Discuss the Proposition That Local Authorities Are Better Placed to Respond to Crises and Disasters Than Central Government

5400 Words Jan 29th, 2013 22 Pages

Student Number: AKERA

Course: MSc in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management

Essay Title: Discuss the proposition that local authorities are better placed to respond to crises and disasters than central government


Both the local authorities and central government have roles and responsibilities in responding to crises and disaster situations. However, several catastrophic crises and disaster events over the past decades have casted doubts on the effectiveness of central governments in responding to crises and disaster situations. As such, some scholars and
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In his book, “What is a disaster?” Quarantelli asked five researchers with different social science background (Gilbert, Dombrowsky, Kreps, Porfiriev and Horlick-Jones) to define the term disaster. Unsurprisingly, all the scholars defined disasters differently (Rosenthal, 1998). For instance, Kreps defined disasters as: “non-routine events in societies or their larger subsystems (e.g. regions, communities) that involve social disruption or physical harm” (Kreps, 1998:34).

A classical definition of disaster was coined in 1961 by a U.S pioneer of disaster research, Fritz:

Actual or threatened accidental or uncontrollable events that are concentrated in time and space, in which a society, or a relatively self-sufficient sub-division of a society undergoes severe danger, and incurs such losses to its members and physical appurtenances that the social structure is disrupted and the fulfillment of all or some of the essential functions of the society, or its sub-division is prevented

Fritz [1961:655] quoted in Fischer, 1989:2-3).

According to some scholars, Fritz’s definition of disaster has stood the test of time very well (Kreps 1988).

Nonetheless, whatever the classic definition of crises and disaster, they are bound to vary substantially in the foreign dictionaries reflecting for the particular country and the specifics of the culture and the language of each nation (Porfiriev, 1998). However, for the purposes of convenience, the
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