Abstracts are sorted in accordance with the programme.

Part I: Complexity Thinking: Vulnerability Analysis of Critical Infrastructure

Network Thinking: Understanding interdependencies and interconnectivity to support vulnerability analysis and DRR

Dr Anthony J Masys and Dr Nibedita Ray-Bennett (University of Leicester, UK)

Recently the global threat landscape has seen the emergence of high impact, low probability events. Events like Hurricane Katrina, the Great Japan Earthquake and tsunami, Hurricane Sandy, Super Typhoon Haiyan, global terrorist activities have become the new normal. Extreme events challenge our understanding regarding the interdependencies and complexity of the disaster aetiology and are often referred to as Black Swans. Taleb (2007) describes black swans as that which is an outlier, that which is outside the realm of regular expectations which carries with it an extreme impact such as natural disasters, market crashes, catastrophic failure of complex socio-technical systems and terrorist events such as 9/11. These “surprising events” reflect an organizations inability to recognize evidence of new vulnerabilities or the existence of ineffective countermeasures (Woods, 2006, p. 24). This necessitates the requirement to readjust to their existence and thereby the need to consider the extremes (Taleb, 2007, p. xx). This complex threat and risk landscape characterized by hyper/hybrid-risks (Masys et al., 2014) calls for new approaches to better understand the disaster events to support disaster risk reduction and resilience. This paper will discuss the application of ‘network thinking’ as an approach to reveal the interdependencies and interconnectivity inherent within the hyper-risks that characterizes our current threat and risk landscape and in this way support vulnerability analysis and disaster risk reduction.

Emerging Critical Infrastructure Vulnerabilities: a perspective of systems thinking & reflective scenario planning

Dr Tie Xu and Dr Anthony J Masys (University of Modern Sciences Dubai and University of Leicester, UK)

Critical Infrastructure (CI) has become fundamental to the functioning of our economy and the public wellbeing in all countries, both within and across borders. Modern society increasingly depends on the goods and services provided by critical infrastructures. The failure or damage of electric power grid, transportation links, telecommunication networks, healthcare and water-supply systems would not only cause huge social disruption and crippling effect on the civil security but also affect the economic well-being of any nation. Critical infrastructure can be broadly defined as the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual ‘[…] so vital and ubiquitous that their incapacity or destruction would not only affect the security and social welfare of any nation, but also cascade across borders’ (Gheorghe, et al., 2013: 3). The interdependency and interconnectivity that characterizes the CI domain makes it highly complex. Vespignani (2010:984) argues that ‘…relatively localized damage in one system may lead to failure in another, triggering a disruptive avalanche of cascading and escalating failures. Understanding the fragility induced by multiple interdependencies is one of the major challenges in the design of resilient infrastructures’.
Recent disasters such as Japan Earthquake/Tsunami (2011), Hurricane Sandy (2012) and Typhoon Haiyan (2013) highlight the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to conjoint events of social, natural and technical disasters. Therefore, it is argued that events of socio-technical failure can be understood only by analyzing its paradigm of interdependency, complexity and wholeness. Systems thinking and scenario planning have their applications as reflective practices to enable resilience through ‘active foresight’.
By drawing upon an analysis of CI vulnerabilities within the UAE through the application of systems thinking (in particular Actor Network Theory) and scenario planning, this paper illustrates how a network mindset can support critical infrastructure protection by revealing the hyper/hybrid risks (Masys et al., 2014), the systemic complexity and interdependency-induced vulnerability.

Part II: Systems Thinking, Systems Failure and Systems Alignment for DRR and Development

Why more women die in disasters than men? : Making the case for ‘systems failure’

Dr Nibedita S Ray-Bennett and Mr Bede Wilson (University of Leicester, UK)

Global disaster mortality data by gender and class indicates that more women die in disasters than men (Lass et al., 2011; Neumayer and Plümper, 2007; Kapur, 2010; WHO, 2005). This research offers two analytical tools ‘systems failure’ and ‘systems alignment’ to explore why this may be the case. The mainstream disaster risk reduction (DRR) studies explain that human deaths (including women’s) are accidents, triggered by natural hazards—an inevitable occurrence in an environment that is physically vulnerable. Whereas ‘gender and disaster’ studies argue that women’s subordination and vulnerability is rooted in everyday social and cultural practices. In times of disaster, this subordinate position increases the likelihood of women’s vulnerability (including death) to environmental hazards.
This research, on the other hand posits that the reasons for women’s deaths are rather complex. They are complex because they occur at the seams of nature-human-technology failures which is illustrated through the analytical tool called ‘systems failure’. Systems fail when there is a gap between the wider system and the sub-system thinking which can manifest through different worldviews (Weltanschauung) (Checkland, 1985), deficient communication and deficient organisation (Lalonde, 2012). The consequence of this failure is ‘emergent behaviour’ (Kast and Rosenzweig, 1972; Waring, 1989) which means more women’s death during disasters. ‘Systems alignment’, the second analytical tool, on the other hand, aims to reduce the systems gap by accommodating worldviews, re-structuring organisations and enhancing communication (between hard and soft systems). Perfect systems alignment is difficult to achieve in a highly politicised ‘messy, ill-structured, real-world’ (Vickers, 1983; Checkland, 1985). However, a ‘weaker’ version of systems alignment by designing an overall objective to reduce women’s death amongst all the actors who work at the interface of natural-human-technology systems can lead to a positive outcome. Odisha, an eastern state of India is used as a case study to illustrate this. It is anticipated that this research will aid effective policy planning and generate new research to reduce human deaths at large.

Towards a systems approach to drought resilience in the Horn of Africa

Mr Samuel Akera, Mr J.A.C. Manzano, Mr L. Ogallo, Dr Nibedita S Ray-Bennett and Dr Anthony J Masys (UNDP, Nairobi, GAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), Nairobi and University of Leicester)

Over the past decades, the Horn of Africa (HoA) has experienced some of the worst disasters in the World. With 60-70 per cent of the land area classified as arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), the region is particularly vulnerable to frequent and prolonged drought that usually result into catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
Contemporary literature attributes the causes of drought crisis in the HoA to several factors such as insufficient rainfall, environmental degradation, desertification, population growth, poverty and climate change. These arrays of challenges unarguably lead to negative socio-economic and environmental effects such as loss of lives and livestock, hunger and food insecurity, malnutrition, shortage of water for human and animal consumption, poverty, displacement and resource-based conflict. In order to address the challenges posed by drought, humanitarian organizations in the past designed and implemented various interventions that are normally in line with their institutional mandates.
While the linear cause – effect relationship as presented above is undisputable, and that the existing approach to drought management may incrementally mitigate the impact of the crisis, this paper takes a systems approach to provide an alternative explanation to the causes and solution to drought crises in the Horn of Africa. More concretely, this paper argues that the drought crisis in the HOA can also be understood as a case for ‘systems failure’ (Masys, 2012; Ray-Bennett, forthcoming). The case for systems failure is argued through lack of coordination, disjointed communication and fragmented programming. The operationalization of Inter-governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) in three countries namely Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia are showcased as some of the early initiatives in the region to rectify systems failure for effective drought management. It is anticipated that this paper will aid policy planning, improved practise and generate new research to address drought resilience in the HOA and beyond.

Disaster Dynamics: The Unintended Effects of Disaster Resilience Initiatives

Mr. Bede Wilson (University of Leicester)

A key component of Australia’s National Strategy for Disaster Resilience is ‘shared responsibility’, the idea that governments, businesses, non-government organisations and individuals need to collectively adopt greater responsibility for disaster resilience. In examining the small community of Springbrook, Wilson (2015) highlighted that differing world views may lead to entirely different perspectives on how responsibilities should be shared. In this paper, system dynamics is used to further examine responsibilities for resilience in the Springbrook community. Interactions between world views are modelled using causal loop diagrams to examine the effect of disaster resilience initiatives designed to promote shared responsibility. Through this it is found that interventions intended to improve disaster preparedness can in fact reinforce existing behaviours, and that it is the dynamics of the community itself that generate these seemingly counter-intuitive effects. In doing so the research also highlights the complexity of community resilience and the benefit of systems thinking in highlighting new policy options.

Trust, emergent learning and building of communities of practice: Lessons we can draw from the case of drought proofing in Maharashtra, India

Dr Supriya Akerkar (Oxford-Brookes University)

The relationship between social resilience and ecological resilience and their interdependence in any ecosystem has now been studied (Gadgil et al 1988; Blakie et al 1987; Adger 2000). Studies have posited how disturbances to ecological systems have undermined livelihoods of people and social institutions which sustained these livelihoods. Similarly, they have noted how changes implemented by alien powers (such as by imperial powers) in the social institutions, namely rules of behaviour amongst the community members have led to destruction or degradation of ecological systems (Grove, 1997; Rangarajan, 1991). However what are less well understood are the social processes of learning under which such degraded ecological systems and livelihoods can be revived and revitalised. This paper studies the transition made by a drought affected village: Hiwre Bazaar in Maharashtra India into a drought resistant village. This paper argues that the revival of ecological diversity and livelihoods and their sustainability are dependent upon the ability of the community leadership to undertake social learning strategies that emphasise such revival. In particular it shows that the ability of the community to undertake emergent learning as they work towards ecological revival is vital to build new social institutions of trust which protect and value this revival. It further argues that replication of such successes requires a conscious strategy of building communities of practice that enable trust through emergent learning in order to encourage social and ecological resilience.

Part III: Tackling Complexities and Hyper-Risks

Co-learning in Nepal: How can we learn from each other? Realising co-learning between experts and non-experts

Dr Hideyuki Shiroshita (Kansai University, Japan)

Based on the lessons learned from the Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004, it can be said that disaster education as knowledge transmission is important. However, the Japanese Tohoku Tsunami 2011 case showed a different result. When Tohoku tsunami occurred, most people did not evacuate immediately although they had had basic understanding of tsunamis and how to deal with them. Instead of expeditious evacuation, the people waited for the official information from the tsunami warning by the weather bureau in Japan and the tsunami evacuation order by the local government.
Several recent studies (e.g. Yamori, 2013) have already pointed out the reason the people had not evacuated immediately. These studies focused on the relation between experts and non-experts and identified the reason the non-experts depend on the experts. In addition, it is also pointed out that knowledge transmission from experts to non-experts through disaster education strengthens this dependence. In order to solve this issue, several solutions that attempt to change the relation between experts and non-experts have been proposed.
However, co-learning as a way of collaboration between experts and non-experts is not easy. This is because disaster co-learning is defined as the situation that BOTH experts and non-experts mutually learn something related to disasters or disaster managements. In many cases, only the non-experts learn from the collaboration. In other words, the experts transmit knowledge to the non-experts through the collaboration. As Freire (Paulo Freire, 1970) stated ‘one cannot expect positive results from an educational programme which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people’, it is therefore recognized that the experts should also learn from the non-experts through the collaboration.
In this presentation, a way of realising co-learning is proposed based on the case studies both in Nepal and Japan. Finding out embedded ideas in our daily life become the learning resource for the experts will be explained.

A Critical Pedagogy of Risk: Empowering Children with Knowledge and Skills for DRR

Dr Briony Towers (RMIT University, Australia)

In recent years, the concept of child-centred disaster risk reduction (CC-DRR) has gained significant traction in DRR research, policy, and programming. In essence, CC-DRR involves strengthening children’s knowledge and skills so that they understand the risk of disasters in their communities and are able to take a lead role in reducing those risks. As such, education for DRR should be considered a fundamental element of any CC-DRR initiative. Yet, discussions relating to questions of pedagogy (or instructional strategy) are notably absent from the contemporary CC-DRR discourse. This paper seeks to initiate discussion and debate in this area by proposing a critical pedagogy of risk. Drawing on the pioneering work of Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, Ira Schor and Joe Kincheloe, the paper presents a model of DRR education that is 1) grounded on a social and educational vision of justice and equality, 2) constructed on the belief that education is inherently political, and 3) dedicated to the alleviation of human suffering. The model also emphasises the importance of generative and topical themes as tools for enhancing knowledge of DRR at local, national and global scales. The paper concludes with a discussion of the value of a critical pedagogy of risk to integrative risk management and a brief discussion of some of the challenges involved in making a critical pedagogy of risk a classroom reality.

Reactive to Pro-active to Reflective Disaster Responses: Introducing Critical Reflective Practices in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

Dr Nibedita S Ray-Bennett, Dr Anthony Masys, Dr Hideyuki Shiroshita and Professor Peter Jackson (University of Leicester)

Beck (1992) described the modern or post-industrial landscapes as a ‘risk society’. The fundamental characteristic of this risk society is its interconnectedness and interdependence which make systems and networks highly complex so much so that they are often vulnerable to abrupt failures. The landscape of risk society is highly prone to social, natural and technical hazards. The ‘dangers’ created from the combination of these hazards in this interconnected world are hyper/hybrid-risks illustrated through the increase in ‘natural’/environmental and naturally triggered technical (NATECH) disasters in general. In such a context, this paper calls for a ‘reflective response’ one that is based on critical reflective practices and systems thinking to counter hyper-risks and develop organisational resilience. Some methodologies and methods to promote reflective response are discussed. Usefulness of a reflective response and disaster risk reduction (DRR) are also explored. A charter of reflective response is suggested.