers, applicants were assessed regarding qualifications and suitability. The majority were female and mature personnel, rostered for one day a week starting one week after the earthquake. Supervision and consultation were essential inputs, as other recovery support services have also found. Aspects such as confidentiality for working in a voluntary situation and insurance coverage were carefully addressed.

Clients presented with high levels of anxiety, acute stress disorder, sleep disturbances, and suicidal ideation. Children and adolescents, the elderly, and people with existing mental health problems were the most vulnerable (Bagshaw, 2017). The priority intervention by the counselors was initial triage assessment and referrals to mental health services if indicated. In other words, the qualified volunteer service was of an assessment and crisis intervention nature. After approximately six weeks, the nature of referrals and intervention shifted to longer-term assistance. Subsequently, the CCHT has continued to offer a part-time free counseling service to the community, incorporating one counselor position funded through a charity and sessional counselors donating time from their home agencies.

Community gardens and Re:START Mall were early indicators of community recovery. Before major rebuilding began, the Re:START Mall opened as a temporary shopping area built from shipping containers in the devastated central business district of Christchurch. It was a collaborative effort between the arts sector, including Creative New Zealand, Christchurch City Council, and Canterbury Community Trust. The mall became an internationally famous icon and symbol of post-quake Christchurch, and remained open for business from October 2011 until January 2018 (Re:START, 2018). While the Re:START Mall constituted a morale-boosting innovation by civil society, the huge issue of public participation in planning for the recovery of greater Christchurch continues as of late 2018 (Anderson, 2014; McDonald, 2018).

Discussion and Conclusion

This brief and selective review of civil society action in Asia and the Pacific suggests that a challenging divergence is being driven by two planetary processes: economic globalization and climate change. In middle-income countries such as China, India, and Indonesia, INGOs are being excluded or tightly controlled, while the role of NNGOs is increasing. In low-income countries and those still highly dependent on bilateral and multilateral assistance, INGOs are still active but are also hiving off independent and semi-autonomous NNGOs that have increasing agency. State–nongovernmental relations also show considerable dynamism. Although this article has demonstrated local mobilization, advocacy, and encouragement of social transformation in all cases, these more critical and provocative roles are better tolerated in some countries than in others. The article has also demonstrated close cooperation with the state in certain domains and during emergencies in all cases.

The mosaic of civil society engagement with natural hazard governance remains variegated and dynamic. Most generalization about this large region of the world would be foolish, especially in view of the two huge planetary drivers mentioned. What is certain, however, is that the “grand bargain” negotiated at the World Humanitarian Summit is still far from being put into practice. LNGOs and NNGOs still have too little flexibility in their work and direct access to too little of the funding that donors provide for DRR and CCA. Coordination among actors during response and recovery is also lacking. The motto “build back better” remains a clever piece of wordsmithing.

In Australia and New Zealand, the cameo cases of social work after bushfires and earthquakes have shown how lessons learned in what some might consider a specialist area such as psychosocial recovery can and have been learned and applied to issues of more general societal preparedness. Successful intervention and later generalizations of lessons were made possible by the use of a multiagency strategy that was flexible and responsive to the specific nature of the events. By reviewing strengths and gaps in practice when debriefing after a response or recovery intervention, an interagency focus was able to increase community engagement, sharing of resources, and mutual collaboration. The Australian and New Zealand case examples demonstrated how very small agencies can respond to their community’s need and are potent players in the EM arena. Agencies from EM and community services sectors demonstrated understanding of and respect for their colleagues’ knowledge and expertise. They also acknowledged sustainable livelihoods and community development precepts in recovery work.

Resonances and analogies of these lessons can also be found in the way that small NNGOs and LLGOs have had outsized impacts through networking and cooperating with others, including the government and INGOs in the wake of the Indonesian tsunamis and in the aftermath of cyclone Pam. Small is not necessarily always beautiful (Schumacher, 1975), but it can be powerful when networked and when combined with multiple functions, including advocacy and innovative bridging across sectors.

Further Reading

Bettinger-Lee, V. (2010). (Un)civil society and political change: A contested area. London, U.K.: Routledge.Find this resource:

Brusset, E., Bhatt, M., Bjornestad, K., Cosgrove, J., Davis, A., Deshmukh, Y., . . . Wu, T. (2009). A ripple in development? Long term perspectives on the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. A Joint Follow-Up Evaluation of the Links Between Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD). Stockholm, Sweden: SIDA.Find this resource:

Cavallo, A. (2017). How do we increase the capacity of state government and participating organisations to face unexpected risks? National Emergency Response, Autumn, 12–17.Find this resource:

Cornish, L. (2016, November 2). NGOs in Asia-Pacific pivot toward disaster resilience. Devex.Find this resource:

Easton, M. (2005). Civil society and human rights in Aceh after the tsunami. Briefing for the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Washington, DC: Human Rights First.Find this resource:

Frandsen, M., Paton, D., & Sakariassen K. (2011). Fostering community bushfire preparedness through engagement and empowerment. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 26(2), 25–32.Find this resource:

Handmer, J., & Dovers, S. (1996). A typology of resilience: Rethinking institutions for sustainable development. Organization & Environment, 9(4), 482–511.Find this resource:

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. (2015). World disaster report 2015. Geneva, Switzerland: Author.Find this resource:

Jones, S., Oven, K., & Wisner, B. (2016). A comparison of the governance landscape of earthquake risk reduction in Nepal 0061nd the Indian state of Bihar. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 15, 29–42.Find this resource:

Lassa, J. A., Li, D. E., Rohi, R., Sagala, S., & Sura, Y. B. (2014). Civil society roles in governing disaster reduction in Indonesia. In M. Fahmi, A. A. Yusuf, R. M. P. Purnagunawan, B. P. Resosudarmo, & D. S. Priyardono (Eds.), Government and communities: Sharing Indonesia’s common goals (pp. 139–158). Jatinangor, West Java: UNPAD Press for Indonesia Regional Science Association and Universitas Padjadjaran.Find this resource:

Leadbeater, A. (2013). Community leadership in disaster recovery: A case study. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 28(3), 41–47.Find this resource:

Lyons, M., & Nowland-Foreman, G. (2009). Civil society and social capital in Australia and New Zealand. In H. Anheier & S. Toepler (Eds.), International encyclopedia of civil society (pp. 213–218). New York, NY: Springer.Find this resource:

Mitchell, A., Glavovic, B., Hutchinson, B., MacDonald, G., Roberts, M., & Goodland, J. (2010). Community-based civil defence emergency management planning in Northland, New Zealand. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 2010–1.Find this resource:

Norris, F., Stevens, S., Pfefferbaum, B., Wyche, K., & Pfefferbaum, R. (2008). Community resilience as a metaphor, theory, set of capacities, and strategy for disaster readiness. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41(1–2), 127–150.Find this resource:

Oliver-Smith, A., Alcantara-Ayala, I., Burton, I., & Lavell, A. (2016). Forensic investigations of disasters (FORIN): A conceptual framework and guide to research. IRDR FORIN Publication No. 2. Beijing, China: Integrated Research on Disaster Risk.Find this resource:

Putra, R., & Toumbourou, T. (2016, April 20). Civil society takes on the haze crisis in Indonesia. InAsia: Weekly Insight and Analysis.Find this resource:

Rowlands, A. (2004). Reappraising social work’s contribution to recovery from disaster and trauma: Applying a strengths perspective. Asia Pacific Journal of Social Work, 14(2), 67–85.Find this resource:

Sakai, M., & Fauzia, A. (2014). Key factors for capacity-building of disaster relief operations: Indonesian examples. In M. Sakai, E. Jurriens, J. Zhang, & A. Thornton (Eds.), Disaster relief in the Asia Pacific: Agency and resilience (pp. 35–51). Abington, U.K.: Routledge.Find this resource:

The Irrawaddy. (2018, April 30). With warning drums and river cleanups, Indonesian women head off disasters.

Wijsen, M. (2018, March 12). This is our world. It’s time for youth to act against climate change. Euronews.Find this resource:

Wisner, B., Gaillard, J. C., & Kelman, I. (2012). Framing disaster: Theories and stories seeking to understand hazards, vulnerability and risk. In B. Wisner, J. C. Gaillard, & I. Kelman (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of hazards and disaster risk reduction (pp. 18–33). London, U.K.: Routledge.Find this resource:

YAKKUM Emergency Unit. (2017). Women resilience practices.

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