. "4 The Operational Environment and Institutional Impediments." Tools and Methods for Estimating Populations at Risk from Natural Disasters and Complex Humanitarian Crises. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007.
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Tools and Methods for Estimating Populations at Risk from Natural Disasters and Complex Humanitarian Crises
The organizational structure of international disaster response is consistent with the phases of the emergency management cycle (Figure 4.1), except that a wider array of governmental, nongovernmental, and intergovernmental entities is involved. There are many inherent dichotomies in how, when, where, and in what capacity organizations respond to disasters and humanitarian crises. First, fundamental differences exist between organizations that provide demographic data (which are usually aspatial) and those that provide spatial or geographic data (flood zones, urbanized areas), and rarely do the two work in concert to provide spatial demographic data (as noted in Chapter 2). Second, the distinction between the need for basic information technology (ability to communicate in the field and transmit data) and the equally important need for geospatial data (maps, aerial photography, geographic information systems) requires different organizational and technical approaches (Chapter 2). Finally, a dichotomy is evident between those organizations whose fundamental mission is development and those organizations whose primary concern is rescue and relief in the face of disasters and humanitarian crises. In the former, the perspective is to develop and nurture the capacity for future resilience over the long term (years to decades), while in the latter, the primary focus is immediate rescue and relief to reduce human suffering in the very short term (days to months). As might be expected, these differences reveal themselves in terms of conflicting visions and goals, the types of actors and resources involved, and organizational cultures.
As depicted schematically in Figure 4.2, while statistical and other data providers may overlap with development and response agencies, very little overlap exists between agencies engaged in development and those