The role of local government in emergency recovery

A case study of the Waimakariri District Council’s post-earthquake Community-based Recovery Framework.

The Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference 2013 wishes to thank Dr Suzanne Vallance, Senior Lecturer, Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand, who presented at the last conference held 28-30 May at the Mercure Brisbane.

Based on a case study of the Waimakariri District Council’s Community-based Recovery Framework, her paper identified some key elements underpinning the success of local authorities as recovery agents.

Firstly, Dr Vallance looked into whether local authorities are well-placed to play a key role based on their relationships with communities and local knowledge; people’s expectations; local government’s legislative mandate; their resources and decision-making authority; their ability to liaise with (engage/engage with) both communities and other agents/agencies; and their pre-existing integrative framework of needs assessment and service provision.

Secondly, Dr Vallance discussed that although local authorities are well-placed to undertake recovery work, legislated responsibilities can be unclear. This allows for flexibility, which is appropriate, but can also lead to vastly different approaches and failed expectations; councils vary in their willingness, capability and capacity to do such work. I conclude that in clarifying local government’s role in recovery there is a need for guidance around key success factors, some of which are well-illustrated in the Waimakariri District Council case study.

Podcasts are available of the presentations at the 2013 Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference, including Dr Vallance’s session, by clicking here.