ISOKIA Science

Research Projects

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Analysis and development of personal disaster preparedness and self-help capacity of persons with impairment –
study and guidelines for (political) communities

Personal disaster preparedness and self-help particularly of persons with impairment or disability are widely neglected in Germany, although these persons can be highly vulnerable. From this a serious protection gap results. The problem is even quantitatively of importance, because approximately a quarter of the population living in Germany is impaired or disabled.

Some Results of the project:

(1) Sociological foundation of personal disaster preparedness and self-help ability of people with impairments or disabilities. After a portrayal and check of existing approaches an approved sociological concept, the capital theory of Pierre Bourdieu is developed further and for the first time applied to the topic on hand.

(2) Thorough enquiry and fact-finding of the approaches and initiatives in Germany and in Europe to stimulate and promote personal disaster preparedness and self-help of and for persons with impairments and disabilities and to convey corresponding abilities. The transferability of experiences won in other countries to Germany is examined.

(3) The conceptual model KE-MUST delivers a frame for the systematic recording, description and analysis of the functional needs of people with impairments and disabilities. They have to be taken into account during planning, initiation and support of personal disaster preparedness and self-help. KE-MUST is important in the complementary rescue services and in disaster preparedness and prevention also.

(4) NEOBEHR is a model for the development of personal disaster preparedness and self-help and consists of six columns. Each column encloses several components and describes in expandable elaborateness those elements and factors which are important to develop and improve personal disaster preparedness and self-help especially of people with impairments and disabilities. The columns and components are related to each other. The development of personal disaster preparedness and self-help on the basis of NEOBEHR should be activated and promoted in municipalities and political communities.

(5) In detail described and well-founded suggestion to form or activate the development of Communities of Practice (CoP) (in German: Gemeinschaften der Praxis – GdP) on level of municipalities or political communities in Germany to develop personal disaster preparedness and self-help ability of people with impairments and disabilities. Community of Practice (CoP) is a concept born in United States which there proved itself in context of general personal disaster preparedness and response. CoP respectively GdP is a main component in the first column of NEOBEHR. It has positive connections with aims of people with impairments or disabilities like self-responsibility, self-determined life, empowerment and participation, also.

(6) Summarizing recommendations as well as suggestions and tips for designing and putting into action on level of municipalities and political communities.

(7) After a first successful practice test of the concepts and models, in discourse with employees of the foundation of Eben Ezer e. V. in Lemgo, and after developing of a multitude of useful measures which take into account the few but valuable approaches and experiences with personal disaster preparedness and self-help of people with impairments and disabilities in Germany and in some European countries the publication is still due to initiate a broad discussion and creative applications possible.

(8) The project encloses a guide for municipalities and other political communities based on the results of the study for the development of personal disaster preparedness and self-help ability of people with impairments and disabilities.

Status: finished

Cooperation partner: Foundation Eben-Ezer e. V., Lemgo (Germany)

Carried out with means of the Federal Republic of Germany (Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance – BBK, Bonn).

Some Results are reported in the German journal "Notfallvorsorge":

Christian Herrmann, Inklusion im Bevölkerungsschutz: Die Selbstschutz- und Selbsthilfefähigkeit von Menschen mit Beeinträchtigungen, in: Notfallvorsorge, Vol. 45, 2014, No 2, 4 – 9.


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Women as a target group of voluntary engagement in civilian and disaster prevention

Aims of the project: Analysis of barriers and hindrances for voluntary engagement of women in this field and development of change strategies which are suitable to rise the engagement of women in civilian and disaster prevention.

An international comparison shows that voluntary engagement is seized insufficiently in German Surveys concerning volunteering. Different from Austria and Switzerland it is not distinguished between formal (organisation-bound) and informal (e.g. neighbourhood, family or personal network oriented) voluntary engagement. Neglecting this distinction has the effect that lower engagement of women is falsely stated whereas their engagement is often just higher than the engagement of men in the informal area. It has to be considered that informal voluntary engagement which publicly remains invisible, in many cases, reduces the necessity of organized voluntary and other engagement or makes it unnecessary.

With regard to change strategies for the improvement of voluntary engagement of women in civilian and disaster prevention the international enquiry shows merely for Australia several more practical approaches. Australia, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have been considered concerning approaches to promote the engagement of women in this area. A strategy which is important and tested in Australia is the development of an environment for learning, working and exercises being secure and without prejudice in which women can discover test and develop their abilities.

Another result of the international enquiry is that voluntarily engaged women are under-represented also in other European countries especially in leading and managerial functions and that gender mainstreaming strategies are pursued systematically in this field in none of the countries in scope.

In Germany the following organisations are active in civilian and disaster prevention and were included in the study.

Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Deutschland e. V. (ASB)

Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk (THW)

Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft e. V. (DLRG)

Deutsches Rotes Kreuz e. V. (DRK)

Freiwillige Feuerwehr (FF)

Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e. V. (JUH)

Malteser Hilfsdienst e. V. (MHD)

The following results are valid:

The participation of women in voluntary activities diverges considerably. In leading functions only in the ASB the participation of women nearly reaches equal share in comparison with men. The greatest deficits with regard to the inclusion of women even at base level have to be stated in the Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk, however there are cautious attempts to integrate women. Considerable progress on the other hand can be seen at volunteer fire brigades, not at least stimulated and activated by a practice oriented accompanying sociological research project.

Among the youth organizations of the mentioned relief organizations partly further developed attempts in gender mainstreaming are in use and partly a noteworthy participation of women in leading positions, also. Worthy mentioning is the thought-out gender mainstreaming approach of the youth organization of the Johanniter (Johanniter-Jugend).

In general has to be stated that women are under-represented on the operative and leading level in almost all relief organisations, respectively in functions where decisions are taken. Equal occupation of women and men in "Bereitschaftsleitungen" forms an exception in the management structure of the German Red Cross (DRK). With regard to the participation in leadership courses which open access to leadership and management positions the situation is not fundamentally different. The situation is, however, very heterogeneous in the organisations looked at.

Related to change strategies two important basic attempts can be distinguished:

It has to be worked on the traditional gender oriented view of organisations to place women in non-decision areas. For this corresponding consciousness as well as favourable prerequisites for the participation of women in management and leadership courses and for the access to the corresponding functions must be created.

At basic level particularly in THW, partly also at the fire brigades, it is necessary to mention women as women by well-considered public relations, taster courses or similar measures and to cut off the antiquated customs in which conventional stereotypes of a female technology distance are constructed again and again and to open as regards content and culturally for women. Good ways into this direction show the guidelines of women of the volunteer fire brigades in the German fire brigade association (Deutscher Feuerwehrverband) and the suggestions which are worked out and realized in Australia.

The organisation study on hand is the first one to the topic in which all relevant relief organizations which are active in civilian and disaster prevention in Germany are included.

Status: finished

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Carried out with means of the Federal Republic of Germany (Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance – BBK, Bonn).


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Population behaviour and possibilities of crisis and disaster management in multicultural societies

Object of the research project are international experiences concerning the behaviour of multicultural populations in disaster and catastrophe situations. The international literature related to relevant questions of disaster preparedness, disaster management, risk and crisis communication, crisis management and disaster culture have been checked supported by suitable criteria. Questions are taken into account as they arise, when aspects of ethnic and cultural minorities and of multiculturalism are included. Moreover, questions of the connection between ethnicity and social inequality are dealt with.

Another essential object of research is long-term re-relaxation (recovery) after catastrophes. Trauma research and the concept of the Accidental Communities of memory are taken into account. Legends of crowd panic and looting are disproved as socially improbable. In the face of terrorist situations of danger and the questions due to the Stabsrahmenübung LÜKEX results from literature concerning population behaviour at terrorist attacks are also included.

With an underlying culture anthropological model typical patterns beginning with the onset of disaster until recovery and rebuilding including potential and expected conflicts are lined out. The results are analysed, systematized and condensed in a concept (sociological and cultural based) showing new ways and choices of action to crisis and disaster management. Nevertheless: Related to Germany and Western Europe a broad research gap must be noticed in all essential questions. Particularly in Germany the backlog related to questions of the connection of ethnic and cultural diversity and catastrophe in all phases and aspects is high.

Finally the scientific fundaments and results as well as selected recommendations and approaches concerning prognosis and structuring of population behaviour are summarized compactly. The relevance of the presented concept for teaching and practice of crisis and disaster management as well as for future social and culture scientific research is related to its power to unlock insight, knowledge and options for action and is clarified with recommendations won on this basis.

Status: finished

Results are published

Elke M. Geenen, Bevölkerungsverhalten und Möglichkeiten des Krisenmanagements und Katastrophenmanagements in multikulturellen Gesellschaften. Herausgegeben vom Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe (BBK) in Bonn, FiB Bd. 11, Bonn 2010.
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and introduced and discussed on meetings (see here).

Carried out with means of the Federal Republic of Germany (Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance – BBK, Bonn).


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ISOKIA Science





Institute for Socioeconomic and Cultural International Analysis
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