D5.6 Collaboration and involvement of stakeholders in DRR
The document describes how stakeholders have been involved in the ENGAGE project and reports the main findings collected from this involvement. It evidences the main role of stakeholders in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and emphasizes the importance of collaboration among diverse entities, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations and local communities. The document underscores the project’s commitment to interacting with stakeholders and leveraging their diverse perspectives.
The main stakeholders in ENGAGE encompass first responders, national authorities, civil society organizations, business organizations, researchers, various community representatives and citizens. These stakeholders have been involved as partners of the ENGAGE consortium, members of its Advisory Board (Knowledge and Innovation Community of Practice – KICoP) or through a set of dedicated exercises. Special attention in the exercises has been given to the engagement of citizens, highlighted as a key factor in enhancing overall resilience. Volunteering contribution of citizens as been classified as organized and non-organized. Organised voluntary engagement is provided within an institutionalized context. These entities ensure a more smooth and organized collaboration with first responders and authorities. Non-organised forms of volunteering are triggered by individual engagement beyond the context of an organization. They are divided into externals and locals. The first ones offer their help and may arrive unsolicited at the scene of the event. The latter are local people responding to the disaster. They are usually the first on the scene and being local have a deep knowledge of important characteristics of the area of the event, such as the inhabitants distribution and the vulnerable people location.
ENGAGE used a large variety of methods and tools to interact and involve stakeholders. These included:
- Seven case studies, useful mainly to understand the role of the different stakeholders and their contribution to DRR.
- Two surveys, for understanding the role of citizens and their relation with public authorities (e.g. first responders, local and national authorities).
- Six workshops, spread during the whole lifecycle of the project. The aim was to involve and interact with the stakeholders on the specific problems and needs of relevance during the project.
- One public interactive event with the citizens to: i) listen the citizen experience in disaster management and in particular their relation with public authority; ii) understand how they managed informal Solutions; iii) understand the role of citizens in the different phases of disaster management.
- Four large scale exercises to validate projects solutions.
- Two table top and collaborative serious games. To guide discussions around the main topics emerged during the project and related with the interaction between stakeholders.
These methods and tools brought to the identification of important aspects of the interactions between stakeholders, showcasing the benefits of collaboration among formal stakeholders and organized and non-organized volunteers in disaster management. It highlights the advantages of resource sharing, knowledge collaboration, and coordinated communication among stakeholders.
The main advantages regarding the interaction between formal stakeholders (first responders and authorities) include:
- Resources like personnel, equipment, and supplies that can be shared more easily ensuring a more efficient response.
- Scientists, emergency responders, and community leaders can collaborate to combine their knowledge and expertise;
- Accurate and timely communication can be provided and different stakeholders can more easily reach the desired audience;
- More simple and unified and coordinated response;
- Collaboration between public, private, and non-profit sectors can result in a more comprehensive and effective approach.
Advantages regarding collaboration between first responders and authorities with volunteers include:
- Organized volunteers can assist in medical care, provide emergency services in areas or side activities not completely covered by dedicated emergency personnel, provide psychosocial support, help in the provision of supplies, and logistics;
- Local volunteers can support preparedness actions with their local knowledge and traditional practices;
- In the immediate aftermath of an event local spontaneous volunteers are the first one on site during and can provide essential first aid to those hit by the events;
- Local spontaneous volunteers know their territory and have information that can be essential for the intervention;
- Local spontaneous volunteers have consolidated social relationships with the members of the community and are close to citizen in vulnerable conditions, and can facilitate interactions with them;
- Spontaneous volunteers can provide additional resources that emergency services can miss especially during the first phases of an intervention;
- Local spontaneous volunteers are also those remaining on site after the emergency and they need to have a role on the planning of the intervention actions that can have an influence on the return to normal life.
However, the project identified also several challenges in collaboration. For formal stakeholders these include communication barriers, lack of standardization, resource allocation issues, and interagency coordination. For the interaction between formal stakeholders and volunteers the issues include:
- Inconsistent training and skill levels between volunteers;
- Limited availability of time by volunteers, especially in the long term and after the first phases of an emergency;
- Lack of volunteers familiarity with the established communication channels and protocols used by professional responders bringing to coordination and communication challenges;
- Risk for the volunteers who may not have the same level of training and protective equipment as professional responders;
- Legal and liability issues associated with the intervention of volunteers;
- Citizen consider inadequate most of the training and preparedness actions organized for them, that should be more contextualized and explained (for example explaining the reasons of the intervention choices);
- Spontaneous and non organised volunteers, are often not considered by the authority, especially after the first phase of an emergency, this is also true for local volunteers who could have an important role while planning and organising recovering;
- Information and situational awareness are always a key problem for volunteers including when they are part of an organized group;
The project identified some solutions that could solve some of the issues listed above and that are available in the ENGAGE Catalogue of Solutions.