Expert of the Week   for  15 - 21 Sep 2014

Expert photo

You too can be featured here. Share your expertise in DRR with the community.

Sign up now!

Experts Log in


Terry Jeggle

Independent Advisor, Disaster and Risk Management

Independent Consultant Expertise:  Comparative International Policies on Disaster Risk Management; Institutional Capacity Development and Professional Education for DRM; Organizational development and cross-disciplinary coordination; Higher education curriculum review, development and evaluation.

Terry Jeggle has worked internationally in development, disaster and risk management assignments for more than 40 years. He spent 16 years managing emergency operations, in refugee situations or managing development activities for the international NGO, CARE in Africa and Asia. From 1990, he was the Program and Training Coordinator, and from 1992 the Executive Director of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) in Bangkok, until 1995. He worked as a Senior Policy Officer for the secretariats of the UN-IDNDR and its successor the UN-ISDR in Geneva, from 1995-2009. During this time with the United Nations he compiled and edited Living with Risk: A global review of disaster reduction initiatives (United Nations 2004) and Know Risk (Tudor Rose and the United Nations 2004), in addition to drafting UN Secretary general reports on Early Warning, the Final Report of the IDNDR Scientific and Technical Committee, Successor documentation for IDNDR and later background material incorporated in the Hyogo Framework for Action, adopted at the Second World Conference on Disaster Reduction, 1995. Since retiring from the United Nations in 2009, Terry works as an independent advisor in his field, also having served as an adjunct faculty member at the Graduate School for Public and International Affairs of the University of Pittsburgh in the United States. His primary interests are international comparative disaster risk management policy experience and educational initiatives which advance personal engagement, professional integration and policy development related to international disaster and risk management practice.

Organizational or institutional interests in applied disaster risk management (DRM) policy issues, internationally.

Read more on the context

QQuestion by Ms Gregory Pearn

How do you see the importance for institutional strengthening and capacity-building of a country's nodal National Disaster Management Organization, as compared to DRM efforts for a country's line ministries (e.g. Education, Transport)? Thank you.

Ms Gregory Pearn Project Officer | Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC)

APosted on 20 Sep 2014

Thank you Mr. Greg Pearn for raising a question that I suspect many country authorities either are asking themselves, or if not, should be if they are serious about pursuing DRM as a sustainable national strategy. You touch on a complicated matter that is grounded in a fuller consideration of both what should be the primary and legitimate role(s) of NDMOs, how far mandates should or reasonably can be expanded, and what respective abilities are otherwise required to successfully undertake a responsible national DRM strategy. While I cannot cover all aspects of these issues, I think there are some important foundation issues to mention.

My opening statement paper for this exercise questioned if a reliance on disasters themselves was the most promising path to pursue a more comprehensive national strategy or sustained practical realization of DRM. By implication, an extension of that reasoning raises questions as to the suitability, or not of vesting which such responsibilities in NDMOs. In my introductory paper, I  tried to provide a wider perspective into what really needs to be involved within a society on actual and potential risk factors precisely before they become manifested as a disaster. This viewpoint is driven by a conviction that attention needs to be focused continuously on socio-economic conditions of distinctive populations, the geophysical conditions that define those human habitats, and the associated technical abilities or socio-political practices (and maybe “risk governance” features, too ?) that are integral to the productive functioning of communities or within a society. I am not so sure this is a close professional match of the attributes of most NDMOs nor the political and operational circumstances under which they operate. 

NDMOs have come into existence historically first to respond to crisis events, and in the course of time also to prepare for the exercise of their highly specialized abilities to be able to do so better.  They emerged from earlier civil defense/civil protection functions that existed to apply highly organized specialized skills quickly, efficiently and effectively in times of duress with very focused objectives of rescuing, halting the advance of a hazard or its damaging consequences, and providing emergency needs to affected populations. They were not conceived with the expectation that their roles are determined nor shaped to be agents of motivating or conducting socio-economic activities to minimize public exposure and to alter conditions of vulnerability.

As a simplified analogy, firefighters’ jobs are to put out fires and indeed to seek to minimize their occurrence in the first place through the promotion of “fire safety” among an informed citizenry. However, they clearly are not professionally suited nor trained to ensure that structurally safe schools are not built in floodplains. Similarly highly skilled search and rescue specialists are not likely to be involved with policy decisions about whether new housing estates should be built on newly clear-cut land that was previously either a hillside or a swamp. Perhaps that should be, but one needs to consider the nature of their specific training, its most effective applications and not over-extending their roles to the detriment of fulfilling their primary responsibilities. These examples may seem odd, but they suggest why NDMOs and their intrinsic disaster functions may not extend so seamlessly into quite different dimensions of DRM. I am afraid that all too often, NDMOs end up with any and all DRM issues through administrative inertia simply through administrative because the word “disaster” appears in their organizational title and in DRM.

This misinterprets the real distinctions between DM and D(R)M functional responsibilities. When I was working with the UNIDNDR secretariat in the late 1990s we received a heartfelt letter from the National Director of a NDMO of a coastal Latin American country. He had a problem addressing just this issue. He wrote that he and his colleagues were well trained in their field and besides responding to disaster needs they also had a full schedule of supporting public awareness and civic duties. He president of the country called him in and instructed him, that because of the serious economic costs and social consequences to our country of the last El Nino event, the NDMO should henceforth make all necessary plans and arrangements to anticipate, prepare for and as necessary respond to minimizing all consequences from future El Nino events which would certainly impact their country again. ”The Director asked simply, How can I and my staff possibly do that ? I cannot tell the President that is not our job (even though it isn’t), and none of us have been trained for that nor have whatever resources we may need even if we were.  Please do you have any advice ?”. I suspect that variations on this theme are now being played out even more frequently assuming that a disaster is a disaster and disaster risk is the same thing - which means that the NDMO is responsible for doing “it”, whatever “it” entails.

I realize that the situation is more complicated, but simply stated, to routinely expect that a NDMO somehow ought to be the nodal institution for advancing DRM throughout a society rather needs to be reconsidered. To try to be both a fully responsive NDMO and a core DRM coordinating authority can easily compromise the fulfillment of the necessary responsibilities to the extent that neither is done well.  Both roles ARE important, but the needs and professional abilities are different - and so is the institutional strengthening and capacity development required.. This is why I encourage a wider distribution of these respective roles across a society instead of stretching a NDMO to become what it fundamentally is not.

The crucial point here is that both emergency “disaster” services, even if they are broadly defined, and disaster risk management abilities are both critical for a safe society. However, neither they nor their expected functions are the same thing. They require different skills and abilities, and their ways of working, professional environments, uses of information, management techniques employed and essential operational counterparts are all very different. See Table 1.1. on page 13 of Living with Risk: A global review of disaster reduction initiatives (UN, 2004) which elaborates these distinctions. One can suggest that perhaps a NDMO may benefit from becoming more conversant with both sets of attributes ? But can one organization legitimately be expected to be staffed, skilled, resourced and structured to do all, well ? I think not.  Hierarchical organizational structures that employ expedient and well-practiced, coordinated, command and control specialized services are essential for urgent disaster response. These same qualities are hardly recommended for patiently working with the diverse populations to seek their views and motivate their participation in conducting their own community risk assessment. Why do so many governments (even with international organization encouragement) believe that somehow, this entire spectrum is, or even should be, within the realm of NDMOs’ capabilities ?

I remain concerned that the more we assume that NDMOs are the logical and capable institutional basis for DRM, or are even the predominant locus of capabilities for planning, directing and driving national strategies to realize DRM – simply because they deal with ‘disasters” -  we will not advance very far towards achieving sustained comprehensive DRR strategies. There are practical limitations, although in a few countries alternative approaches have overcome this duality through imaginative national arrangements (e.g. in Indonesia, Japan, Mozambique, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, and perhaps to some extent simply because of sheer repetitive experience over 40years, in Bangladesh.).

Elsewhere, NDMO’s are routinely under-resourced, under-staffed, and often have slight internal political influence - except of course, when there is a crisis. Even then, weak NDMOs and their contingency plans are frequently  marginalized by preemptory ad hoc actions of high level political authorities who declare an emergency and call in the military, or more likely make urgent international appeals for foreign assistance. The fact that the structure and means of operations of many NDMOs have evolved from or reflect the characteristics of uniformed service agencies in terms of administrative procedures, codified plans, drills or exercises, and doctrine may be other impediments in transitioning  to assume wider socially-defined roles and functions in a society.

I am not ignoring your question, but rather questioning the premise on which it is based, that NDMOs should be the leading proponent of DRM in a country because they are devoted to disasters on a full-time basis and other line ministries are not. THAT may actually be the reason NDMOs are not the best suited for the assumed or carelessly assigned roles. I am not sure you can transform NDMOs there from where most of them are rooted, firmly.

Hence my previous responses and my opening paper point instead to a necessarily wider distribution of roles and responsibilities to other capable organizations and institutions. This is accomplished by expanding the circle of competence beyond NDMOs, rather than within NDMOs. I do not believe that NDMOs can or should seek to assume the leading aspects of DRM because they do not have the needed range or technical skills, extended managerial reach and abilities, or institutional scope or resources to do so. Those resources do however exist elsewhere in varying degree elsewhere in a society and within other government departments. Should or can a politically weaker agency coordinate all those other line ministries. Probably not, and just changing an agency’s name from “disaster management” to “DRM” is not sufficient.

In my view NDMOs do have a particular role within DRM, but it is limited. That is accommodated and expressed in the 5th Priority for Action in the Hyogo Framework for Action. That priority was included in the HFA specifically to recognize and link the role(s) of NDMOs with what should be the other dominant institutional structures in government and professional communities which are better able to address priority areas 1, 2, 3, and 4. There already are numerous opportunities for strengthening NDMO capabilities through such examples as UNOCHA’s UNDAC auditing, assessment and operations training programs, USAID’s sponsored PEER training program, the ASEAN joint exercise program, the United States Military Command’s Joint Humanitarian Exercises, or the US Forest Service’s international training programs, among others. Disaster management training opportunities abound.

I am intentionally taking a narrow line on this because I think it is a mistake to assume or assign the “natural” repository of DRM within NDMOs. To do so is to stifle or limit the wider relevance of disaster risk-related functions to an organization created for and shaped by quite other responsibilities. I do not see DRM as emanating from NDMOs as a “cross-cutting” issue nor as an outreach responsibility for disaster management interests to propagate. If it is truly to be a national commitment, then it cannot be relegated to the “disaster-driven” office, but instead needs to become an obligation of national leadership to make it an integral responsibility of all ministries or departments.  DRM is not an “add-on”, if DRM is done fully, responsibly and continuously. It should be a basic feature of what other ministries and many professions do on a daily basis.

I hope this alternative view may stimulate a reflection of what really are the core competencies able to be demonstrated by NDMOs, and correspondingly where else DRM capacities are more likely to be accomplished successfully. If the functions were to be totally changed, and resourced, to address DRM fully, then the new entity would be a NRRO. But I do not believe that so many such national organizations have yet been established in so many countries. Maybe they will become more common within the next 20 years ?  Regards, TJ.

QQuestion by Mr Loy Rego

Which regions of the world have been most effective in dealing with DRM in a regional context? what are the lessons other regions can learn?

How does Resilience as prescribed or outlines in the zero draft of HFA 2 help advance the agenda of DRM ?

Mr Loy Rego Technical adviser and learning practitioner | MARS-d Volunteers Network

APosted on 18 Sep 2014

Thank you Mr. Loy Rego for those challenging questions. I will address the first one regarding regional effectiveness in DRM here, and respond to the second in a later post.

I think the answer regarding regional effectiveness lies less in addressing what geographical region is “the most effective” in dealing with DRM on a regional basis as that would require elevating a particular value scale across  different regional characteristics or their various and quite legitimate historical antecedents. I believe that it will be more beneficial to identify some of the attributes that I see that have served different regions well over a period of time. This has the advantage of addressing what I believe have been some of the contributing success factors, regardless of the individual distinctions. This may then also multiply the lessons which can inform others elsewhere. It also needs to be said that progress has proceeded at a different pace and with multiple motivations in various regions, too. 

At the risk of overly generalizing, I see strong community activism evident in Latin America, shared social, cultural and community values dedicated to natural resource issues in the Pacific, technical and institutional leadership across Asia, and a growing power of future higher educational motivations translating into pragmatic developmental practices in Africa.  

The consequence of major disaster events, or even prevalent types of hazards also have exerted differential degrees of motivation  in developing enhanced regional commitments to pursuing DRM with some consistency and shared interests. The motivating impacts of the Mexico City, Guatemalan, Honduran, and Peruvian earthquakes (among others) in Latin and Central America punctuated a momentum to increasing levels of DRM awareness and community practice, frequently supported by well-established and respected technical assistance organizations. The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 and the combined impacts of the Great East Japan earthquake, resulting tsunami and Fukushima nuclear release and the consequences of the Bangkok floods also in 2011 both exerted major influence on regional “awakenings” to the economic and business consequences demanding higher levels of DRM commitments. The recurrence and prevalence of persistent drought conditions in different parts of Africa motivated the respected “Famine Early Warning System” more than 30 years ago. Today, the similar prevalence of a different set of demands increasingly are driven by festering urban, unemployment and failed social service provisions affecting growing numbers of impoverished and humanly vulnerable people. The present uncontrolled Ebola epidemic is dramatically exposing the consequences of such risks right now as we speak.  

Regarding the essence of your interest, I have to begin with the Pacific Island States, including the significant and long standing associated support to the subject also emanating from Australia and New Zealand throughout the South Pacific area. Already back in the early 1990s, with even some positive motivation before that, there have been strong and consistent regionally based efforts to benefit from the strong community values that existed around small settlements with limited resources, historically dependent and culturally associated with natural elements and resources.  Given the smaller populations, often limited distribution of technical skills and resources spread over large geographical areas and very strong local community inter-dependencies in small island states, “community-based” decision-making, planning and local responsibilities have existed long before CBDRM “community-based disaster risk management” was even enshrined as a global approach. Shared efforts and community interests also have been historically represented in governance structures, dialogue about shared concerns, and consensus decision-making informed some of the earliest efforts to forge common cause in developing a regional approach to DRM. 

The strength of these unified commitments exerted similar approaches on resulting relationships with regional bilateral (or international organization) technical and development assistance organizations, the use and operational arrangements of humanitarian assistance practices at the time of need, and the development or execution of various development, education, or technical programs emanating from regional technical institutions. Regional assessments, regional reports, regional implementation plans, regional training opportunities and increasingly regional political actions have characterized Pacific Island participation throughout the IDNDR, UNISDR, and now climate change eras with their respective motivations for addressing combined disaster risk and related management issues.  As elsewhere, there were some few, but very highly respected and knowledgeable local leaders holding various positions of influence – in individual governments, some local authorities, respected technical professionals, UN experts, educators as well as knowing administrators of primary external assistance agencies who guided and sustained these attributes.

In a somewhat different context Latin America and the Caribbean region has had a long association with some few “early adopting” international organizations that provided a firm institutional foundation for. The Pan American health Organization’s Preparedness Division, the Organization of American States, mitigation planning and infrastructural development, later the Inter-American Development Bank all encouraged and nurtured sustained DRM commitments in their respective areas of interests and technical disciplines. However, the combined forces of academic research and education into local hazard and risk conditions and local political action committees at community level built cadres of informed activists who collectively developed their capabilities and influence. La Red throughout the Americas, CEPREDENAC in Central America, the Andean Development Corporation amongst others worked for building long term objectives, building coalitions across the region, or sub-regions fundamentally grounded in DRM and with close associations to issues of poverty, localized exposure to recurrent hazards, livelihood considerations and development issues more generally. As in the Pacific, there were several highly respected and very influential professionals who were personally dedicated to sustained DRM efforts in contrast to recurrent emergency assistance relief over the past 30-40 years. The highly networked professionals, whether long-time resident expatriates or now successive generations of national professional from the region have become a tight motivating force spanning countries within the region and also forceful proponents and interlocutors between their region and the rest of the world. 

Despite the overwhelming magnitudes in Asia and its sub-regions, of populations, vast land areas, preponderance of disaster events and extraordinary disaster losses, the region has been a leading example of the accumulated impact of technical and training institutions dedicated from their inception to what has since become known as DRM and DRR. The Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (created1986), the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ca. 1998), the Bandung Institute of Technology, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and numerous technical institutes in India, the Kyoto University Disaster Prevention Research Center in Japan, and the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal, among others are only some examples of the current institutions extending DRM awareness and professional capabilities across regions. The web of relationships  that each of these institutions has – within the areas of their expertise, but also into and beyond governments and individual officials,  and related to even wider international networks all infuse a regional “bloodstream” that has only partially been tapped for the full force of its combined potentials to advance more sustained and coherent DRM practice. It is not surprising, again, that many of these institutions reflect the work and dedicated interests of individuals who are often only slightly recognized, much less supported in their work for the benefits they provide to growing abilities involved in DRM. 

Africa too has demonstrated its own capacities and significant developments for increasing regional exchange, cohesion and exchange particularly in recent years as both international and regional efforts have sought to embed sustained commitments to DRM. Southern, western, eastern and “greater Horn” sub-regional initiatives have expanded. These have been grounded in technical, educational, and diverse pragmatic considerations of risk issues more closely associated with continuing development objectives related to such areas as water, land, food production, uncontrolled urban growth, and fundamental exposure of livelihoods to disaster risks. The Peri Peri U consortium of 11 African universities with programmes dedicated to disaster risk science and practice across the continent is a leading global example of building future DRM abilities throughout a region. It is a striking example of diversity as each university program is housed in a different faculty and pursues unique disciplines which each reflect a distinctive aspect of DRM practice, in all cases grounded in local experience and guided by locally relevant research and related documentation.

I do not wish to slight examples from European and Middle Eastern regions, but I am afraid that my personal knowledge is inadequate to the task. As for North America, it is simply difficult to speak of a “regional approach” to DRM considering the predominance of three countries own respective program approaches toed so specifically to their own immediate concerns, with relatively less regional orientation to DRM dispersion. 

No doubt there are additional factors involved, but I believe this sampling provides some useful indications of what has been instrumental in different settings. But to conclude, I do suggest these “bests” to answer your quest, “simply”:

Longest termed, most embedded cultural commitments – South Pacific states.

Most engrained local community activism with local political intent – Latin America and Caribbean.

Best “institutionally grounded” and regionally extended  – Asia

Most rapidly changing, through a combined realization of new “opportune-necessities” and pressing socio-economic dimensions of  risk – Africa

Regards, TJ   (Resilience comments later)

Loy Rego’s Question 2. How does resilience as prescribed or outlined in the zero draft of HFA 2 help advance the agenda of DRM ?

Terry Jeggle’s response:

(I understand the "zero-draft of HFA2" as referring to the "pre-zero draft of the post-2015 framework for DRR". the Co-chairs' non-paper in public circulation.)

I do not believe it does, at least in tangible or material terms.

In what I suspect is a minority opinion, I believe that “resilience” is not the overarching, defining and motivating factor that it is so widely promoted as being.  It think it is an idealized concept that propagates a false sense of an achievable state. One can work to strengthen, inform, improve, innovate, protect, nurture, educate, or develop many specific things. When sustained and combined over time, and their impacts are multiplied, they can together improve a community’s or a society’s viability, well-being and care for its recognized assets.  I believe it is more helpful to talk specifics rather than to articulate our unexamined wishes.

I believe the motivated use of “resilience” to be essentially a marketing label, a shorthand expression, that has much more allusive meaning than it does substance in providing guidance, direction or particular efficacy leading to tangible accomplishments in DRM. Ten years ago (including in the HFA) “capacity building” was always unexplained and non-specific too, as it was embraced as being crucial for successful DRR. While there is an undeniable relevance about what it entails, it is much easier to rhetorically "call for it", than to sustain and accomplish the various aspects that go into its realization. Resilience is a similar over-simplification.

Resilience, is an expression that is so vague, malleable and multi-purpose that it can easily be mis-adapted to all sorts of potential conditions.  Therefore, I question how motivating or productive  it can be in practice. I realize that it is defined, but that should not be confused with its tangible realization. The extent of oft-repeated areas of need and concerns that have been lined up and drawn out since at least 1994, and now are ascribed as being objects for resilient attention, really must invite skepticism. These are all listed in the Preamble of the pre-zero draft post-2015 framework. Try reading just paragraph 5, as if you were a state secretary in the ministry of “x”, or the mayor of  your own hometown; much less as a rice farmer near Barisal, Bangladesh or a street-food cart operator in Bangkok.

The widespread reliance and seldom elaborated manifestations of resilience invite future expectations that are quite disassociated from daily practicalities. They blur the realities by which governments govern, people lead their lives, educators teach and, professionals practice in the chaotic efforts and challenges experienced by people, communities and countries as they seek to traverse their many and varied social, economic and environmental measures that characterize, and sometimes threaten, their existence.

People develop and embrace certain degrees of understanding, are influenced by a wide range of psychological, social, economic and environmental issues. They make decisions (or not), and take (or avoid) actions which have consequences. The same functions apply within communities and throughout counties except as the scales of encounter increase, so do the complexity and powers of competing influences. To crystalize this actual if messy reality into “the need for greater resilience”  in nearly everything is quite unhelpful. It raises very artificial expectations alongside the endless lists of things to do.

The past 25 years have sketched out the DR landscape, raised the profile and local appreciation of dynamic risks. The costs of extreme events with great and complex consequences (even if they occur elsewhere in equivalent circumstances) have forced the realization of continuing exposure in all societies. It is now time to move beyond the grand expressions of all-encompassing relevance in international forums, and instead begin to burrow into the many, specific, definable and locally palpable perceptions and actions nationally and locally that  contribute piecemeal to the DRM mosaic. It is now more relevant to support individuals, communities and countries in pursuing the particular, the specific and the sequential steps they discern as important through their own distinctive roles and abilities which they either possess or strive to obtain.   

Regards, TJ.

QQuestion by Mr Olumide Idowu

How can an organization measure there impact in working on DRR Issues?

Mr Olumide Idowu Youth Engagement Officer | Nigeria Youth Climate Coalition

APosted on 16 Sep 2014

Dear Mr. Olumide Idowu,                                                                                                                        Thank you for your question which I think is one that is often raised, but too often gets lost in the busyness of what is always pressing work. While I cannot do justice to all of the possible aspects involved, I will try to focus on what I believe are some important considerations. However I am afraid that I cannot provide you with a specific set of measures. I will rather suggest some important approaches that may be useful in finding your own.                                                                                                                                        First, I believe it is essential that both the management or directors of any organization be very clear among themselves, their associates, their staff and the other entities they work with about what their organization's overall role and specific objectives are. The second pre-requisite is to identify and as necessary prioritize either strategically or sequentially which of their functions, activities, or tasks are most important to achieving their intended objectives or results.                                                                  Second, one needs an identified baseline to proceed from and a sufficient amount of data which they believe provides valid measures of progress, whether they are couched in quantitative or qualitative terms, and the organizational means to collect and analyze it consistently. Questions of scale, complexity, period of time covered and how much managerial and staff time to invest in the evaluating process depends on the value the organization (or others it wishes to satisfy, such as external supporters, the local community, etc.) deem necessary. One also needs to be clear what the organization's own measures of success are. One needs to determine when it is looking at the accomplishment (and efficiencies or effectiveness ?) of means, (e.g. outputs of specific activities or tasks), or more fundamental valuations of outcomes (e.g. changed behavior, altered conditions, or motivated change amongst a designated target audience). The latter is immeasurably more demanding and in most cases can only be determined over some longer periods of time during which multiple efforts have been provided. Simply stated, growth and change takes time.                                                                                                                                  These are all general determining characteristics which I believe relate to any assessment or evaluation process regardless of the subject content. In looking at "DR issues" specifically, these same qualifications or definition of understanding, purpose, intended priority impacts, specific audiences, over what time period, to what degree of demonstrated change, etc. need to be addressed, but their characteristics will be determined by the specifics of the individual features of DRR being pursued. For example if an organization is dedicated to improving the effectiveness of early warning in a specific local community, then there would be a need to determine the extent of public understanding about hazards, people's knowledge and acceptance of their own respective risks involved, knowledge about the various early warning system signals, effective operational procedures for issuance and communication of (understandable) warnings to the people where they actually are threatened by the hazard ("the last km. or mile"), how that warning signal or information is linked to viable protective actions, and what the affected population's own personal capabilities or options may be.                                                               In what I imagine relates to your own interests in working with youth I would anticipate that you would be focused on some basis of the extent, depth and increased levels of understanding about basic DRR concepts the youths would be working with in their respective roles, locations or relationships. Are you and they primarily focused on DRR involvement in and about schools, assessing and making their homes and family environments safer, increasing wider public awareness throughout the local community, or even incorporating disaster risk-related interests within their own education ? Each of these expectations would have different metrics, and they can be tailored to be either more or less sophisticated (or time and effort consuming) practices to accomplish..                                                                                                 For these reasons, I am not a keen proponent of absolute or universal standards, but I do believe that all the actors involved, and other immediate stakeholders, do need to become involved themselves through motivation and informed guidance in determining their own measures of success. Accomplishments really need to be scaled or to reflect the expectations of a specified party. I would say ultimately this should be the people most directly affected by the disaster risks (or from a supply side, those who are striving to deliver goods, services or changed effects).                                                                                       However, the realities of project design and program management also have additional layers of satisfaction that are required, for example among financial supporters, compliance with local regulations or professional standards of practice. THE answer is that there is no single answer. I believe that because of these variable conditions and expectations, a beneficial and on-going process is to address the valid need of how "we, ourselves" determine success or (what) specific impacts "we" should strive for in the work we do. Every time our work is tested by threat, hazard or failure, it provides another checkpoint for comparison on the adequacy of the measures we have set for ourselves. This will require alteration or revision in what can only be a continuous and constantly reflective process, but estimation and adjustment need to be evident. Veterans move on and new contributors and collaborators join efforts, which hopefully grow and become more competent over time. One equally needs to recall that the risk environment itself certainly is not static either.                                                                                                                           My concerns about measuring impacts is that "lip-service" to monitoring and effectiveness is too often driven by unrealistic (or sometimes uninformed) expectations of external parties for their reasons, removed from the operational and/or cultural and professional conditions of day-to-day efforts in the work that organizations and people do. Often overly elaborate systems are dreamed up, despite considerable limitations in the existence of viable data or efficient means of data collection, management and analysis. Frustration results, plans wither, and in the end purposes suffer.                                                                 In conclusion, I believe it may be more impactful for reasonable and obtainable targets to be agreed, within realistic timeframes, by the people most immediately concerned, and then the periodic reflection, observation and indicative measurement be programmed into the course of implementation activities. It is this last feature which gets lost because everyone is so busy, so a critical element in determining the means to measurement basically comes down to management making it integral to project or program practice on an on-going basis. The details have to come from informed leadership and the organizational efforts themselves. I hope you find these comments useful as you relate them to your own role(s) and needs. Regards, TJ