Government decentralization and disaster impact, an exploratory study

Alain Vaillancourt

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


    The purpose of this study is to explore the link between decentralization and the impact of natural disasters through empirical analysis. It addresses the issue of the importance of the role of local government in disaster response through different means of decentralization. By studying data available for 50 countries, it allows to develop the knowledge on the role of national government in setting policy that allows flexibility and decision making at a local level and how this devolution of power influences the outcome of disasters. The study uses Aaron Schneider’s definition and rankings of decentralization, the EM-DAT database to identify the amount of people affected by disasters on average per year as well as World Bank Indicators and the Human Development Index (HDI) to model the role of local decentralization in mitigating disasters. With a multivariate regression it looks at the amount of affected people as explained by fiscal, administrative and political decentralization, government expenses, percentage of urbanization, total population, population density, the HDI and the overall Logistics Performance Indicator (LPI). The main results are that total population, the overall LPI and fiscal decentralization are all significant in relation to the amount of people affected by disasters for the countries and period studied. These findings have implication for government’s policies by indicating that fiscal decentralization by allowing local governments to control a bigger proportion of the countries revenues and expenditures plays a role in reducing the amount of affected people in disasters. This can be explained by the fact that local government understand their own needs better in both disaster prevention and response which helps in taking the proper decisions to mitigate the amount of people affected in a disaster. The reduction in the implication of national government might also play a role in reducing the time of reaction to face a disaster. The main conclusion of this study is that fiscal control by local governments can help reduce the amount of people affected by disasters.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIndividual, institutional and societal coping strategies to address the challenges associated with disaster risk
    Publication date2013
    ISBN (Print)978-1-907842-43-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
    EventInternational Conference on Building Resilience - Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
    Duration: 17.10.201319.10.2013


    • KOTA2013


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