Handbook of Disaster & Emergency Policies & Institutions from J Handmer & S Dovers

Title: Handbook of Disaster & Emergency Policies & Institutions
Author: J Handmer & S Dovers
Publisher: EARTHSCAN, LONDON
ISBN No.: 978-1-84407-359-7
Year of Publication: 2007
Website: http://www.earthscan.co.uk

I, unusually, chose to include a review of a disaster management handbook because so many of the organisations I work with give disaster management to SHE Managers. These individuals often focus upon the implementation of the plans rather than stepping back and thinking on the policy component. This book satisfied my requirements and clearly spelled out how important policies are and how to best use them in a practical manner.

The book is organised into three parts entitled:- Constructing the problem; Constructing the response, and Constructing the future. Part one reviews the nature of emergencies and disasters and the policies and institutions associated with them. The definition of institutions clarifies and corrects many pre-conceived ideas when it indicates that institutions are, “…persistent, predictable arrangements, laws, processes or customs serving to structure transactions and relationships in a society…” It also details nine vignettes which are used to illustrate the concepts in the rest of the book (hurricane, gas explosion, tsunami, wildfire evacuation, floods, refugees and volcanic eruptions and the London Smog of 1952). I think there would have been value in including one or two more man-made disasters to balance the natural disasters.

Part two draws in policy cycles and emergency risk management and goes into considerable depth in identifying and analysing risk and risk response. Importantly, the book stresses the crucial role of monitoring, evaluation and learning from the events – something which is not always undertaken as efficiently as it could be. My view is that Part Two is the most important and useful part of the book, spending a great deal of space discussing risk theory and practice and demonstrating how it can be effectively used in disaster and emergency policy and planning development.

Part three is short and sweet and poses more questions than answers. The book was able to incorporate the UK Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change and neatly steers this new level of thinking into the line of the risk manager and his planning for disasters.

This book will be more useful to the Corporate Risk Manager or Group Disaster Coordinator who must deal with a large number/wide range of disaster and emergency scenarios and thus requires assistance with high level policy thinking and institutional integration. A solid and detailed handbook but not an easy or quick read. Recommended for the appropriate manager.
AJH

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