Risk, Resilience, and Response

Ronak B. Patel, Beth J. Maclin, Nirma D. Bustamante, and Hannah Wild. 12/2017. Investigating Gender Based Insecurity & Mobility: Multi-City Report.Abstract

Rapid urbanization is the most significant demographic shift taking place. By the year 2050, it is predicted that 70% of the world population will be urban. The urban poor live in a state of chronic crisis and reside in extremely dense informal settlements without basic infrastructure or services. High levels of insecurity are of particular concern. Due to their unofficial status, density, high concentrations of poverty and, often, high turnover, urban informal settlements are either extremely difficult to police or effectively remain un-policed and ungoverned. While all residents of urban informal settlements face significant insecurity and susceptibility to violent crimes, women are especially vulnerable. 

This formative research seeks to determine the experiences, sources and effects of GBV and GBI among the urban extreme poor of Dhaka, Bangladesh; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the goal of informing the development of a pilot survey instrument to measure the prevalence and impact of GBI in selected urban informal settlements of the same three cities. 

Susan Andrea Bartels, Saja Michael, Sophie Roupetz, Stephanie Garbern, Lama Kilzar, Harveen Bergquist, Nour Bakhache, Colleen Davison, and Annie Bunting. 1/2018. “Making sense of child, early and forced marriage among Syrian refugee girls: a mixed methods study in Lebanon.” BMJ Global Health, 3, 1. Read PublicationAbstract

The Syrian conflict has resulted in over 2.3 million child refugees in the Middle East and the prevalence of early marriage has reportedly increased among displaced Syrian families. This study explores the underlying factors contributing to child marriage among Syrian refugees in Lebanon with the goal of informing community-based strategies to address the issue.

In July–August 2016, trained interviewers collected self-interpreted stories in Lebanon using Cognitive Edge’s SenseMaker, a mixed-method data collection tool. Participants included married and unmarried Syrian girls, Syrian parents as well as married and unmarried men. Each participant shared a story about the experiences of Syrian girls and then interpreted the story by plotting their perspectives on a variety of questions. Patterns in the responses were analysed in SPSS and the accompanying qualitative narratives were reviewed to facilitate interpretation of the quantitative results.

Vincenzo Bollettino, Tilly Alcayna, Krish Enriquez, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2018. Perceptions of Disaster Resilience and Preparedness in the Philippines.Abstract

The Philippines is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. Located along the boundary of major tectonic plates and at the center of a typhoon belt, its islands are regularly impacted by floods, typhoons, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes, and droughts. The Philippines also ranks among the top three countries in the world for population exposure and vulnerability to hazards. The Philippine government has developed strong coping mechanisms over their long history of experience with disasters. Yet, significant gaps remain in disaster management capacities across different regions of the Philippines and surprisingly little data are available referencing local levels of disaster resilience and preparedness.

This research aims to address the gap in knowledge on both local disaster resilience and preparedness by providing a comprehensive overview of household measures of resilience and levels of disaster preparedness. This is the first nationwide household survey on measures of disaster resilience and disaster preparedness carried out in the Philippines. It comes at a time of critical importance as efforts are being made to ensure disaster management is based on evidence, especially at the local level and amid national discussions on centralizing disaster resilience efforts under a single national agency.

Learn more by filling out our contact survey

Ronak B. Patel. 12/2018. “Precision Health in Disaster Medicine and Global Public Health.” Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 33, 6, Pp. 565 - 566. Read PublicationAbstract
Current debates about precision medicine take different perspectives on its relevance and value in global health. The term has not yet been applied to disaster medicine or humanitarian health, but it may hold significant value. An interpretation of the term for global public health and disaster medicine is presented here for application to vulnerable populations. Embracing the term may drive more efficient use and targeting of limited resources while encouraging innovation and adopting the new approaches advocated in current humanitarian discourse.
Ronak B. Patel and Jay Chadhuri. 3/2019. “Revisiting the Sphere standards: comparing the revised Sphere standards to living standards in three urban informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.” Journal of International Humanitarian Action, 4, 6. Read PublicationAbstract
Humanitarian actors have long used the Sphere Handbook and its minimum standards to guide operational practice. The new revision attempts to update these standards partly to address urban crises that have challenged the humanitarian system. Yet, these indicators have never been based on a substantial body of evidence or data from the varied living standards found in cities or specifically informal settlements. This study aims to contextualize the Sphere standards for urban populations by comparing a sample of the revised key indicators to living standards in three urban informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya, during a non-crisis period to examine their relevance and applicability, and discuss the implications.
Mihir Bhatt, Kelsey Gleason, and Ronak B. Patel. 1/2019. “Natural Hazards Governance in South Asia.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science. Read PublicationAbstract
South Asia is faced with a range of natural hazards, including floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis. Rapid and unplanned urbanization, environmental degradation, climate change, and socioeconomic conditions are increasing citizens’ exposure to and risk from natural hazards and resulting in more frequent, intense, and costly disasters. Although governments and the international community are investing in disaster risk reduction, natural hazard governance in South Asian countries remain weak and often warrants a review when a major natural disaster strikes. Natural hazards governance is an emerging concept, and many countries in South Asia have a challenging hazard governance context.
Patrick Vinck, Phuong Pham, Kenedy Bungu, Juliet Bedford, and Eric Nilles. 3/2019. “Institutional trust and misinformation in the response to the 2018–19 Ebola outbreak in North Kivu, DR Congo: a population-based survey.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 19, 5, Pp. 529-536. Read PublicationAbstract
The current outbreak of Ebola in eastern DR Congo, beginning in 2018, emerged in a complex and violent political and security environment. Community-level prevention and outbreak control measures appear to be dependent on public trust in relevant authorities and information, but little scholarship has explored these issues. We aimed to investigate the role of trust and misinformation on individual preventive behaviours during an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD).
Tilly Alcayna, Vincenzo Bollettino, Lea Manzanero, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2019. Perceptions of Vulnerability, Preparedness, Assistance, and Barriers: Regional Infographics, the Philippines.Abstract

This report provides a regional breakdown of household perceptions and self-reported activities on several key questions related to disaster preparedness and recovery in the Philippines. These are: who and what is vulnerable? What preparedness activities have households undertaken? What assistance have households received and what helped them recover the most? What are the barriers?

The report is intended to be used in conjunction with the full report “Perceptions of Disaster Resilience and Preparedness in the Philippines” (2018), which explores perceptions on a wider variety of disaster related issues in greater detail. Data for both reports were derived from a nationwide, household-level survey of randomly selected adults aged 18 years old and above, representing all of Philippines economic strata, conducted in 2017.

Vincenzo Bollettino and Sarah Ferguson. 5/2020. “Case Study: Academic/NGO Collaboration to Understand Climate Change and Disaster Resilience Implementation in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh”.Abstract
This case study describes a research collaboration between an academic institution and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) designed to inform programs to strengthen coordination in Bangladesh. The case describes the rationale for conducting the study, the research process, and outcomes of the research. The objective of the case study is to support local or municipal governments, NGOs, students, or other program managers to consider how collaboration with academic institutions could enhance their programs, as well as how research such as a network analysis could be useful to inform their work. For those interested in conducting a network analysis, the case also provides resources and tools to support researchers and organizations to replicate the study in their program context.
Sarah Ferguson, Vincenzo Bollettino, Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, Rachel Dickinson, Alexis Smart, and Evan Bloom. 5/2020. “Bangladesh Network Analysis Report”.Abstract
Coordination among actors during an emergency is crucial for effective, efficient action. The existence of pre-disaster relationships between actors can strengthen the speed with which coordination occurs in a disaster setting, making relationshipbuilding before a disaster an important element of preparedness. As such, understanding the relationships between stakeholders working to advance disaster resilience and response is a crucial first step to support institutional strengthening and capacity building. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), Concern Worldwide, and Jagrata Juba Shangha (JJS) are jointly implementing programs to enhance climate change adaptation and disaster resilience among coastal communities in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh. This district is located in Bangladesh’s low-elevation coastal zones, which are especially vulnerable to natural disasters and have already begun to see the effects of climate change. Bagerhat has high levels of food and water insecurity and poverty, and is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change impacts (5). The district has been heavily impacted by recent cyclones, and is experiencing sea level rise and saltwater intrusion. This network analysis was undertaken to support strengthening coordination and collaboration among actors working on climate change adaptation and disaster resilience in Bagerhat.
Abdulrazzaq Al-Saiedi, Kevin Coughlin, Muslih Irwani, Waad Ibrahim Khalil, Phuong Pham, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2020. “English Version: "Never Forget: Views on Peace and Justice Within Conflict-Affected Communities in Northern Iraq"”.Abstract

This survey offers a snapshot of the perceptions and attitudes about peace and justice within communities affected by the conflict with the Islamic State (IS). It is based on 5,213 interviews conducted in 2019 among a representative sample of internally displaced persons in northern Iraq and residents of the city of Mosul and surrounding areas.The research documents a severe lack of trust in official institutions, particularly in the Government of Iraq itself, stemming in large part from the belief that these institutions do not act in the best interest of the population. Few respondents had confidence in the Government of Iraq’s ability to investigate the crimes committed by the Islamic State fairly and accurately and to provide justice to survivors of the conflict.Despite the mistrust, respondents favor local justice and truth-seeking mechanisms. They view these efforts as necessary to build a durable peace, alongside measures to address the root causes of the rise of IS and longstanding divisions between the people of Iraq. However, rather than the challenge being diversity itself, the challenge is the Government of Iraq’s ability to promote and facilitate reconciliation and unity.Without an accountable government that is perceived to be legitimate and is trusted by all Iraqis, calls for justice and accountability may go unanswered, and the country risks slipping back into another conflict.

The research was conducted by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in partnership with Mosul University and the Iraq-based Public Policy Institute. It was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, which played no role in the design, analysis or publication of the research.

Abdulrazzaq Al-Saiedi, Kevin Coughlin, Muslih Irwani, Waad Ibrahim Khalil, Phuong Pham, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2020. “الترجمة العربية (Arabic Version): "Never Forget: Views on Peace and Justice Within Conflict-Affected Communities in Northern Iraq"”.Abstract

This survey offers a snapshot of the perceptions and attitudes about peace and justice within communities affected by the conflict with the Islamic State (IS). It is based on 5,213 interviews conducted in 2019 among a representative sample of internally displaced persons in northern Iraq and residents of the city of Mosul and surrounding areas.The research documents a severe lack of trust in official institutions, particularly in the Government of Iraq itself, stemming in large part from the belief that these institutions do not act in the best interest of the population. Few respondents had confidence in the Government of Iraq’s ability to investigate the crimes committed by the Islamic State fairly and accurately and to provide justice to survivors of the conflict.Despite the mistrust, respondents favor local justice and truth-seeking mechanisms. They view these efforts as necessary to build a durable peace, alongside measures to address the root causes of the rise of IS and longstanding divisions between the people of Iraq. However, rather than the challenge being diversity itself, the challenge is the Government of Iraq’s ability to promote and facilitate reconciliation and unity.Without an accountable government that is perceived to be legitimate and is trusted by all Iraqis, calls for justice and accountability may go unanswered, and the country risks slipping back into another conflict.

The research was conducted by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in partnership with Mosul University and the Iraq-based Public Policy Institute. It was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, which played no role in the design, analysis or publication of the research.

Phuong Pham, Vincenzo Bollettino, Patrick Vinck, Ariana Marnicio, Lea Ivy Manzanero, Mark Toldo, Rachel Dickinson, Alexis Smart, and Evan Bloom. 10/2020. “Network Analysis of Actors Working to Support Disaster Preparedness and Resilience in the Philippines”.Abstract
The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) partnered with Root Change to conduct a network analysis of actors working to support disaster preparedness and resilience in the Philippines. The study design is modeled after a summative phase external evaluation that HHI conducted in 2016-2017 on the START Network’s Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Program (DEPP). Network analysis techniques applied in this evaluation have been adapted from the DEPP work to analyze the disaster resilience network in coastal Bangladesh under the Resilient Communities Program. In this report, we present the network analysis and methods used. We also detail findings and recommendations for HHI and other in-country partners about how these results can inform programs to strengthen disaster resilience and climate change in the Philippines.

Pages