Institutional Vulnerability and Governance of Disaster Risk Reduction: Macro, Meso and Micro Scale Assessment (With Case Studies from Indonesia)

Jonatan A. Lassa



This PhD research addresses two central questions: How should institutional vulnerability that shapes disaster risks and disaster reduction policy be assessed? How does the quality of institutions and governance influence the level of disaster risk and disaster reduction policy? In this dissertation, institutional vulnerability at global and local levels is analyzed and an answer to such questions is pursued.

General vulnerability assessment frameworks on the global scale and local scale have limitations in measuring how and to what extent institutions in all countries can reduce risks. This PhD dissertation is pioneering in that it assesses global institutional vulnerability using an index-based approach on a national/local scale by employing mixed methods such as social network analysis complemented by qualitative approaches (e.g. participant observation and literature reviews) and quantitative approaches (simple regression, scatter plots and simple descriptive statistics). In this dissertation, it is hypothesized that the countries with greater institutional quality tend to have better governance over disaster risks, which leads to a higher level of disaster risk resilience.

Risk assessors have often overlooked institutions. In fact, when one assesses vulnerability, for example, social/human vulnerability (such as using health, education, human development indices), physical vulnerability (quality of physical housing and infrastructure), economic vulnerability (income, economic production), and environmental vulnerability (land degradation, environmental quality indicators), the assessor essentially measures the “outcomes” of the institutions rather than the institutions directly.

Institutional vulnerability to disaster risk is defined here as both the context and the process by which formal institutions (regulations, rule of law, constitutions, codes, bureaucracy, etc.), informal institutions (culture, norms, traditions, etc.), and governance are either too weak to provide protection against disaster risk or are ignorant of their duty to provide safety and human security. Central to this argument is the concept that institutions are designed, among others, to reduce risks. In this research, the focus is on disaster risks. This suggests a hypothesis that nations will fail to reduce risks owing to institutional and governance factors that modify their vulnerabilities and resilience.

The findings show that both qualitative and quantitative methods at different scales of governance can assess institutional vulnerability and the governance of disaster risk reduction. At a global level, a quantitative approach to measuring institutional quality and governance disaster risk reduction is possible thanks to recent global data on countries’ implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action; however, more efforts are required in the future. At the meso- and microlevels, this work describes the history of institutions for disaster risk management in Indonesia from the colonial period until the present challenges of decentralized governance. The main message is as follows: without considering institutions, institutional quality, and specific governance of disaster reduction at macro-, meso-. and microscales, disaster risk reduction will not be sustainably implemented.

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© Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn | Published: 14.07.2011