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Institutional Capacity for Natural Disasters: Findings from Case Studies in Africa

Bussell, Jennifer. Institutional Capacity for Natural Disasters: Findings from Case Studies in Africa, 2013, Climate Change and African Political Stability program Research Brief #10.


CCAPS research has aimed to document natural disaster response capacities in Africa and explore what drives government investment in disaster preparedness and response. The research shows that the two clearest predictors of investment in preparedness activities are economic strength and perceived risk of natural threats. However, these factors explain little when there is limited electoral incentive to invest in disaster management or minimal bureaucratic capacity to implement preparedness programs. Electoral conditions and political development affect whether governments have the incentive to invest in preparedness activities and the institutional capability to do so. In addition, domestic civil society and external actors often offer important support to governments, and it is the explicit focus by these nonstate actors on both preparedness and response that seems to limit the risk that international funding for disaster preparedness would reduce domestic spending on that goal in the majority of cases considered here. These findings have important implications for understanding the relationship between national governments and international aid agencies. Both domestic and international actors need to know what characteristics of states must be supported to encourage the development of vulnerability-reducing institutions in the face of dynamic natural hazards. This study attempts to shed new light on these issues and to inform debates over the most appropriate and efficient uses of aid and national resources for addressing natural shocks.

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