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European Disasters in Urban centres: a Culture Expert Network (3C – Cities, Cultures, Catastrophes)

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EDUCEN (European Disasters in Urban centres: a Culture Expert Network (3C – Cities, Cultures, Catastrophes))

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2017-04-30

Cultural diversity can be a hindrance but also a help in disaster risk reduction. Cultural differences can bring misunderstandings and frustration, but cultural memory, networks and skills can save lives. In EDUCEN disaster-prone European cities/regions exchange experiences with disaster and culture to learn from each other.

The structure combines:
- horizontal exchange between the 7 cities (Dordrecht, Istanbul, L’Aquila, Lorca, Milan, Umbria, Volos) and transversal themes with a ‘vertical’, task-oriented WP structure
- outside-in supply of information and facilitation from the WPS and inside-out exchange of experiences, stories and lessons learned from the cities.

The city partners organised activities with their network and mobilised our support in grappling with communication with harder-to-reach groups: e.g. physically handicapped people, migrants, the young. This highly interactive approach is the core of the ‘EDUCEN method’.

We developed a toolbox to support the participating cities. They include:
- ‘Serious games’ to enhance cultural empathy.
- Social Network Analysis, to understand the formal and informal “soft infrastructure” that springs into life in a crisis.
- Communication and outreach tools: In locations where disaster does not happen regularly, people’s awareness can be deficient. Museum exhibitions can help jog people’s memory through an exhibition on disaster: earthquake in Volos, flooding in Dordrecht. Disaster educational tools were designed for people with physical challenges in Istanbul.

We delivered a handbook and manuals and tools to help planners and responders deal with culture.

To make sure we learned from each other, multiple learning loops were followed: from the ‘field’ to the consortium, between the consortium partners and from the consortium to those interested outside it. This ‘thick description’ appears to work better than a survey.
Well-attended public Kick-off and Closing Conferences were organised (WP1).

An extensive literature review on the State of the Art on culture, disaster management and cities was carried out and a ‘guiding questions manual’ has been developed to introduce the city cases to the most important topics relating to culture and disaster management. We analysed case histories to understand how history shapes current attitudes to and perceptions of disaster management. We developed a methodology for identifying cultural memory and using it as an asset in DRR (WP2).

We carried out a literature review on social capital and DRR, also to identify the most suitable methods to be implemented in the pilot cities to better comprehend the complexity of the networks of interaction taking place during an emergency in two participant cities, L’Aquila and Lorca, in implementing the Social Network Analysis in order to map and investigate the network of interactions. The analysis allows local decision makers to identify the main weakness of the network of interactions among institutional actors and between the official responders and the local community (WP3).

We built on existing research to explain what culture means in the context of learning processes in DRR. One workshop aimed to generate improved understanding of the role of culture in disaster risk reduction bringing together practitioners and researchers to share experiences and deliberate on some of the emerging insights and findings based on work in case sites. A second workshop focused on the role of gatekeepers and volunteers. We produced synthesis briefs on both (WP4).

We worked with the cities, stakeholders and end-users to analyse the core aspects of interaction between the hard and soft infrastructure in and around disasters which makes cities differentially vulnerable or resilient. We developed methodologies to identify the interactions between hard and soft infrastructure during a crisis with the goal to orient DRR more to the different cultures within a city and make better use of the assets brought by the different cultures (WP 5).

We reviewed existing gaming tools and ways of using them in DRR activities. An annotated list of existing policy exercises, simulations and games was developed to improves disaster preparedness and response actions. New rather than adapted games were created and published online for wide audience for free use. This includes an Evacuation Challenge Game and a Policy Exercise on Flood Management, devised for the Lorca case study in order to make it applicable to other contexts (WP6).

We developed specific activities in the cities participating in EDUCEN consortium, involving local communities and institutions into the application of the methodologies and testing of tools, policy exercises and serious games. We developed an overall Mutual learning design, based on a 3 learning loops process which transfers methods across EDUCEN cities and to cities non participating in the EDUCEN consortium (WP7).

In sum we organized:
* EDUCEN website (
* Workshops
* Social Media Tools (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube also featuring webinars)
* Establishing and strengthening networks and Multi-loop learning
* (Scientific) Publications & Policy briefs
* Promotion and dissemination material (general and for specific audiences such as DRR responders, local governments and policy makers) in the form of e.g. leaflets, booklets and newsletters
* Printed handbook (complementary to online version
Through our ‘learning loops’ contributions to understanding culture and disaster in our pilot cities reaped knock-on effects in other cities and institutions we are actively liaising with.

Our project produced locally relevant support materials (Manuals) at a city level, and precipitate and facilitate the formation of living networks of experts on cultures in disasters encompassing community members and practitioners (Communities of Practice-CoP). A multi-media&printed handbook caters to a wider audience.

The direct involvement of local beneficiaries in EDUCEN activities, such as workshops and games support local disaster preparation and response. The analysis of the differences in information management processes between the institutional system and the community are contributing to reduce the current gaps, facilitating communication in case of disaster. Work has already been done to tackle one of the most important barriers that could hamper the achievement of the EDUCEN impacts: mutual scepticism between local communities and authorities, while supporting commitment within local Communities of Practice.

EDUCEN contributed to developing procedures to document active and latent knowledge of practitioners and communities in relation to culture in disasters through for example the L’Aquila and Lorca studies and their mapping of the flow of information in disasters. The network analysis in L’Aquila has contributed to better understanding the complexity of the formal and informal interceptions taking place during the different phases of Disaster Risk Reduction.

We created a survey of the existing knowledge, practices and tools related to culture in DRR through a global review of both scientific and grey literature, to inform practice. This State of the Art is online and fully open access, with ready-for-use used Guiding Questions.

Materials and tools are available online in various local languages as well as English.
Information for blind people by AKUT (Case Study)
Flood simulation game in Lorca by CRS (WP6)
Learning Loops developed by ICATALIST (WP7)