It is well recognized that preexisting social connections and networks help people adapt and provide for more positive outcomes in the aftermath of a disaster. The role of place, of local neighborhood, in helping people to adapt and manage through the difficult times is developing. Neighborhood, the place where people live, can help facilitate the important informal response to disasters—where residents come together and provide mutual support. Features such as well-defined geography, intimate streets, walkable access to social infrastructure and natural spaces, and central meeting places all help to build the social connections that foster community resilience. Another important element is the community-focused groups that are already in place, especially ones with people who know their areas and who to support. Community resilience is a consequence of having good social connections, with social infrastructure helping to facilitate those connections; these are the same social and physical characteristics of neighborhoods that influence local health and well-being. The main message is that it is possible to develop urban environments in a way that provides multiple benefits. Social connections make people happier and healthier; they can learn from village life that can improve their future living environments, ones that are healthy and resilient. A vibrant well-connected neighborhood community with walkable access to natural spaces, to local shops and schools, and to places for locals to gather is healthy, self-reliant, and more resilient.
People with disability are disproportionately impacted by disaster events. They are two to four times more likely to die in a disaster, experience higher risk of injury and loss of property, have greater difficulty evacuating, sheltering, and require more intensive health and social services during and after disaster. While these impacts stem from a range of factors that increase the vulnerability of people with disability to disaster, a significant barrier to the safety and well-being of people with disability is their absence from emergency management practice and policy formulation. In 2014, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction recognized this as a universal challenge. Global Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR) initiatives and policy advocacy has helped to advance the incorporation of accessibility, inclusion, and universal design principles into the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015–2030. DIDRR requires shared responsibility of multiple stakeholders working together to identify and remove barriers that increase risk for people with disability before, during, and after disaster. Yet, governments and emergency personnel are faced with the intractable problem of how to develop shared responsibility between local government, emergency personnel, people with disability, and the services that support them. Methods, tools, and programmatic guidance are needed to ensure that people with disability and their support needs are at the center of emergency management. The Person-Centered Emergency Preparedness (P-CEP) framework and process tool offers a new approach for enacting DIDRR; shifting emphasis to preparedness by people with disability in partnership with emergency personnel. The P-CEP was developed through a co-design process involving multiple stakeholders, including people with disability and their support networks. Grounded in the Capability Approach, the P-CEP integrates factors that facilitate personal emergency preparedness together with principles of person-centered planning to enable emergency managers to learn about the preparedness, capabilities, and support needs of people with disability and work together with people and the services that support them toward the development of local community-level DIDRR. The P-CEP takes an all-hazards approach by incorporating self-assessment and tailored preparedness planning for disasters triggered by natural hazard events and other emergencies (e.g., house fire, pandemic). The P-CEP has three components: (a) a capability framework consisting of eight elements to support self-assessment of strengths and support needs; (b) principles guiding the joint effort of multiple stakeholders to enable tailored emergency preparedness planning; and (c) four process steps enabling the developmental progression of preparedness actions and facilitating linkages between people with disability, their support services, and emergency personnel. The P-CEP is being used to advance individual and shared responsibilities for DIDRR in Australian communities through the incremental development of awareness about and responsiveness to the support needs that people with disability have in emergencies. Future research will apply P-CEP to the design of programs and services that: (a) increase the emergency preparedness of people with disability; and (b) ensure that information about the extra supports that people with disability need in emergencies is included in the design of disability-inclusive emergency planning.
Sonia Akter and Shaleen Khanal
The link between risk perception and risk response is not straightforward. There are several individual, community, and national factors that determine how climate change risk is perceived and how much of the perception translates to response. The nexus between risk perception and risk response in the context of water resource management at the individual, household, community, and institutional level has been subject of a large body of theoretical and empirical studies from around the globe. At the individual level, vulnerability, exposure, and cognitive factors are important determinants of climate change risk perception and response. At the community level, risk perception is determined by culture, social pressure, and group identity. Responses to risk vary depending on the level of social cohesion and collective action. At the national level, public support is a key determinant of institutional response to climate change, particularly for democratic nations. The level of global cooperation and major polluting countries’ willingness to curb their fair share of greenhouse gas emissions also deeply influence policymakers’ decisions to respond to climate change risk.
Suzanne Vallance and Ashley Rudkevitch
Disaster scholarship has resurrected interest in social capital, and it has become well established that strong social ties—bonding capital—can also help individuals and communities to survive in times of crisis, as well as provide substantial and wide-ranging benefits on the long road to recovery. The theoretical tripartite of bonding capital generated in “close ties,” bridging capital developed through “associations,” and linking capital from possibly cool but nonetheless “civil” encounters is also reasonably well established. So too are the currencies of trust and reciprocity. Social capital is noted to be a potent resource capable of facilitating many benefits in terms of health and well-being, and it is considered fundamental to post-disaster attempts to Build Back Better in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Indeed, the idea of social capital has become almost synonymous with resilience. Nonetheless, it is also acknowledged that there may be disadvantages associated with social capital, such as tribalism, neoptism, and marginalization. Scholarship therefore paints a rather complex picture, and there is still considerable debate about what social capital is: what it does, where it comes from and where it goes, and for what purpose. Without denying the value of a celebratory approach that focuses on the benefits, it is concluded that there is a need for more attention to be given to the broader ideological contexts that may shape the generative and distributional effects of social capital, particularly as these underscore health and well-being outcomes post-disaster.
Claire E. Brolan
The COVID-19 crisis—the most catastrophic international public health emergency since the Spanish influenza 100 years ago—provides impetus to review the significance of public and global health in the context of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) achievement. When countries unanimously adopted the 17 SDGs in September 2015, stakeholders had mixed views on global health goal SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being). Concern arose over the feasibility of achieving SDG 3 by 2030 when countries pursued its nine targets and four means of implementation with sixteen other ambitious global goals. Nonetheless, health surely cuts across the SDG framework: for instance, the underlying health determinants are expressed in many goals as is urban and planetary health. Although health (and its different constructions) is central to overall SDG achievement, SDG success depends on a paradigm shift toward whole-of-government policy and planning. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda echoes calls for a Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach to public health programming. This depends on another paradigm shift in public health tertiary education, practitioner training, and policy skills development within and beyond ministries of health. Added to this are the underlying problematics around SDG health financing, human resources for health, health target and indicator localization for equitable country responses that leave no one behind, strengthening civil registration and vital statistics systems for inclusive and accountable health implementation, and the sidelining of human rights from SDG metrics. While COVID-19 has derailed SDG efforts, it could also be the ultimate game changer for intergenerational human and environmental health transformation. Yet strong global health governance and rights-based approaches remain key.
Karen Setty and Giuliana Ferrero
Water safety plans (WSPs) represent a holistic risk assessment and management approach covering all steps in the water supply process from the catchment to the consumer. Since 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) has formally recommended WSPs as a public health intervention to consistently ensure the safety of drinking water. These risk management programs apply to all water supplies in all countries, including small community supplies and large urban systems in both developed and developing settings. As of 2017, more than 90 countries had adopted various permutations of WSPs at different scales, ranging from limited-scale voluntary pilot programs to nationwide implementation mandated by legislative requirements. Tools to support WSP implementation include primary and supplemental manuals in multiple languages, training resources, assessment tools, and some country-specific guidelines and case studies. Systems employing the WSP approach seek to incrementally improve water quality and security by reducing risks and increasing resilience over time. To maintain WSP effectiveness, water supply managers periodically update WSPs to integrate knowledge about prior, existing, and potential future risks. Effectively implemented WSPs may translate to positive health and other impacts. Impact evaluation has centered on a logic model developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as WHO-refined indicators that compare water system performance to pre-WSP baseline conditions. Potential benefits of WSPs include improved cost efficiency, water quality, water conservation, regulatory compliance, operational performance, and disease reduction. Available research shows outcomes vary depending on site-specific context, and challenges remain in using WSPs to achieve lasting improvements in water safety. Future directions for WSP development include strengthening and sustaining capacity-building to achieve consistent application and quality, refining evaluation indicators to better reveal linked outcomes (including economic impacts), and incorporating social equity and climate change readiness.