Knowledge Practices, Participation And Accountability In Disaster Governance

Keywords: knowledge practices; participation; accountability; disaster governance

Knowledge practices underpin the decisions that shape disaster governance. How disaster information is acquired, processed, stored, shared and presented influences decision making and, hence, the effectiveness of disaster policies and practices. This panel explores how disaster organizations and communities acquire knowledge about hazards, unfolding crises, and post-disaster recovery settings and services. In this context, the panel looks specifically at participation and accountability. In recent years, a combination of globally-induced, state-mandated and civil society-led initiatives has emerged that aim to increase community participation in disaster knowledge practices and strengthen accountability within disaster management, especially downward accountability to affected populations. Many of these initiatives are based around applications of the internet and mobile phones.

This panel is intended as an opportunity to discuss practice-based, empirical and theoretical work in the field of knowledge practices, participation and accountability. The aim of this panel is to bring scholars and practitioners together from different disciplinary, professional and methodological backgrounds so as to enable the exchange of ideas and stimulate future research and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Panel topics:

  • Participatory knowledge practices in disaster management – for example the use of community generated information by formal disaster managers; the potential role of local actors in building sustainable and accountable disaster information mechanisms; the creation of information feedback loops between communities and authorities; the institutional structures and mechanisms that enable or limit participatory knowledge practices; and the role of information technology in the above.
  • The interplay between accountability and knowledge practices – for example how knowledge practices shape accountability within disaster governance; or vice versa how knowledge practices are affected by accountability requirements (i.e. upward to donors and governments – and downward to disaster hit or disaster prone communities); the role of expertise in knowledge practices and how this links with accountability and participation; how accountability, knowledge practices and digital information systems are influenced by a multi-sectoral disaster context; and the role of information technology in the above.
  • Information activism and civic engagement towards accountable disaster governance, e.g. open data, transparency and watchdog initiatives; social entrepreneurialism and innovation (such as crowdfunding ideas for disaster and crises management); or the role of technology in enabling the above, including the role of digital technologies in enabling more de-centralized disaster solutions especially in humanitarian crises (mobile cash-based assistance, online help platforms, mass communication tools)
  • The role of ‘global’ in disaster and crises management; how does the global nature of disaster and crises (with organisations responsible for numerous crises across the globe) affect the organisation’s capacity to be accountable for each crises), what values underpin global construction and circulation of knowledge and accountability practices and how they compare or contrast with local practices; how can knowledge practices enable the sharing of information and expertise across these geographically stretched disasters and crises (e.g. Online Best Practice Platforms)
  • The role of ‘context’; what forms of socio-political or institutional factors facilitate or impede implementation of tools and technologies of knowledge management and accountability practices and what forms of theoretical and methodological innovation are required to account for such contexts.



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Panel chairs

Pranav Budhathoki is founder and chief executive officer of the Local Interventions Group, applying affordable innovations and civic tools to enhance government’s service delivery and empower the poorest citizens’ access to governments. He set up the nonprofit with a conviction that harnessing the ingenuity of the affected locals using available tools, not increasing aid dollars, solves society’s gravest problems (including natural disasters).

Nimesh Dhungana is a PhD researcher based at the Methodology Department of the London School of Economics. His research focuses on the practices and politics of social accountability within Nepal’s post-earthquake recovery efforts. His interests include global governance in disaster and development contexts; the accountability movement in the Global South; and the surge of the global movement for monitoring and measuring aid and evidence based development planning.

Corinna Frey is a PhD researcher at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School working at the intersection of management and international crises. She has a specific interest in knowledge and accountability practices as well as (digital) innovation in the context of global humanitarian crises and disasters. In her work she mainly draws on Organisational Theory including Practice Theory and Pragmatism.

Femke Mulder [corresponding panel chair] is a PhD researcher at VU University Amsterdam focusing on information technology, social networks and knowledge management in humanitarian disasters. She is a member of the NWO Smart Disaster Governance research team, based at the department of Organization Sciences. Her areas of expertise are community participation and innovation in disaster management. Femke can be contacted at

Kenny Meesters is a PhD researcher based at TU Delft. In his research Kenny focusses on the role of information and ICT in crisis situations and disaster responses, such as the use of community generated information in their decision making processes. Specifically, Kenny looks into how information can be used to bridge gaps between affected communities, responding organizations and spontaneous volunteers.