Thursday, January 15, 2015

Disaster Management: Emergency Situation Stakeholders

Who are stakeholders in emergency situations?

A stakeholder is any individual, organisation or group with a vested interest in the outcome of an emergency situation and the success of the designated response.  These include:
  • Government (local, state, national)
  • Citizens and other civilians (temporary residents, tourists, migrant workers and employees in the area)
  • Emergency services (fire fighters, police, paramedics, etc)
  • Medical personnel
  • Health experts and logisticians
  • Community and special interest groups
  • Business owners and operators
  • Home owners
  • Community leaders
  • Service and resource providers (food suppliers, etc)
  • Utility providers (water, electricity, etc)
  • Waste removal companies and professionals
  • School staff
  • Managers of facilities and infrastructure
  • Organisations (local and international, non-governmental, not-for-profit, etc)
  • Military factions
  • Media (radio, television, news and social media outlets)
  • Communication companies (internet and phone providers)
(Emergency Management Australia 2004; Woombalah festival n.d.)

I decided to consider the current Ebola crisis in West Africa to examine the interests of certain stakeholders as well as the information that would be of interest to them at various stages in the emergency and how communication should take place.

While cases have been reported in various countries around the world, transmission has been relatively contained in the West African region.  Developed countries have been able to respond quickly to their potential cases and enact quarantine procedures, thereby limiting the potential spread of the disease within their borders.  Unfortunately, the political, social, economic, natural and overall health situations in West Africa have severely compromised the ability of stakeholders to invest in and mobilise resources for emergency prevention, preparation, response and recovery.   With struggling economies, crippled health infrastructure, poor levels of public education and a lack of political will and accountability, the spread of Ebola in the most affected countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea) has become nearly (or perhaps entirely) impossible to control.  The large number of isolated communities, lack of accurate population data and gaps in information and surveillance systems has also complicated disaster prevention and management.  Accurate and timely information between stakeholders is difficult, especially when the general public is the target audience.  Official warning systems and awareness campaigns transmitting important key messages must compete with cultural norms, traditions and beliefs as well as the spread of incorrect information through informal channels (the rumour mill).  The spread of Ebola in West Africa is truly contributing to a vicious cycle in which the prevalence of disease is further damaging economies that were already fragile (which is why they were vulnerable to the epidemic to begin with).  This damage makes it even more difficult for the countries themselves to respond to that and other disasters and ultimately recover.


Emergency Management Australia 2004, Emergency Risk Management Application Guide, Manual 5, Commonwealth of Australia, viewed 14 January 2015, <>.

Woombalah festival n.d., Emergency risk management stakeholders, viewed 14 January 2015, <>.


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