Centralized Disaster Management Collaboration in Turkey
Abstract: Following unprecedented earthquakes in 1999, highly centralized Turkey initiated reforms that aimed to improve disaster management collaboration and to empower local authorities. In 2011, two earthquakes hit the country anew affecting the city of Van and town of Erciş in Turkey’s southeast.In attempts to reduce disaster risk, global disaster risk reduction frameworks and disaster scholars and practitioners advocate collaborative and decentralized disaster management strategies. This thesis investigates how such strategies are received in a centralized and hierarchical national political-administrative system that largely is the anti-thesis of the prescribed solutions. More specifically, this research investigates the barriers and prerequisites for disaster management collaboration between both public and civil society actors in Turkey (during preparedness, response, and recovery) as well as how Turkey’s political-administrative system affects disaster management collaboration and its outcomes. The challenges to decentralization of disaster management are also investigated.Based on forty-four interviews with actors ranging from national to village level and NGOs, the findings suggest that the political-administrative system can alter the relative importance, validity, and applicability of previously established enabling or constraining conditions for collaboration. This may in turn challenge previous theoretical assumptions regarding collaboration.By adopting a mode of collaboration that fit the wider political-administrative system, collaborative disaster management progress was achieved in Turkey’s national level activities. Although there were exceptions, collaboration spanning sectors and/or administrative levels were generally less forthcoming, partly due to the disjoint character of the political-administrative system. Political divergence between local and central actors made central-local collaboration difficult but these barriers were partly trumped by other prerequisites enabling collaboration like interdependence and pre-existing relations. The findings suggest that the specific attributes of disasters may both help and hinder disaster management collaboration. Such collaboration generally improved disaster response. The findings also indicate that the decentralization attempts may have been premature as the conditions for ensuring a functional decentralization of disaster management are presently lacking. Decentralization attempts are commonly suggested to increase local capacity and local participation but the findings of this dissertation suggest that in Turkey, these commodities may currently have better chances of being increased by refraining from decentralization.
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