Accepted paper:

When conflict meets disaster; DRR governance as public service provision in conflict settings


Dorothea Hilhorst (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Isabelle Desportes (EUR University Rotterdam)
Samantha Melis (International Institute of Social Studies)
Rod Mena (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Roanne van Voorst (ISS)

Paper short abstract:

This article argues for disaster response to be seen as public service provision and explores the intricacies of multi-actor governance of DRR in three different conflict settings; high-intensity conflict South Sudan, low-intensity conflict Ethiopia and post-conflict Sierra Leone.

Paper long abstract:

While disaster response is often not subsumed under the heading of public service but humanitarian aid, this article maintains that DRR and disaster response should increasingly be seen as a public service where the state has the responsibility to deliver protection against natural hazards. In the last decades, African governments have increasingly taken up this responsibility. In a great number of cases, disasters happen under conditions of conflict. Every year, there are some 400 disasters triggered by natural hazards, mostly in lower and middle-income countries. A large number of these strike in countries affected by conflict; 30% of the worst disasters occurring 1995-2004 coincided with conflict. This complicates disaster response and throws up many questions of who is responsible and how the response is governed. This article discusses three case-studies where disasters meet a different scenario of conflict-affected areas. The first case deals with the 2016 drought in South Sudan, where the effects were aggravated and the response was extremely affected by high-intensity conflict. The second concerns Ethiopia, where a 2016 low-intensity conflict and state of emergency politicized disaster response in many ways. Finally, the paper discusses the state-led response to the 2017 mudslide in post-conflict Sierra Leone. For each of the cases, the paper explores how the events unfolding around the disaster were governed, as an interplay of international actors, with differentiated state and civil society actors, and how this articulated with - and perhaps influenced - ongoing debates and changes on governance.

panel Econ31
Continuity and disruption in public service provision