Disaster Management, Developing Country Communities & Climate Change: The Role of ICTs

Climate change presents two types of disaster threat in developing countries. One is the potentially devastating impact on vulnerable communities of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events. This contributes to the second threat, the compounding of what are already complex development problems leading to a potential downward development spiral for the world’s poor. Effective disaster response demands rapid access to reliable and accurate data and the capacity to assess, analyse and integrate information from varied sources. ICTs can contribute to improve this. This paper focuses on the role of ICTs in reducing the impacts of acute climate-related events. It discusses the centrality of the community in effective disaster management, while acknowledging the important role of governments, donors, businesses, epistemic communities and NGOs. Some ICT applications in hydrometeorological disasters are described. In spite of the concerns regarding dependency and unsustainability raised by the fact that majority of applications are funded externally, the paper argues there are grounds for optimism.

Nonita T. Yap
© Centre for Development Informatics Institute for Development Policy and Management, SED, 2011