Replicability framework for using culture as an asset in DRR

Elena López Gunn and Manuel Bea (ICATALIST)

The Case Study-based approach

Cultural factors play a key role in determining the way people respond to events, engage in crisis management and engage with disaster relief in an emergency situation. In addition, cultural backgrounds influence disaster preparedness, response and after-crisis recovery for both individuals and the society people belong to. Under this frame, a series of specific activities were implemented in six Case Study areas to help incorporate an understanding, sensitivity and develop competencies in relation to the role of culture as an asset in the full disaster risk reduction cycle. The activities have focused on cities with very different social and urban characteristics, cultural identities and with different kinds of exposure to disasters, i.e. Istanbul, L’Aquila, Lorca, Milan, cities in Umbria region and Volos, with a final aim to develop more resilient cities and improved disaster preparedness.

The case studies incorporate four so called frontrunner cities (Istanbul, L’Aquila, Lorca, Milan, and Volos), one region (Umbria) and two replicator cities (Valladolid and Dordrecht), which have different social and urban characteristics, cultural identities and with different kinds of exposure to disasters. These case studies vary in a number of elements, which has enriched the project by documenting and giving room to the characteristics and peculiarities of cities and their contexts, as well as their choices in terms of tools and methods tested, in a more “a la carte style”, which provides a useful lesson in terms of future replication. That is, how it is important to facilitate an ”adapt to adopt” approach to replicating tools and methods to help cities adopt those that are better suited to their conditions and that match their needs. This was the successful experience in the replicator cities (Dordrecht and Valladolid) which chose those tools and methods that better matched their interests and needs.

Table: Front runners and replicator cities that have participated and main hazard considered

ROLE PLAYED CITY SIZE NUMBER OF INHABITANTS HAZARD TARGETED
Frontrunners Istanbul Very Large 14,030,000 (2015) Earthquakes
  L’Aquila Medium 72.913(2008) Earthquakes
  Lorca Medium 91.759 (2014) Earthquakes and extreme climatic events
  Milan Large 1,251,000 (2012) Emergencies during a mega-event
  Volos Medium 144.449 (2011) Floods, earthquakes and economic crisis
  Region of Umbria Medium 894.762 (2015) Floods
Replicators Dordrecht Medium 118.810 (2011) Floods
  Valladolid Medium 306.830 (2014) Floods
  London Very Large 8,700,000 (2016) Emergencies during a mega-event

A series of digital local manuals document the exposure and past experience of these cities to hazards and how different tools and methods have been developed to incorporate culture. If you are for example interested in the role of cultural memory in DRR we encourage you to read the Case study manual on Volos, if you are interested in how to deal with emergencies in mega-events as a hotchpotch of culture have a look at the Milan case study. If on the other hand you want to learn about the role of different actors in DRR we encourage you to read the L’Aquila and Lorca cases. These examples include the lessons learnt/reflections in the selected case studies to highlight the experience gained on how to put in practice culture as an asset. These local manuals provide real examples on how to develop and implement cultural sensitive strategies, specific measures and tools.

These show how cities can and have engaged in processes aimed to incorporate culture into DRR through different tools and methods, with the aim to support local disaster preparation and response. This becomes part of mainstreaming the importance of culture into DRR by improving the recognition and integration of culture in disaster preparation and response in Europe.

Case studies used to understand the role of culture in DRR

This section focuses on the first learning loop in Case Studies. It provides the original basic information on the case studies for an identification of the context and core pilot activities. The context which forms the basis for the “adapt to adopt” is framed in terms of the description of physical, social and organizational variables relevant to the development of EDUCEN case studies. In addition, the delimitation of the context is supported by the provision of background information on the general characteristics of each case study, the identification of key groups and the specification of objectives and main problems to be tackled. Finally, the rationale behind the selection of each case study for the development and assessment of the specific pilot activities contributes to explain why this analysis is representative and provides a basis to facilitate transference into different contexts.

Istanbul case study

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Istanbul- Disability inclusive DRR: tools and methods as main objective from Istanbul

Turkey needs a comprehensive approach to disability and disasters, which would not only include the preparation and response phases but also the recovery phase, covering long-term impacts on victims, not to mention the need to address “normal-time” issues like the socio-economic conditions that generate most of the vulnerability. Such a macro-policy objective is not only beyond AKUT’s capacity (even beyond all similar NGOs’ capacity combined) but also out of EDUCEN’s scope. Istanbul CS addresses only a carefully selected section of a complex problem, in accordance with AKUT’s existing capacity, and capability within EDUCEN timeframe. AKUT will take use of one of its most valuable assets, that is, public disaster preparedness experience; the other being search and rescue capacity.

Istanbul CS’s objective is twofold. The first may be considered as “local”, since it consists of contributing to the reduction of Istanbul’s disabled community’s vulnerability to disasters in a sustainable manner. The second objective is “universal” and potentially more significant: to obtain a transferable pilot model or methodology from the Istanbul experience that can be used in other contexts for addressing the same or similar problems.

The core idea here is to empower disabled volunteers with AKUT’s disaster knowledge and assist them in empowering other members of the disabled community with the same knowledge. Yet, the “transfer” here is by no means unidirectional: Admitting that disability itself is a “knowledge”, disabled participants are required to work to adapt the existing disaster preparedness curriculum, even designing new programs from scratch if necessary, by bringing their own life experience and practical information to the table. This collaborative working scheme will ensure the active participation of disabled individuals to the action and foster mutual learning between disabled and non-disabled disaster volunteers. A series of parallel activities are also planned to further increase exchanges between disabled volunteers and members of Istanbul’s “disaster community”, whom we expect to facilitate to gain a new perspective on disability.

Introduction to Istanbul and disability inclusive DRR

The study will be conducted within the jurisdiction of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Istanbul is the largest city in Europe hosting a population of around 14 million inhabitants, ranking 5th overall in the world. It may be considered as the cultural and economic centre of Turkey. One peculiarity is its character of trans-continental city, occupying both shores of the Bosphorus strait which geographically imply the existence of a European side and an Asian side. Istanbul has undergone a significant change in parallel to Turkey’s socio-economic transformation. Like other Turkish urban centres, it has registered very high rates of immigration after the 1960s and plans to impose control and technical criteria to new urban developments have had limited success. The city is still one of the fastest growing ones in the world, on its way to become a mega-polis, with all the associated practical problems that result from this chaotic over-expansion grow steadily. The management of disaster risks is certainly one that rank high in priority among all these issues.

Istanbul has been disaster prone throughout its history. Historical records show that seismicity is without doubt the most important hazard. Notably, after a century of no activity, destructive earthquakes in 1999 reminded Istanbul’s dwellers that the risk would remain high in the future. However, other risks such as floods (increased further by human impact on the natural hydrological systems) and landslides should also not be underestimated. In addition to those “natural” hazards, the city is under constant threat from high-risk industrial facilities that are surrounded by residential areas and by the transportation of hazardous material through overcrowded land routes and the Bosphorus strait. Gigantic traffic congestion (usually combined with severe weather) are also increasingly common. Other scenarios can also be mentioned, like a large-scale health or food emergency, of which the potential consequences remained largely undiscussed so far.

As for the physical assets in Istanbul, their vulnerability to disasters is long recognized. A specific problem is that, despite the so-called “transformation of the urban zones under disaster risk”, action taken by the government (2005), a very large portion of the building stock remains highly vulnerable to earthquakes. This is alarming for a city that almost straddles one of the most active fault lines in the globe, which is expected to generate an M 7.0 or greater earthquake in the next decades. However, real-estate development and trade play a key role in Turkey’s developing economy, which result in high degrees of opposition to any tentative strict regulation in terms of land management and urbanization. This can be made worse by the potential for clientelistic schemes based on the manipulation of land and property as speculative- income sources, undermining risk mitigation and prevention efforts as well. Major earthquakes in the past in Turkey have often exposed corrupt practices and deliberate negligence in building codes encouraged by political clientelism. The predicted “Istanbul Earthquake” would probably not be an exception in this sense.

The link between clientelism and vulnerability -in the Turkish case- is indeed a revealing example of how social, economic and political conditions determine vulnerabilities in society. Some of these determinants have only however recently become part of the discussion since a technical-engineering perspective has so far dominated the mainstream discourse on disasters. It is now generally accepted that the differences in socio-economic conditions translate in different levels of vulnerability. But other inherent characteristics may also have significant impact on the vulnerability of a group. Age and gender are such two attributes, yet we believe that there is one characteristic that is more transcendent than any other: disability. Independently from their gender, age, income level or social status, disabled individuals constitute probably a group that endures the utmost hardship following a disaster. The social structure of Istanbul is characterised by highly different population segments and social groups, encompassing a wide cultural variety and very dissimilar life styles that co-exist (but increasingly get distanced from each other, mainly as a result of a growing inequality). Still, these differences tend to fade when disaster strikes.

Disabled people have special needs that are often neglected or classified under those pertaining to a broad category of “disadvantaged groups”, when emergency management plans are prepared. Moreover, the resources dedicated to the “disadvantaged” are usually disproportionally low for fulfilling those individuals’ needs and demands. Concerning Istanbul, some limited action has been taken since 1999 which is far from having overcome these shortfalls. Besides, not all citizens (disabled or non-disabled) will receive assistance following a disaster if we still consider disasters as singular moments where the existing capacity of both public and private services has been surpassed by demand. Consequently, additional action is needed to include the disabled in disaster preparedness processes and to increase their autonomy (and resilience) vis-à-vis catastrophes. Taking these needs into account, EDUCEN’s Istanbul Case Study aims to reduce this specific group of urban citizens’ vulnerability to disasters through a social action that could be replicated in other similar contexts.

Like any country across the globe, the disabled constitute a significantly large “minority” in Turkey, especially if we take into account individuals with chronic diseases. Although the latest available data (12 % of the general population) is from 2002, we have no reason to consider that this figure has decreased. The global estimated average, in a recent figure given by the World Health Organization, supports this proportion: 15 %. Again, according to the 2002 data, people with auditory, speech and visual impairments, orthopaedic and mental disabilities constitute 2.58 % of the general population in Turkey. Consequently, we can assume that Istanbul is home to a “core” disabled group of about 400.000 individuals considering also the increase in population since the last survey. As for the remaining 9.42 % (roughly 1.3 million people), this group is mainly composed of citizens with chronic health problems. Even though citizens with chronic conditions (if not coupled with a certain form of disability) often experience less limitations in life and possess a greater autonomy, this chronic group should be the subject of specific measures since they usually also have special needs to be addressed during and after a catastrophe.

L’Aquila case study

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L’Aquila: tools and methods for information flow in formal and informal cultural networks

The earthquake that almost destroyed the city of L’Aquila in 2009 provides especially useful information on the importance of cultural networks, due to some particularities of the management of this disaster. This event had a strong impact on the existing formal and informal urban networks, and particularly between local community and authorities.

Although some days before the episode the local communities were scared due to the long sequence of low-intense earthquakes, and that local knowledge was suggesting to find a shelter, official information channels disseminated reassuring information. Before that event, the authorities disseminated warnings based only on scientific and technical knowledge, neglecting the reliability of local community perception. Because of the good reputation of the Civil Protection Agency, at both local and national level, local communities had confidence in this information. Several people died in their home because they were not prepared for the disaster. This had a strong negative impact on the trust level of the local community towards the emergency managers, with consequences on the acceptability of emergency management and recovery measures.

After the earthquake, the local community was forced to abandon the city centre. New towns were developed in safer places, disaggregating the original socio-cultural networks. New social and cultural networks emerged after the disasters, with often different cultural aspects.

Introduction to L’Aquila and information networks in DRR to increase resilience

L’Aquila is a medium-size city, located in the Central Italy with a population of 70.221 inhabitants as of 2015, although many thousands more of tourists and foreign students visit the city yearly. It is the capital city of the Province of L’Aquila and the mountainous Abruzzo region. L’Aquila is surrounded by Apennine Mountains and very close to one of the most important natural protected areas in Italy: the National Park of ‘Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga’.

Figure 4. Location of the city of L’Aquila within Italy (Copyright of background map: Google, 2015)

Earthquakes have been present throughout the history of L’Aquila, a medieval city founded in 13th century. This fact derives of the situation of the city, partially upon an ancient lake-bed that amplifies seismic activity. There are documented episodes of serious earthquakes in 1315, 1349, 1452, 1461, 1501, 1646, 1703, 1706 and 1958; with thousands of casualties caused by these. On April 6, 2009, an earthquake of 5.9o on the Richter scale hit central Italy having its epicentre near L’Aquila. Official reports state that 308 people died directly because of the earthquake, and number of injured was approximately 1,500. The number of seriously damaged buildings was over 3,000, several of them collapsing. Most of the inhabitants of L’Aquila abandoned the city, with estimations that “around 40,000 people who were made homeless by the earthquake found accommodation in tented camps and a further 10,000 were housed in hotels on the coast” (The Guardian, 1 May 2009).

Before the earthquake, the city was well known for its historical heritage, being a walled city with a maze of narrow streets, lined by Baroque and Renaissance buildings.

The case study of L’Aquila explores how the role of culture, and in particular of cultural networks, can improve disaster risk reduction by focusing in this case on earthquakes. EDUCEN implementation in L’Aquila case aims to make authorities and emergency operators aware of the role played by local knowledge in DRR, and capable to integrate this knowledge in the DRR decision making processes.

Lorca case study

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Lorca and tools to map risk and information flow in flood emergencies

The Lorca case study aims to improve the internal capacity in the dissemination of crucial information during disaster events. In particular the focus is on how culture can become an asset to enhance a more efficient and wider transmission of information and thus improve disaster risk reduction to extreme events such as earthquakes, forest fires near populated areas or flash floods. Another key aim is raising awareness of the potential benefits of incorporating culture in DRR, especially focusing on regional and local authorities, as well as emergency practitioners and land and water use planners. Regarding both aims, the Lorca case study plans to investigate the potential benefits for strengthening and increased utilization of the socio-cultural networks and also focuses on better understanding of the dynamic nature of socio-cultural networks, making it useful in the different phases of DRR.

Introduction to Lorca and information flow during flash flood extreme events

The case study will take place over an area covering the administrative boundaries (see figure 6) of two municipalities: Lorca (91,759 inhabitants, as of 2014) and Puerto Lumbreras (14,742; as of 2012). For practical issues, hereon we will refer to the case study as Lorca case study. Settlements in Lorca have been identified coming from 5,000 years ago. It was a Roman city and even gained importance during the Middle Ages, first under Muslim occupation and later as a defence frontier between Christians and Muslims. Thus, it possesses a valuable historic heritage, with Lorca castle arising as the most notable landmark.

Figure. Location of the cities of Lorca and Puerto Lumbreras within Murcia region in South-East Spain

Lorca is the third city within Murcia region and the main one in the shire of Alto Guadalentín, a large valley which has turned into one of the most important agricultural areas in Spain. Paradoxically, the area characterises by a semi-arid climate. Indeed, the Guadalentín river was named after the Arabic words “mud river”. In fact, agriculture heavily depends on groundwater abstractions and water diverted from the neighbour Tagus river basin. The livestock sector is also very relevant in this area, in particular pig breeding.

The area has historically suffered serious disaster episodes. A major one was the flooding of town in 1802 as a consequence of the collapse of the walls of the main water reservoir of the city, with casualties estimated at over 700 people. The area also has historically faced recurrent droughts, even forcing massive migration episodes due to famine. More recently, on May 2011, the town was struck and seriously damaged by an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.1o in Richter scale, with an epicentre so close to the surface that made it equivalent to an 8o normal earthquake, which killed 9 people.

A very relevant issue regarding EDUCEN is social structure of the population. In the past 15 years, the area has experienced a very significant population growth, mainly because of immigration of rural workers mainly coming from Morocco and Ecuador. In addition the population of European retired people, who come to live to the area after retirement attracted by the nice weather and lifestyle, has become significant. The foreign population is estimated as a 20% of total, with a strong bias of male population (the male population is a 50% higher than female).

Lorca area is affected by large climatic contrasts: it suffers frequent droughts, but also torrential rains which provoke recurrent floods; very high temperatures happen along the summer and heavy frosts are usual in winter.

In example, the study area -i.e. administrative municipalities of Lorca and Puerto Lumbreras- has been recently affected by several disaster events, which constitute a relevant sample of the high exposure of this region to catastrophes:

  • In 2011, it was struck by one of the most intense earthquakes produced in Spain in the last decades
  • In 2012, an especially intense flash flood episode happened which also caused flooding in some areas for several weeks
  • In 2015, recurrent heat waves hit the area, favouring a forest fire episode which affected low-density populated areas.

The most adequate example to show the rationale of the case study can be the flash flood episode, in particular because of most direct involvement of SEGURA and its value to depict the importance of prompt and effective communication in these episodes.

As shown by the graph of water flow in Nogalte wadi, a tributary to Guadalentín river, and the tow images of figure 7, in less than 20 minutes and due to an extreme event of heavy rain, the situation changed from an dry riverbed to a wide and fast-flowing river.

Figure. Flash-flood episode in Puerto Lumbreras (September 2012)

A very illustrative video showing the effects of this combined episode of flash flood and local heavy rain can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoNT9WmSfxg

Some lessons were learnt after the internal analysis of this episode:

  1. There is a need to formulate an action protocol between the river basin Authority and local authorities to improve communication in these crisis events in order to bring together in a more efficient manner all parties working on the same issues with a common goal: DRR. Existing protocols can be improved by better definition of ways to approach and communicate with local stakeholders and population concerning warnings, alarms and specific measures. One of the lessons extracted was that the river basin Authority is not adequately involved in emergency planning and management even though this organization produces and holds very valuable information. For example, the Segura river basin Authority manages a system – named SAIH- that takes real time data about rainfall and flows, but this information is not shared in real time.
  2. Immigrants and foreigner tourists were much more affected by the floods. This evidence shows the room for making use of formal/informal networks for an improved flow of information in these or other minority groups. An increased role of soft infrastructure is definitely required for a better preparedness and management of these catastrophes.

Milan case study

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Milan and methods organisational cultures for safety in mega events and

The overall purpose of the Milan Expo case study is to understand the potential effects of cultural differences in disaster response regarding disruptions in infrastructural systems.

The overall purpose of the Milan Expo case study is to have a clear understanding of the role of organizations in relation to the technical systems they operate and the reaction of users coming from different cultures to any kind of disruption in the system.

The most specific objectives were monitoring the potential disruption during the event through newspapers and social media; understanding better how the multi-organizational culture has been formed; Collecting information about the structural development in the area due to EXPO; Collecting information about the changing risk landscape as a result of increasing exposure; Collecting information about ways to increase the effectiveness of those who respond to disasters and Providing guidelines that can be used in different localities

Introduction to Milan and organizational cultures in mega events case study

The Milan case study will be conducted within the administrative borders of Milan Province. Milan is located in the Northern Italy, in the Lombardy Region (Figure 8). Milan is the second largest city in Italy, with more than 1.3 million inhabitants within the city borders, and more than 3 million inhabitants within the Milan Province (2014 ISTAT data) (Table 7). The city is well connected with its region. Lombardy region’s population is around 10 million inhabitants, distributed over an area of approximately 24,000 square kilometres. Regarding its dimension, economic importance, cultural level and political influence the Milan Province is in the center of the Italian economy. The major assets of Milan’s economy are fashion, architecture, culture and media. (Source: In Compass, Interreg Project EU).

The Milan Province is prone to hydro-meteorological and technological (industrial) disaster risks.

The changes in the population number.

Source: Municipality of Milan – ISTAT data the day 31st of every year.

(*) After census

According to the Istat census data, the city is not growing naturally, migration is the reason for the increasing population. On January 1st, 2015 the number of people with a foreign nationality was 248,304 (Table 8). The city is attracting people, both from other Italian cities and other nations. The cultural heterogeneity of the city and its province makes it an interesting case study for EDUCEN.

Table. The population trend with foreign nationality

Source: Municipality of Milan – ISTAT data 1st January 2015

(*) After census

Mega-events are tools for marketing cities to become globally significant and attract national and international interest from all over the world. Mega-events are also engines for the structural and infrastructural development of cities, as economic resources gained by Mega-events are used to activate urban development (Steffani, 2011). To obtain a mega-event, a well-maintained infrastructure system is a must. However, having good quality infrastructure is not sufficient for being a part of this worldwide competition and hosting a mega-event. Providing resilience against disruption to infrastructure and services is strongly necessary to ensure the competitive advantage of cities, as well as safety and security of infrastructures.

Milan hosted EXPO 2015 since May 2015 until the end of October 2015. However, hosting a mega-event brings a major challenge to meet resilience targets. That is, the increased exposure of the population, including both inhabitants of the city and tourists/visitors coming to the event. That tremendous increase of exposed population from different cultures does not necessarily add new risks, but concentrate the current risks in cities in one place. Therefore disaster risk reduction considering the cultural diversities must be a part of the investment to increase the resilience of the infrastructural systems. Besides, there are the other issues such as the new risk landscape, including terrorism, traffic jam and changing hazard conditions that increase the vulnerability of cities, and the multiple interaction pattern of infrastructure systems. The latter occurs between the three layers existing in the city: spatial, organizational (public institutions or private, depending on the owner of the infrastructure system) and social (the users of the system).

The location of 2015 Milan Expo Site
2015 Milan Expo Map

The approach adopted by Milan Expo case study will be mutual learning by observing the changing risk landscape, and having meetings with the related actors. The focus of the study will be on the changing social and spatial structure of the study area, and how those changes affect crisis situations.

Umbria case study

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Umbria and methods to manage post- flood damage data

The main objective of the work carried out in the Umbria case study has been the joint development of tools and methods to collect, store, structure post-flood damage data and then analyze such data in order to obtain a comprehensive representation of the damage, including as far as possible also indication regarding indirect damage. Such analysis should be provided in the form of reports developed according the multiple possible uses of the data as suggested by De Groeve et al. (2013).

The effort in the Umbria case study comprises the development of a procedure in order to:

  • Help the Regional Civil Protection to collect data from different sources, including critical service providers (lifelines managers that can be either public, private or semi-private companies) and other offices of the Regional Government, damage and losses data;
  • Include the direct survey forms into a procedure;
  • Share the results with regional officers and professional volunteers

Introduction to Umbria: a region vulnerable to floods

The Umbria region is located in the Central Italy. Perugia and Terni are the two provinces of the Umbria Region. The Tiber’s river three principal tributaries flow southward through Umbria. According to the 2011 survey (ISTAT) there are 883,000 inhabitants. In the survey in 2008 ISTAT estimated that 75,631 were foreign-born immigrants that live in Umbria, which is equal to 8.5% of the total population of the region in 2008. In the Umbria Region there is a University to teach Italian language and culture to foreigners. The cities in Umbria are in part of the historical cultural heritage of Italy. The economy of Umbria depends on the small and medium sized firms starting from the 1970s. Tobacco, olive oil and wines are the major products of the Umbria region.

Location of Umbria. Source: maphill.com
Recent flood in Umbria

The Umbria case study stresses the cultural differences among several organizations and its effect on crisis management. Organizations have cultural differences in terms of management and methodologies used. The tests within this case study suggest that data collected after flood events do not permit satisfactory damage function validation, due to inconsistencies and mismatched methodologies in acquiring relevant data about hazards, vulnerability of exposed items and systems, and damage. This experience led to the recognition that a stronger effort should be put into improved flood damage data collection after flood events. However, the Region being the main user and promoter of such enterprise, meant that new damage procedures could not be developed and applied just for the sake of better data. There was also a need to support loss accounting to compensate private citizens and for public facility repairs on the one hand and to provide guidance for recovery and reconstruction on the basis of “forensics” purposes on the other.

Volos case study

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Volos and tools and methods for cultural memory to learn from the past for DRR policy

In Volos, the huge wave of refugees from Asia Minor after 1922, the 1955 devastating earthquake disaster and the current social and economic crisis in Greece all shaped cultural memory of the city. Old and new crises provide a basis for exploring the culture and disaster nexus, identifying worthwhile cultural assets and informing crisis management.

Thus, the main focus of the approach adopted for the pilot activities in Volos CS is on the nexus between disaster preparedness and shocks (new and old) in society and culture. This approach is aimed to be supported by the conceptual Work Package on Cultural Memory which promotes the learning from past experiences as a requirement and pre-condition to learn in the present.

The key final goal is to use cultural memory as a mean of awareness raising and better preparedness for critical events.

Introduction to Volos: memories and cultural assets in DRR

Volos is a coastal port city in Thessaly region situated midway on the Greek mainland. The urban area counts for 150,009 inhabitants (as for 2015) and covers 496.6 km2.

Volos has been a significant industrial centre and is also the only outlet of Thessaly (the country’s largest agricultural region) to the sea. The effect of its economic situation on disaster risk reduction and the effect on vulnerable groups will be put at the core of EDUCEN activities in the Volos case study. After the mid-80s deindustrialization started and the current economic crisis has significantly deteriorated the situation. Presently, the area experiences one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

According to recent unemployment data (May 2015) from the Manpower Employment Organization, there are 18,783 registered unemployed persons. According to Employment Observatory, unemployment in the age range 24-45 is about 45% (2014). Official data at Prefecture level indicate an unemployment rate in Magnesia of 33.3% in 2012 (the highest in the country). Unofficial data estimates a rise in the unemployment rate to 40%, with higher rates for the young and women. Also indicators on local Gross National Product, industrial production, savings and retail keep deteriorating.

These issues directly relate to main the social structures existing in Volos.

Besides, the city has undergone the shock of integrating a huge number of refugees from Turkey 90 years ago (13,773 according to data). Although there was a need for workers especially in the industry, the integration of this new Greek population was not smooth. They were housed in barracks in a shanty town which was destroyed by a fire in 1930. Little by little the Turkish refugees moved towards the part of the city where is Nea Ionia today. These refugee communities still maintain an identity as a social group.

In terms of main hazards, the area suffers relevant risks to earthquake and floods catastrophes. For example, in the period 1954-1957, severe earthquakes ruined much of the city and in addition these episodes were followed by flash floods.

The development of Volos into the city it is today has been based on crises and disasters. A rough analysis of Volos urban structure reveals the strong effect of both the gradual integration of Greek immigrants from the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1922 and the earthquake disaster of 1954.

As a key example, the history of founding of the area of the neighbour municipality of Nea Ionia is directly linked to the arrival of 1,300,000 refugees in Greece after the “Asia Minor catastrophe” and the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey at 1923. After the formation of the new settlement by refugees, the area was named Nea Ionia, after Ionia in Asia Minor, their original homeland.

Municipalities of Volos and Nea Ionia

Natural catastrophes have also have seriously stricken Volos throughout the XX century in the form of earthquakes and flash floods. These episodes also had serious impacts on the urban structure. For example, after the 1954-57 earthquakes the old urban tissue was wiped out and the reconstruction fully taken up by the Army promoted the construction of standardized new buildings.

Therefore, the Volos Case Study allows a narrow analysis of the role of cultural memory into: i) the mapping of social groups in space and time and the perception of disaster risk for different cultural groups, including vulnerable groups, and ii) disaster planning in terms of urban and structural vulnerability of the city.

Cultural memory refers to the recording and handing down meanings and interpretation from generation to generation. The consideration of cultural memory as an asset in DRR focus on the identification of how to identify and use accumulated experience and knowledge from past crises and disasters to inform and enhance present and future DRR and DRM. Therefore, the aim of the pilot activities of Volos Case Study is to highlight memory/ies and local knowledge of how society handled crises in the past and disaster of what “worked well” and what did not work in past disasters and if/how this can be of benefit for DRR today.

The basis of the study will be mainly the built environment, which performs vital cultural, housing and infrastructural and economic functions. The structure of these areas is linked with time-honed practices of city dwellers. Poor maintenance and demolition impairs the protection function, and thus, the dynamic preservation of this environment coupled with an improved knowledge of cultural memory on risk has a key role to play in disaster planning.

A current debate in terms of urban planning pivots around the enhancement of safety and renewal of the old urban tissue –now significantly populated by immigrants- versus actions dealing with preservation and mild interventions of the building stock.

Replication loops for adopting tools and methods to incorporate culture as an asset in DRR

One of the main aims in developing tools and methods that are supported by knowledge on how to use culture as an asset has been to facilitate - and in many ways test - that these tools and methods are replicable and re-usable for other cities and contexts. Therefore a replication methodology has been developed to facilitate the transfer of knowledge embedded in the tools and methods, and the lessons drawn from their application to real cases.

The method relies on the implementation of pilot activities in different contexts in a cycle of replication loops, aiming to achieve the transferability of methodologies and procedures developed for the adoption by other cities.

The methodology has considered three replication loops for each activity, and the jump from one replication loop into the following loop involves a larger type of interaction, and the transferability of pilot activities undertaken within the case studies.

Diagram: Replication loops to adapt tools and methods to adopt culture as an asset in DRR

EDUCEN has succeeded in replicating a number of tools and methods in different ways to take into account the correct adaptation to a different local context. A sequential approach has been adopted:

  • In the second internal replication loop, a single method previously proven in a frontrunner city (first loop) was replicated in another city (Lorca, Dordrecht and London).
  • In the third external replication loop, the tools and methods approach was replicated as an integrated process in another city (Valladolid) external to the initial case studies.

Transferability Framework: loops methodological frame

In the method developed for replication, the process starts with the identification of a series of “pilot” activities. These activities can be identified and developed in two ways: first, as emerging from the city based on local identified needs to address the specific requirements coming from the community of stakeholders (bottom up), and thus developed by the city itself; or second, based on matching local needs to the tools and methods developed to adopt culture as an asset. For example tools and methods to incorporate cultural aspects like cultural memory; cultural networks; mutual learning; hard and soft infrastructure; and cultural empathy- in the local cities Disaster Risk reduction policies (top down).

Table: Loops, tools and transferability between cities

LOOP CITY Pilot Activity/Tool Transferability Further potential transferability
1st LoopFRONTRUNNER CITIES Istanbul Integrate a Disabled awareness culture into DRR Within Turkey Spain; Greece
  L’Aquila SNAHard and Soft infrastructure Lorca Valladolid
  Milan Infrastructure and culture of safety and security in mega events London Zaragoza
  Volos Cultural memoryGames to raise awareness on DRR Dordrecht Valladolid
2nd LoopREPLICATOR CITIES Lorca SNARole of social media (bottom up method)App for risk awareness Valladolid -
  Dordrecht(1) Cultural memory - -
  London culture of safety and security in mega events - -
3rd LoopREPLICATOR CITIES (integrated Matrushka approach) Valladolid Cultural memory + SNA+ Games Other cities in Duero basin  

First Replication loop: design of tools and methods (and pilot activities) for culture as an asset in DRR

This first loop to develop pilot activities on tools and methods for culture as an asset in all cases require a level of involvement by those responsible for DRR and eventually by the local community of stakeholders, organised and monitored by an organisation acting as activity leaders (in our case the case study leaders which ranged from a municipal company in Greece, a search and rescue organisation in Turkey, a river basin agency in Spain, a university in the cases of Milan or Umbria and a research centre in the case of L’Aquila. The case study leaders acted both as facilitators and pilot activity leaders.

In this first loop, the focus is self-learning on their own role, and mutual learning among the different actors and stakeholders in DRR such as responders, planners and vulnerable groups. In all cases the pilot activity leaders engaged directly with local stakeholders through meetings, workshops, interviews, as organized activities. Thus as is discussed in the section on the communities of practice, one of the main outcomes of this approach are the networks created as a result of these activities and which all had a different aspect of culture at its core. That is, in effect a local Community of Practice around Culture in DRR.

The methods and approach are based on a participatory strategy led by a local actor or a facilitator with the consent of key local actors, and stakeholders for the co-development of tools and methods for integrating culture into DRR. A result of the implementation of these pilot activities was the creation of these local cultural networks or “communities of practice”.

First Replication Loop

The first loop focuses on the definition of pilot activities in case studies. Throughout this replication loop, the tools and methods are developed, tested and evaluated for their suitability on the basis on the information and needs provided by city itself. The aim therefore is to co-develop together with city partners and the pilot activity leaders a series of tools and procedures for integration of culture into DRR.

Thus it is a city demand-led approach establishing links between the possible tools and methods for application to specific sites based on local needs and priorities, which helps to gradually build up a toolkit to be adapted, used and validated in a real environment. One of the lessons learnt is that a necessary condition for this match of tools and methods to city needs (demand) has to be flexible, i.e. an “adapt to adopt approach”, which adjusts and tailors the methods to the specific needs and context of the city. Therefore, the choice on the pilot activities to be adopted from the Toolkit lies with the city, who is best placed to identify the relevance of the tools and methods, and the added value and impact that each activity provides after its application. This element of evaluation of local relevance (a reflexive part) is key element for the adoption of tools and methods that can help a city integrate culture as an asset. In other words since culture itself is heavily grounded on contextual realities, any tools and methods to use culture as an asset have to be culturally relevant and informed by the local context.

Table 1. Pilot activities and tools and methods

  CITY TOPIC TOOL AND METHOD DEVELOPER Case Study LEADER
Bottom Up Istanbul Disability awareness in DRR AKUT Search and Rescue organisation, AKUT
  Lorca Hazard awareness mapping for local people CHS River Basin Agency (Confederación Hidrográfica del Segura)
Top down L’Aquila Cultural networks – role of infrastructure (WP3) CNR-IRSA National Research Council, CNR-IRSA, Italy
  Milan Organisational culture of safety POLIMI Public University, Technical University of Milan, Italy
  Volos Cultural Memory NLDA Municipal company ANEVO, Greece

For example, one of the most adopted tools and methods was centred on games to help develop cultural empathy. A series of games were used by the different cities, in each case slightly adjusting the implementation to best suit the city needs.

Table: Cultural Empathy through Games

Game Location Target Group/Players
Zombie Game Dordrecht, Holland May 2015 Experts attending conference
  Wageningen, Holland, Nov 2016 Students in DRR
  Utrecht, Holland 2016 Students and experts in DRR
  Valladolid, Spain Dec. 2017 Civil Protection
Flood Game Lorca, Spain Oct 2015 First responders
Gift of Culture Stockholm, Nov. 2016 Academics and city experts
Flood resilience Game Valladolid, Dec. 2016 First responders, institutional actors and community groups
Cultural memory Game Dordrecht, March 2017 Experts and Academics
  Volos, April 2017 Local people

The second replication loop: “adapt to adopt” approach

In the second loop the focus is to transfer pilot activities to other cities after these activities have been tried and tested. A document was prepared on a common “Transfer Design and Assessment framework” to guide the transfer from the initial frontrunner city and its specific context to other adopting replicator city context(s). The framework included adapting the specific pilot activities with a direct involvement of the replicator city.

The aim was to have a “stand alone” set of transferable tools and procedures or broader methodological approaches that can be implemented in the third loop by other cities without much direct support. These tools and methods are integrated into Toolkit that as a key element in this Digital Handbook. This translates into ensuring that these tools and methods can be adopted by the wider community of practitioners with, or without, the involvement of the pilot activity leader. After this second replication loop, tools and methods become more easily transferable and thus more likely to be “off the shelf”. However as explained earlier tools and methods will always have to be adapted before they are adopted to suit the needs of the specific city since these tools and methods have to be culturally grounded.

Adapt to Adopt - the importance of context for successful replication of tools and methods

The “adapt to adopt” approach recognises the central importance of “context”, understood as the specific conditions for which the pilot activities for one specific tool or method are going to be carried out. By incorporating the reality of different contexts we acknowledge that these different contextual factors must be incorporated in the replication frame to be able to produce transferable outcomes. In all cases, all methods had to be adapted to take into account the specific context and conditions of the replicating city. An overarching lesson learnt is the necessary crucial involvement from stakeholders (particularly local authorities) in order to fine-tune the objectives and the elaboration - and if needed, adjustment- of the final materials to be replicated in the sequence: a) re-design, b) implementation, c) validation and d) lessons learnt/reflections. The differences in contexts have proven to be particularly dependent on the level of involvement from local authorities and stakeholders and also, different aims in terms of contributing to the elaboration of the final materials to be produced. Thus, context and local needs and demands are probably much more important than anticipated into ensuring the true value of methodologies, procedures and supporting materials e.g. guidelines or training modules.

The reality of the transferability within the second replication loop has been to learn that it is largely demand driven, i.e. the toolkit offers a series of tools, methods or approaches like a palette (i.e. the Toolkit), yet it is the city itself that then chooses those tools and methods that are more suitable to its particular needs, after a necessary process of adjustment and fine-tuning, also led by the replicating city. Furthermore, an interesting aspect learnt though this transferability process have been that the city itself often brings additional tools, methods or approaches the city wants to incorporate, i.e. a process of social innovation is thus

The city of Dordrecht has been one of case study cities hosting the final conference of the EDUCEN Project (March 2017).

Collaborative Workshop

A collaborative workshop was hosted in Dordrecht for both peers from other cities and thought and policy leaders. Participants at this workshop, peers from other cities, could take lessons learned as part of inter-cultural communities of practice, while thought and policy leaders can take procedures back to their own contexts where these can inform the strengthening of regional and international relationships.

The city of Dordrecht in a demand led approach -as described earlier - identified three of EDUCEN tools and methods as particularly relevant: the role of cultural memory, the use of Social Network Analysis, and the use of games to increase risk awareness and a culture of safety in vulnerable populations (in this case identified as the younger Dutch population).

As an example of a Second replication loop the city of Dordrecht also applied tools and methods on Cultural memory as had already been done for Volos.

Cultural Memory in Dordrecht

Hagen, S., Noeverman, K. Jansen, T. and Kelder, E. Dordrecht City Council; Helena de Jong, NLDA

In recent history Dordrecht has not experienced disasters. The last flooding of the embanked area occurred in 1953 which resulted in a large amount of damage. This same flood event resulted in a large disaster in the nearby province of Zeeland and some neighbouring municipalities. The worst flood disaster with the biggest impact in Dordrecht dates back to 1421. This disaster has had a major negative effect on the development of the city. Especially the 1953 disaster is well known in the Netherlands and included in history school books. In the night of 31 January 1953 a spring tide combined with a north-westerly storm caused dike breaks at over 900 locations in the South West of the Netherlands. 2000 km2 was flooded and 1835 people drowned. The effects of the flood were long-lasting, for the region but also for the country as a whole. Dordrecht only just escaped the disastrous effects of the Great Flood with the primary dike ring around the city remaining intact because the dike rings of the Hoeksche Waard and the Alblasserwaard broke and took the pressure away. The water however did enter the northern part of the city and caused severe damage to buildings and infrastructures. In the following weeks, Dordrecht functioned as a sanctuary for refugees from hard hit surrounding areas, sheltering victims in public buildings and inhabitants’ homes.

A second case where tools and methods have been replicated is the case of mega events to document organizational learning on emergency management during mega events. The tools and methods to document organisational culture and learning in mega events were implemented first for the Milan EXPO 2015 and then for the 2012 London Olympic Games. The first case was the city of Milan with the EXPO in 2015. The same interview protocol and methods were used to document learning for the 2012 London Olympics. The box below summarises the replication of this type of analysis for the case of London. This provided additional insights on emergencies and organizational learning during mega-events. One further advantage from the transferability within the second learning loop between city case studies was learning from these different cases and different contexts on a “culture of safety”. The focus on mega events was on providing a safe-secure and resilient infrastructure system for mega-events, and organizational learning.

An organisational culture of safety in mega events: the case of the 2012 London Olympics

written by Funda Atun, POLIMI

London 2012 Olympic Games are the most recent example in Europe with the same scale as the 2015 Milan Expo. We involved the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games as an example, also because, London 2012 Olympic Games were handled well politically, organizationally and structurally. Even after the event, the legacy still remains and the advantages are seen in social, structural and economic environments. London 2012 Olympic Games was the city used to replicate tools and methods on how to document an organizational culture on safety during mega events.

The objective and purpose of this tool is to understand the cultural differences and similarities between different organizations involved in safety and security planning before, during and after the mega event.

The method has three main parts:

  1. a literature and report analysis about the event.
  2. experts were chosen purposefully to represent three main areas: safety, security and resilience, with one representative for each section were some experts (and stakeholders) involved in the London Olympics. These experts were invited to a mega-event workshop in Milan (March 2016).
  3. in-depth interviews with open ended questions. A number of related the related organizations, were approached and interviewed, including the London Resilience Team, London Fire Brigade, London Metropolitan Police, London Borough of Tower Hamlet and London Borough of Newham and Transport for London (resilience team, London surface travel, London tube network) http://www.slideboom.com/presentations/1430183/Securing-the-London-Olimpics. With the people who agreed to be involved in the survey, we conducted in-depth interviews.

The third replication loop: “the Matrushka” approach

The third replication loop is important because it offers the potential, not only adapt the tools and methods to the adopting city, but also to integrate different tools and methods in a synergistic blend that incorporates the tools and methods from the “replicating city”.

One of the innovations in the third replication loop is the so called Matrushka approach. Here the different tools and methods are integrated and/or or slot together bringing a higher level of impact. This was the case of the replication loop for the city of Valladolid.

In the Matrushka approach rather than adopting a single tools or methods, the application of two or three methods are adapted and adopted simultaneously, providing enough flexibility to include tools and procedures (pilot activities) suggested by the replicating/replicating city to make a synergistic blend that can have a much deeper impact. These tools and methods act as lenses that look at different – yet complementary aspects- of integrating culture into DRR and developing a culture of safety and security based on the adoption, appropriation and modification of these tools and methods.

The Blind man, the elephant and cultural aspects in EDUCEN

One of the tools developed to understand the role of culture as an asset for DRR to understand the role of formal and informal networks through the use of Social Network Analysis developed by CNR-IRSA. It has been implemented three times; first as a pilot activity in the first loop for the case of the L’Aquila earthquake of 2009, then in a second replication loop for the 2012 Lorca flood in Spain, and then in a third replication loop to the city of Valladolid.

The replicability of a Social Network Analysis tool on the role of formal and informal networks into DRR (by Raffaele Giordano and Alessandro Pagano, IRSA, Italy)

The transferability of the SNA method to other cities has already been partially tested. Two other cities demonstrated interest in implementing the L’Aquila approach for the assessment of the effectiveness of the interaction network in the case of emergency. This section describes the lessons learned during the “experience transfer” process. The transferability of the methodology was successful overall. Specifically, the first transfer process involving the city of Lorca, which required a more direct involvement of the tool designers in the implementation of the methodology. The Lorca experience allowed to revise and adapt the protocol for the implementation of the methodology, to take into account the difficulties encountered during the first replication attempts. The following describes the main advice for the replication.

  1. One of the key issues concerns the capabilities of the analyst involved in the collection and structuring of the local knowledge to clearly discern between the actual emergency managers’ experiences and the official protocol of interaction.
  2. The implementation of the tool for analysis in the two replicating cases – i.e. Lorca and Valladolid – demonstrate that emergency managers are deeply grounded in their procedures that can therefore mix up experiences and procedures. This represents a critical bias for the analysis, because it impedes the modelling of the informal network activated during an emergency.

In order to reduce this bias, the analysis (and analyst) should be focused on a specific emergency management episode. Using a Critical Event Analysis as a starting point, as described in the SNA tools, is useful in the knowledge elicitation phase. Moreover, the analysis should focus on a relatively recent episode. The more distant in the time that the emergency episode, the more likely to suffer from the bias to mix actual emergency managers’ experiences and the official protocol of interaction as bias.

First Loop: Identification per cultural theme of methods, tools, procedures and best practices Second Loop: “Adapt to adopt” Transfer to City B Third Loop: Matrushka integrated approach to Transfer tools and methods to cities

Design of three Loop replication of tools: L’Aquila-Lorca-Valladolid

The EDUCEN Approach: culture as an asset in Valladolid (Spain)

The third replication loop undertaken in Valladolid was framed as an activity of the Duero basin authority and as part Flood Risk Management Plan of the Spanish part of the Duero River basin agency, approved by Royal Decree 18/2016, dated January 15, 2016. Specifically tools and methods developed were used a part of a measure with Code 15.03.01 in the Flood risk Plan, to establish or improve public awareness to prepare different social and economic agencies and agents for floods.

The activity took place in the Rondilla Civic Center, which is located in one of the neighbourhoods susceptible to floods in Valladolid, in accordance with the zoning made by the National System of Cartography of Flood Zones of the General Directorate of Water. All the agents involved in flood risk management, both at the level of institutional agents and citizen groups attended the event.

Attendants to the Flood awareness day using an integrated approach to culture as an asset

  • Duero river basin agency
  • Municipal Archive of Valladolid
  • Directorate General of Water Science
  • Museum of Valladolid
  • City Hall of Valladolid
  • Rescue and Rescue Association
  • Civil Protection at the State level
  • Association Friend of the Pisuerga river
  • Civil Protection, Junta de Castilla y León
  • Neighborhood Association Pilarica
  • Civil Protection
  • Newspaper El Norte de Castilla
  • Meteorological Service (AEMET) - Delegation in Valladolid

The main objectives of the event were:

  1. To allow the different actors involved and affected by risk and management of the floods to get to know each other, acting as a starting point to facilitate greater interaction and contact in the future.
  2. Acting as the first in a series of activities designed to increase the level of information and perception of flood risk developed by Duero river basin agency in accordance with the EU European Floods Directive.
  3. Present and validate the results of the Social Network Mapping exercise on the flow of information using methodologies developed within the framework of the EDUCEN project.
  4. Identify barriers and actions to improve communication and agree on “future purposes”. The day began with interventions and key message by the Water Commissioner and by the Project Leader, the Duero River basin agency, and by a representative from the General Water Directorate.

Some key messages:

  • You have to live with the flood instead of living against the flood
  • There is no risk without a human factor
  • Flood Risk Management is a shared responsibility

What did the social network mapping exercise show us?

Some key conclusions from the mapping of the actor network and critical information in the management of flood events were:

Table: What did the social network mapping exercise tell us?

Actors Information
Infra-utilization by local groups of information available Low generalized perception of risk at institutional and citizen level
Very vulnerable actors are disconnected: Need for greater anticipation in the advices of release of water from reservoirs
Limited means (personal and material) prevents the effectiveness of the preparation (Drills) and emergency (exhaustion) The SAIH information system in some cases is not updated or cannot be interpreted
Lack of awareness of responsibility for action by mayors in small municipalities Key information that should have a high degree of diffusion among the actors include: the Flood plan, hydrological information, action instructions and community alerts

Table: What barriers and actions are needed improve communication in flood management?

Barriers Drivers
Resistance to change and technological innovation Homogenize terminology
Difficulty in communicating with municipalities Bulletins that include an interpretation of the data to the parties
Lack of training in some agents Training courses in town halls
Insufficient citizen awareness Citizen information through social networks
Uncommunicative format of SAIH Meetings for review of protocols
Heterogeneity of alert nomenclature Increase of SAIH measurements in real time
Citizens’ responsibility to follow advice Know dates of regulation of reservoirs
Perception of 112 as health emergencies Sensitization and training for citizens
Too many alerts lead to confusion Plan to disseminate information to the press
Lack of a press department in CHD Establish synergies and support between groups
Lack of means Training workshops for agents involved
Insufficient adaptation and mastery of ICTs Awareness campaigns targeting different population groups
Population is aging and thus reticent to change  

Communities of Practice

One of the main aspects in the application of the tools and methods has been the gradual emergence of different communities of practice, which can provide a key element for mainstreaming culture as an asset to increase resilience in DRR. The case studies, as can be seen in the case study manuals have generated examples and support material, where the combined result (e.g. this handbook) can be disseminated to other potentially interested cities for their replication. The idea is that this handbook and material can support the creation of other communities of practice to integrate culture into DRR in interested cities. This will support disaster planners, trainers and responders to reflect on the cultural factor, developing procedures to document active and latent knowledge of practitioners and communities in relation to culture in disasters.

What we have witnessed has been the creation of Communities of Practice both inwards and outwards: i.e. as local communities of practice and as transnational (sometimes thematic) communities of practice that can incorporate different cities sharing common interests to strengthen the use of culture as an asset in DRR.

Collaboration and cross-learning between these multiple urban stakeholders – and the relevant institutional actors is therefore crucial. Therefore, one of the key actions was to help create, extend and strengthen Communities of Practice so that these actors better integrate culture into DRR in each participating city. This offers the support for disaster planners, trainers and responders to reflect on the cultural factor, developing procedures to document active and latent knowledge of practitioners and communities in relation to culture in disasters. These CoPs are the result of encouraging and facilitating the formation of living networks of experts on cultures in disasters encompassing community members and practitioners (communities of practice-CoP), drawn together by a common interest in understanding the role culture plays, in mitigating the risks of and accelerating recovery from disasters, i.e. the role of “Communities of Practice based on a well-developed theory for studying how people learn socially from their peers within communities of a certain practice”

Communities of practice

(extract from Using learning to harness social and organizational culture for disaster risk reduction (2016). Authors: Barquet, K; Boyland, M; Osbeck, M. and Thomalla, F.)

A community of practice refers to how people learn socially from their peers within communities focused on a particular activity. Definitions vary depending on the particular goals and fields of interest, but Wenger (1998) offers a general point of departure for understanding their importance: “Communities of practice develop around things that matter to people. As a result, their practices reflect members’ own understanding of what is important.” The community’s mission generally includes fostering interaction, identifying and sharing best practices, creating new knowledge, and fostering learning. Within disaster risk reduction, communities of practice have been defined as “temporary horizontal organization[s] with varying levels of formality whose primary mission is to identify and solve complex, institutionally cross-cutting problems and whose major characteristics are (Sarmiento et al. 2012, p.14):

  1. a task-focused existence
  2. flexible and evolving membership
  3. openness to a wide input array
  4. shifting loci of leadership
  5. democratic decision-making
  6. autonomous funding, within a continuous learning environment”

As these communities are often seen as horizontal, self-organizing and spontaneously emerging groups, they may be perceived as incompatible and even competitive to established hierarchical organizations. It is here where organizations play an important role in facilitating and fostering their establishment by acting as conveners rather than knowledge providers (Wenger and Snyder 2000).

Communities of practice within DRR may have several functions, but knowledge management is an integral one. While there are several ways to explore knowledge management, Kimble et al. (2000) propose dividing knowledge into “hard” and “soft”. The former is formalized and structured and can be captured, codified and stored. The latter can be classified as socially constructed knowledge generated by social activity, and internalized domain knowledge, which is linked to skills, expertise and proficiency. Through communities of practice, hard knowledge is used and made available, and at the same time, knowledge management is addressed and transformed into experience (Sarmiento et al. 2012)

The formation of living networks of experts on cultures in disasters encompassing community members and practitioners (communities of practice-CoP) have drawn together with a common interest in understanding the role culture plays, in mitigating the risks of and accelerating recovery from disasters. These local CoPs form a “Culture in Disasters” nascent network. The collaborative procedure required building the sorts of cross-cultural linkages that are necessary for the formation of inter-cultural communities of practice. This made the collaborative procedural work a valuable objective in itself.

Local communities in practice in the EDUCEN case study cities

Over the last two years a series of workshops were held in the case study cities to help build capacity in the recognition of culture (and use of cultural assets) in disaster response. We have seen how active local communities of practice can help a shift understandings and practices on all actors involved.

In our workshops the aim was to invite policy makers, urban planners, and risk management actors, NGOs, civil society groups to facilitate collaboration and learning between these groups, approaching culture as an opportunity. This meant the incorporation of different values, assumptions, “language” and terminology the different communities of practice have, by incorporating empirical and tacit knowledge. The box summarises the kind of target actors to be included and below these are exemplified with the real examples from the CoPs from our case studies.

Steps on How to facilitate the emergence of a local Community of practice on culture and disasters

The first step is to map those organizations and stakeholders groups with direct responsibilities on DRR, or which could be further benefitted from successful involvement into a network to consider culture as an asset for DRR. Below we have listed the “typology of target groups” to be considered for inclusion in a local CoP. The second step is the process, as a way of “learning by doing”, how these communities of practice emerge from an approach that is sensitive and open to use and/or develop and implement cultural sensitive strategies, specific measures and tools.

  • Target: the first responders with the objective of securing a higher impact by targeting operational users. The goal for this level is to promote involvement into culture as an asset Communities of Practice network. Civil Protection authorities, with competences in urban areas. River Basin Authorities, in cities which may be severely affected by floods are examples of this type of stakeholders.
  • Target: other beneficiaries: urban communities and particularly vulnerable groups, researchers and generic policy makers or urban planners. Here, our focus is on increasing understanding and promoting a wider dialogue. Prioritise representatives of cities and municipalities with significant risk to natural catastrophes and with competences in DRR planning.
  • Target: the General public, which may get informed about pilot activities, tools and methods in line with the aim of raising awareness around the potential of culture as a basis for a better disaster preparedness. Groups of stakeholders representing one sub-culture in cities in particular vulnerable groups (e.g. migrants, inclusively oriented DRR) at local, regional or even national scale, and NGOs/voluntary organizations involved in disaster preparedness and response.
  • Target: tap into experts like those active in museums, local universities, archives and the academic community of practice engaged on mainstreaming culture into DRR and research in this area, particularly from the perspective of the science-policy interface. For this purpose the idea is to develop a follow up academic book on the topic. Second, policy makers operating at different levels (including the European Commission Community of users on security. More about it here.

One of the outcomes has been to link actors active in DRR previously not working together into de facto Communities of Practice. Here an important role is the identification of a champion end users to help sustain dissemination, networking and learning beyond the project. A main lesson drawn has been the importance of and potential for co-development and testing of a series of tools and procedures for integrating of culture into DRR. This co-design and collaboration meant that the application was relevant to stakeholder priorities and that stakeholders were engaged through a series of workshops built around policy exercises so that the products that make up the final multimedia Handbook are useful and relevant. This process of collaboration and co-design had two outcomes: first, the knowledge itself generated from the design and application of the tool, and second, the process itself which led to the creation of a CoP, an intangible result by itself. Thus a lesson learnt is the potential to build strong local Communities of Users at city level. This local Community of Users come with an important added value that we had not identified from the outset but which became obvious once the city meetings and activities were underway: the different stakeholders and end users themselves can tap into their own networks thus helping to be “agents” or “diffusers” of EDUCEN´s tools and methods, i.e. a process of social innovation. These local CoPs together form a “Culture in Disasters” network that has helped in the preparation and delivery of the local case study manuals. These local CoPs will together form a “Culture in Disasters” network have supported the preparation and delivery of both local digital manuals as well as this Handbook through the testing of the training modules, toolkit and methods, so that these can be adapted and adopted by other cities.

Example of Communities of Practice in case study cities

L’Aquila, Italy

Local Emergency Manager, National emergency management, Technical Municipal office , Regional Civil Protection agency, National Civil Protection agency, Local Red Cross team, External Red Cross teams (coordinators and operators), Local Fire Brigade team , External Fire Brigade teams (coordinators and operators), Local Police team, External Police teams (coordinators and operators), Members of the community, Representative of the community, Representative of the media.

Milan, Italy:

Police Headquarters; Carabineers; Italian Finance Police; State Forestry Corps; State Fire-Brigade Service; Red Cross Italy; Army; Aeronautic Army, Health, social support, veterinary: Lombardy Region D.G. health; Lombardy Region AREU, AAT-118; Lombardy Region ASL Milano 1; Lombardy Region Milano

Region of Umbria, Italy:

Regional Civil Protection Authority, The Emergency Control Centre of the Regional Civil Protection Authority; Civil Protection Authority offices in charge of data management; Researchers of the Politecnico di Milano; Civil Protection volunteers (thirty volunteers) with professional expertise in geology, engineering, architecture

Istanbul, Turkey:

İED İşitme Engelliler ve Aileleri (People With Auditory Disabilities and Their Families) Association, Altı Nokta Körler Derneği İstanbul Şubesi (Six Black Dots Blinds’ Association Istanbul Branch), Engelsiz Erişim Derneği (Access Wihout Barriers) Association, TSD Türkiye Sakatlar Derneği (The Handicapped Association of Turkey), TOFD Türkiye Omurilik Felçlileri Derneği (The Spinal Cord Paralytics Association of Turkey), SEBEDER Sesli Betimleme Derneği (Association for Vocal Description)

Volos, Greece:

Metropolitan Region of Attica, the Region of Thessaloniki, Decentralized Administration of Central Macedonia, Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization of Greece, Direction of Recovery from Natural Disaster , Impacts of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Region of Magnesia, Office of Civil Protection of Volos Municipality, Civil Protection of Pelion Municipality

Lorca, Spain:

Townhall of Lorca (Ayuntamiento de Lorca), Regional government of Murcia región (Comunidad Autónoma de Murcia), Water Directorate, Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, fisheries and environment (Dirección General del Agua del Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente), Segura River Basin Agency (Confederación Hidrográfica del Segura), Civil Protection (Protección Civil) at national, regional and local level, Spanish meteorological service (Agencia Española de Meteorología - AEMET), Flood affected neighbohood groups (Asociacion de vecinos); local newspapers.

Valladolid, Spain:

Duero River Basin agency (Confederación Hidrográfica del Duero), Municipal archive (Archivo Municipal de Valladolid), Water Directorate, Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, fisheries and environment (Dirección General del Agua del Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente), City Science Museum (Museo de la Ciencia de Valladolid), City of Valladolid (Ayuntamiento de Valladolid), Search and Rescue Service (Asociación de Rescate y Salvamento), Civil Protection (Protección Civil) at national, regional and local level, Friends of the Pisuerga river (Asociación Amigos del Pisuerga), Regional government of Castilla and león (Junta de Castilla y León), Neighborhood association of La Pilarica (Asociación de Vecinos Pilarica, Protección Civil), Newspaper North Of Castilla (Periódico El Norte de Castilla), Spanish meteorological service- Valladolid branch (Delegación en Valladolid de AEMET)

Transnational communities of practice

Another important element of the communities of practice has been the potential to develop transnational community of users. These are more difficult due mainly to language barriers and resource constraints. However, the potential to explore thematic Community of Users based on key emerging themes could offer great potential for speeding up social innovation and mutual learning.

One of the consequences of the Workshops held have been that in workshops organised around specific themes like Volunteers, Leaders/gatekeepers and Increasing awareness, around Climate security and DRR or around Disability inclusive disaster policies. We could see emerging CoUs around e.g. the volunteer groups attending, the media and the public authorities, as well as cross learning with e.g. Swedish public authorities talking to Spanish digital volunteers or Italian red cross engaging with the Spanish regional civil protection.

Cross city learning between Lorca and (Spain) Kristianstad (Sweden)

Another aspect has been upscaling of local Communities of practice. As mentioned earlier, one of the emerging characteristics has been the gradual development of Local Communities of Users and the realisation that this in effect is a network within other networks. Thus in some cases these local CoUs have started to open the door to upscaling and replicating methods to other scales. In the workshop held in Volos on July 2016, one of the main successes of the event was the capacity of the organiser to draw on not just local actors but also regional and national level stakeholders. Equally, in the case of Istanbul, although the application started with the megacity of Istanbul, the CS leader is a national organisation thus the materials developed are intended to be adopted to be implemented at national scale. The Umbria case study was different from the onset since it did not focus on a city but rather on a regional scale. Here events during the summer of 2016 had added a level of complexity where the methods and tools developed e.g. on data are providing support in the recovery phase for DRR. This was clearly seen in two cases: Volos (see Box) and Lorca in October 2015, in October 2016 and in April 2017.

Volos community of Users as Diffusers of Innovation: Local- regional- National

Round table discussion of experts about the relationship between cultural memory and disaster management in Greece Metaxourgio, Volos on July 7, 2016 a number of topics were discussed and analysed, namely, a) the relationships between culture and disaster management at the national and local level. Experiences and examples, b) Cultural memory of past critical events and its use for civil protection and disaster management. Experiences, examples and proposals for better employment of cultural memory in disaster and crisis management and c) Proposals on how tools and methods developed could become more useful and usable for civil protection and disaster management.