Shifting liabilities and logics of decision-making: the political economy of disaster risk financing

Taylor, Olivia (2022) Shifting liabilities and logics of decision-making: the political economy of disaster risk financing. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The objective of this research is to analyse the political economy of disaster risk financing (DRF). DRF is an umbrella term for a set of policy mechanisms which enable response agencies to respond earlier to disasters, based on a measure of disaster risk, pre-arranged finance and plans, and a mechanism to trigger response. DRF is a varied policy landscape and in this thesis, I address mechanisms which allow agencies to act in advance of disasters occurring, as well as those which aim to respond earlier to disasters which have already occurred. What they have in common is linking a measure of risk – whether that is a forecast or a proxy measurement for a hazard - to a trigger which enacts a response.

Proponents argue that DRF will result in more efficient and effective response and is therefore one way to ‘square the circle’ of shortfalls in humanitarian financing. DRF has been gaining traction and momentum for some time, and 2021 was a watershed year when key donors significantly scaled up their commitments to DRF.

Critically though, because these mechanisms are designed to enact a response based on measures of risk, rather than existing humanitarian need, they pose a challenge for policymakers and practitioners because of the potential for acting erroneously or for missing events. DRF therefore opens up important questions about decision-making, mandates and liability. However, there is currently a dearth of critical literature about DRF, and almost no social science-based literature which analyses these mechanisms as part of a wider policy landscape.

As key donors and response agencies are significantly scaling up funding through DRF, it is imperative that we understand the implications of this move towards enacting a response based on measures of risk, rather than existing need, which poses a potentially momentous shift in the liabilities and logics of disaster response agencies.

Based on expert interviews, participant observation and desk-based document analysis, this thesis makes an original contribution to understanding the political economy of DRF. It explores how politics, mandates and questions of liability are shaping DRF mechanisms, and analyses the politics enacted by DRF, outlining how risk is operationalised as a calculative logic which is taking shape as a novel form of biopolitics within the humanitarian sector.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0551.2 Emergency management
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0551.2 Emergency management > HV0553 Relief in case of disasters
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2022 09:56
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2022 09:56
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/106657

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