Harnessing a Community for Sustainable Disaster Response and Recovery

An Operational Model for Integrating Nongovernmental Organizations

Published in: Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, v. 7, no. 4, Aug. 2013, p. 361-368

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2013

by Joie D. Acosta, Anita Chandra

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OBJECTIVE: Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are important to a community during times of disaster and routine operations. However, their effectiveness is reduced without an operational framework that integrates response and recovery efforts. Without integration, coordination among NGOs is challenging and use of government resources is inefficient. We developed an operational model to specify NGO roles and responsibilities before, during, and after a disaster. METHODS: We conducted an analysis of peer-reviewed literature, relevant policy, and federal guidance to characterize the capabilities of NGOs, contextual factors that determine their involvement in disaster operations, and key services they provide during disaster response and recovery. We also identified research questions that should be prioritized to improve coordination and communication between NGOs and government. RESULTS: Our review showed that federal policy stresses the importance of partnerships between NGOs and government agencies and among other NGOs. Such partnerships can build deep local networks and broad systems that reach from local communities to the federal government. Understanding what capacities NGOs need and what factors influence their ability to perform during a disaster informs an operational model that could optimize NGO performance. CONCLUSIONS: Although the operational model needs to be applied and tested in community planning and disaster response, it holds promise as a unifying framework across new national preparedness and recovery policy, and provides structure to community planning, resource allocation, and metrics on which to evaluate NGO disaster involvement.

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