Call for papers: regional symposium on COVID-19 and its impact on disaster management and resilience global platform on Disaster Risk Reduction - Bali, 2022

Source(s): National Agency for Disaster Management (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana) Australia - government
Call for papers

1. Background

The 2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on all aspects of human activity across the face of the planet. As with most events that cause disruption, it is those people with the greatest vulnerabilities such as women, children the elderly and people with disabilities that have suffered the most severe hardships and whose resilience to crises has been most acutely tested. The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) recorded 165 natural and complex disaster events in 2020 in Asia and the Pacific on the Emergency Events Database. These do not include events related to COVID-19. These events have not only had a direct impact on populations across the region, particularly women and children and other marginalised and/or vulnerable social groups; they have also seriously challenged the ability of humanitarian and disaster response actors to meet the needs of affected people in a timely, efficient, and effective manner, particularly when supporting those in greatest need and bearing in mind the need to emphasise a resilience-based approach in their work. They have tested the resilience of communities and people to meet the extraordinary challenges that the pandemic has wrought.

Pandemic-related constraints have also thrown into sharp relief ongoing debates about regionalization and localisation of aid and related resilience programming. On the one hand there is a strong recognition that national and sub-national disaster actors are the backbone of delivering assistance when movement controls, social distancing and other constraints prevent a “business as usual” approach for international, regional, and sometimes national aid deliveries. At the same time donor behaviour appears to be moving in two directions; firstly a sharp reduction in aid budgets due to the economic damage wrought by COVID-19, and secondly an approach that maximises risk mitigation, with some initial indications that the 2020 and 2021 data may show a percentage increase in available donor funds being channelled through the multilateral aid system as the risk bearer of choice during 2020, a move at odds with the commitments made in the 2016 Grand Bargain.

The SIAP SIAGA program, the implementing program for the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Disaster Risk Management, aims to enhance collaboration between Australia and Indonesia to improve disaster management in the Indo-Pacific region in pursuit of enhancing the resilience of people including women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly within their communities that are most likely to be affected by disasters and crises. The program includes the development of an evidence base to demonstrate how knowledge management and learning can best be institutionalised to promote innovation. Thus, rapid capture of the lessons from these events are a program priority, with the outputs of the lessons learned process feeding into the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR)
and/or Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR), to be held in 2022, so ensuring that captured lessons can be shared both within and outside the Indo-Pacific region.

2. Objective

The Indo-Pacific region is one of the most prone areas to any sorts of disasters. It is geographically large and culturally diverse and thus are well-positioned to contribute to global knowledge on disaster management. SIAP SIAGA aims to support Australia and Indonesia in facilitating the sharing of lessons from the region related to COVID-19 and its impact on disaster management and resilience during the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) and/or Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR) to
be held in 2022.

It is intended that these lessons will contribute to enhancing global knowledge on disaster management; promoting better understanding on best practices and lessons learned in disaster management during the COVID19 pandemic; and as much as possible influence international and regional organizations in adapting policies and procedures in order that they are appropriate to the so-called “new normal” in a post-pandemic world.

3. Preliminary Results from the June 2021 Lessons Learning Webinar Series

The first step of this lessons learning exercise was a series of six online discussions which collected initial observations from a group of experts, practitioners, and government officials. The aim of the online discussions was to throw the net as widely as possible and obtain a broad range of perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on disaster management and resilience. The online sessions met this aim and provided initial observations around possible lessons to be further explored. The discussions engaged subject-matter experts from governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), international and regional organisations, the private sector, the tech sector and others, triggering timely, challenging debate and discourse with the online audience on possible lessons that can be further explored.

Speakers emphasised that the practice of disaster management, resilience, and humanitarian action is expected to follow the internationally acclaimed aspiration of “as local as possible, as international as necessary”. Indeed, the webinar conclusions largely confirmed that while the pandemic has caused untold devastation across the region, the limitations on “business as usual” approaches to provision of assistance to people affected by (non-pandemic) disasters means that space and opportunities have been accelerated for rapid transformation of disaster management and humanitarian action to strengthen local leadership. This direction of travel is aligned with national and sub-national aspirations across the region and the commitments included in the 2015 Grand Bargain.1 However, speakers in the webinar series noted that a broad range of often institutional and largely pre-existing factors have slowed or derailed this process.

Analysis of the series revealed that three key areas remain problematic and thus are translated into three themes for this “Call for Papers”.

4. Themes of Call for Papers


While commitments have been made for a number of years, there is insufficient change in how international, regional and national disaster management and humanitarian organizations are structured, and how they relate to each other, to allow effective disaster response to be led and implemented by local actors. This, coupled with limited willingness to invest in local capacity for disaster resilience at all levels, has prevented transformation from taking place at a rate required to be able to ensure that local actors are prepared to respond to the growth of disaster risks such as the emergence of the current pandemic. While the pandemic has demonstrated very clearly the capacities of local actors to lead response efforts, the discourse requires a change in emphasis to match current (pandemicaware) reality with theoretical approaches which remain largely rooted in pre-pandemic perspectives.

For this theme, we seek solutions-focused contributions and feedback from experts, researchers, practitioners and any other interested parties, especially people who have been affected by disasters during the pandemic, and/or who have been involved in - or have a direct or indirect relationship with - the governance of and institutional leadership for localizing disaster management during the time of the pandemic. We invite submission of unpublished and original research on this issue. The topics of interest include but are not limited to:

(i) Lack of Incentive to change, and vested-interest to maintain, status-quo

Localization, in its most simple form, requires a shift in the balance of power, influence, and money (see point (ii) immediately below) away from international and regional actors to the national and local levels. Lack of willingness and/or incentives for this to take place manifests as resistance to this agenda, particularly from those whose incentives favour maintaining the status quo. While the pandemic could be a contributing factor to accelerating change there is little evidence that this is occurring.

(ii) Dependency on Traditional Financing

The current ecosystem of humanitarian financing is still largely dependent on the major traditional donors along with their internationally established and preferred systems, power relations, levels of risk tolerance and mechanisms. Alternative financing such as the private sector, regional, national (i.e. governmental), and local financing, have yet to exhibit scale.

(iii) Rigidity and Strictness of System's Requirements

Early indications seem to indicate that, despite decreasing access for international, regional and national actors to communities because of pandemic-related concerns, risk tolerance on behalf of funding bodies has decreased the appetite to push any significant increases in funding to local actors.

(iv) Capacity Gap

Capacity is a critical foundation for localization, and the capacity to lead, take charge of, and deliver age, gender and disability appropriate disaster management services at the local level, is a key determinant in the path towards localization. Developing this capacity requires long-term developmental resources that most humanitarian actors are unwilling (or unable) to invest.

(v) Insufficiently Robust Regulatory Frameworks

Speed, space, and preference towards localization, as well as for programming which focuses attention and resources, including on the differential needs of particular social groups, such as women, children, the elderly and the disabled, are influenced by strategies, policies, and regulations issued by both providing and recipient governments. The absence of regulations, in particular those that would enable greater regulation of international and regional cooperation, disaster assistance and partnership, a stronger role for local organizations, greater participation of specific social groups and the financing of local organizations have been contributing factors to limiting effective localization.


Evidence from the webinars suggests that the pandemic has done little to shift the paradigm in favour of greater participation, equality and leadership for local actors in partnerships with models focused on contractor/contractee principles and agreements. While there was recognition of the key role that local actors played and continue to play in supporting people affected by disasters during the pandemic the need to expand the scope, definition and ambition of disaster-management partnerships and to recast management and alignment of interests so that they are fit for purpose in our current environment, where COVID-19 will continue to be a prevalent factor, were all raised as issues to be further examined.

For this theme, we solicit solutions-focused contributions from experts, researchers, practitioners and any other interested parties, especially people who have been affected by disasters during the pandemic, that focus on lessons around development of sustainable
partnership for managing disaster at the local level during the current pandemic and/or other significant crises. We invite submission of unpublished and original research on this issue. The topics of interest include but are not limited to:

(i) Limited Scope and Ambition of Partnership

Current operational-based partnership models, largely between a contractor and contractee, tend to focus on aid delivery, aligned with the contractor’s risk appetite and policies and procedures. This limits the involvement of local actors in setting the agenda, strategy, and policy concerning disaster management and humanitarian action, including more detailed treatment of and focus on gender, disability, age and other variables for which the system must do better. This approach also does not enable meaningful discussion in determining what localization will look like in the future as complexity, such as that experienced through the pandemic, increases.

(ii) Inappropriate Success Criteria

Operational-based partnerships tend to place more value on the effectiveness and efficiency of aid delivery (project completion, administrative achievement) and less on capacity development, empowerment, mentoring and differential requirements of local actors to lead on articulating needs and deciding best delivery modalities, depending upon, inter alia, gender, age and other social considerations and the different pressures wrought by operating in a pandemic environment.

(iii) Limited Time Horizons

Short-term and one-off partnerships limit the transfer of knowledge, technology and opportunities to build trust and confidence, influence mindsets, and establish an effective and sustainable partnerships, especially with particular social groups; all of which are best done long before disasters strike. The need for sustainable partnerships were considered particularly important in the context of operations being managed during the pandemic.

(iv) Inability to Align Interests

Different agencies involved in disaster management and humanitarian action have differently aligned interests depending on their agendas, values, mission, and goals, which complicate the ability to agree on a unified approach on how to best assist people in need. This interoperability gap between partners, caused by lack of attention to definition of the motivating factors behind the development of the partnership, can be a factor in preventing them from strengthening collective capacity to assist the affected community.


There is sufficient evidence to argue that the use of technology has accelerated exponentially during the time of the pandemic. This created momentum to accelerate digitalization in the disaster management and humanitarian sectors so as to enhance resilience at the local level. Yet this valuable social capital remains largely untapped and sectoral digitalization did not progress at the preferred rate.

For this theme, we invite solutions-focused contributions from experts, researchers, practitioners and any other interested parties,especially people who have been affected by disasters during the pandemic, that focus on the use of digital technology for improved
management of disasters particularly during the time of the current pandemic and/or other significant crises. We invite submission of unpublished and original research on this issue. The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

(i) Selective Digitization

The significant resources that have been deployed for digitization are largely limited to digitizing the business processes in the humanitarian sector. This falls short of what is needed since the real impact in digitization will only occur when there are commitments and actions to digitizing the system architecture, including greater focus on:

  • Coherence between the different “levels” of the system, especially given increasing incidence of complex challenges (like the pandemic).
  • Better use of digitisation for management of complex response operations - particularly sudden onset operations during a pandemic such as COVID-19/
  • Recognising and addressing inherent biases in data management away from addressing gender and other socially based inequities.
  • Systematizing humanitarian cash transfers/synergizing with national social protection programs rather than the current country-by-country. Agency-by-agency approach.
  • Fully digitizing and universalizing the humanitarian logistics system.
  • Data-enabling the humanitarian coordination system, and
  • Deeper examination of issues around ID in camp situations and potential links to the broader international travel regime.

The pace of harnessing technology to solve humanitarian challenges will depend on upscaling some of the fundamentals such as capacity in data management, and a greater focus on data disaggregation, including data collection, data analysis and data visualization; government regulation on data security, protection, privacy, and surveillance; interaction with the advancement of digital technology; and the importance of understanding who will be impacted by the technology. The impact that the pandemic has had on acceleration of digitisation in disaster management and humanitarian action is also an issue which will require significant further research and analysis.

(ii) Exclusive governance arrangements

Existing international humanitarian governance arrangements have gone through several rounds of reform since the establishment of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee in 1991 but there have been limited efforts to bring technology actors into the disaster management and humanitarian global governance setting where they could become more actively involved in decision making and in creating solutions for disaster management, resilience, and future global humanitarian action challenges, taking lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

(iii) Literacy Gap

The popular shift in how social media is perceived (previously as a source of information with diverse perspectives and now increasingly as a key source of news without verification and validation) has increased the incidence of so-called “fake news”, which complicates emergency response communications during disasters, including very notably during the current pandemic. It also can distort communication lines between affected populations and assistance providers during decision-making processes.

(iv) Imbalance in Risk Communication

High levels of coverage through traditional and social media during significant disaster emergencies trigger tremendous attention and support – as seen during COVID-19 surges during the pandemic, while the same level of attention is much harder to garner for
risk communication for mitigation, prevention, and preparedness.

5. Submission Procedure

Interested experts and practitioners who wish to submit papers are requested to adhere to the following procedure:

(i) Submission of Abstracts are welcomed from individuals, organisations, groups, and/or institutions in Asia and the Pacific regions.Submissions from individuals, organisations, groups and/or institutions working on Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) and youth issues are strongly encouraged.

(ii) Submissions should include a title, an abstract of no more than 500 words and a brief speaker(s) biography of no more than 150 words. Abstracts which do not include a description of how the author intends to include analysis or treatment of gender, disability and social inclusion perspectives will not be considered.

(iii) A template for preparation of the Abstract must be used and can be obtained by emailing

(iv) All submissions should be written in English and the contents of the Abstract should not have been previously published.

(v) Abstracts will be evaluated by a Board of Evaluators with membership from the Governments of Indonesia and Australia, SIAP SIAGA and two independent evaluators.

(vi) Six (6) successful candidates will be informed by 10 September 2021 and will thereafter be required to submit their completed paper, and an accompanying explanatory presentation of no more than 15 slides, by 8 October 2021 for circulation to attendees at the Symposium. They will also be required to present and discuss the paper during break-out sessions at the Symposium.

(vii) Templates will be provided to successful candidates for the papers and the presentation.

(viii) Papers should have a word count of no more than 6,000 words which shall include a summary, analysis, referenced evidence which supports arguments put forward in the paper and a recommendations section broken down by stakeholder.

(ix) The SIAP SIAGA Program will retain the right to use all accepted papers and information contained therein, providing due credit to the author(s), for the purpose of codifying lessons learned for the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2022. All submissions will need to be accompanied by a non-objection form which will be provided to successful candidates.

(x) Abstract submissions should be made directly to the following email addresses: and by 17:00 (WIB) on Tuesday 31 August 2021.

(xi) For any additional enquiries and questions about the conceptual and technical aspects of this call for papers, please kindly contact

6. Recognition and Remuneration

All parties who submitted abstracts for this call for paper will receive invitations to join the symposium as participants. All accepted submissions will be acknowledged in the proceedings of the symposium. The following remuneration will be provided for the call for papers.

(i) Authors of the six (6) selected papers may be remunerated for their work, through conclusion of a contractual relationship between the author and SIAP SIAGA, in a sum equivalent to AUD 1,000 each and authors (1 per paper) will be requested to present/defend their paper during the regional symposium.

(ii) Selected presenters may also be invited to participate and present in:

  • the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Online Regional Lessons Learned Meeting on COVID-19 and Disaster Management, which is a follow-on meeting from the Regional Conference on Humanitarian Assistance 2021.
  • a side event or other event at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) and/or Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR) for which travel costs will be supported.

(iii) All submissions and participants will be provided with a certificate of participation.

7. Important Dates

Launching and announcement of the Call for Papers
Template for preparation and submission of Abstracts available by email from
10 August 2021
Deadline for Abstract Submissions 31 August 2021
Announcement and notification for selected abstracts 10 September 2021
Deadline for submission of full papers and presentations 8 October 2021
Regional Symposium 20 October 2021
Regional Lessons Learned Meeting January or February 2022
Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) and/or Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on
Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR)
May 2022

For more information, please email


1To get more means into the hands of people in need and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian action, the Grand Bargain sets out 51 commitments distilled in 9 thematic work streams and one cross cutting commitment: 1. Greater Transparency; 2. More support and funding tools to local and national responders; 3. Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming; 4. Reduce Duplication and Management costs with periodic functional reviews; 5. Improve Joint and Impartial Needs Assessments; 6. A Participation Revolution: include people receiving aid in making the decisions which affect their lives; 7. Increase collaborative humanitarian multi-year planning and funding; 8. Reduce the earmarking of donor contributions; 9. Harmonize and simplify reporting requirements; 10. Enhance engagement between humanitarian and development actors.

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