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date: 16 October 2017

Agency Coordination and Cross-Sector Collaboration in Fragile States

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science. Please check back later for the full article.

Fragile states have historically experienced a disproportionate amount of natural disaster-related losses. For example, from 2005 to 2009 more than 50% of those impacted by a natural disaster lived in a fragile state, resulting in over $200 billion in combined losses. Despite myriad descriptions and indicators used to define a fragile state, there is consensus across the international community that a fragile state can be described as lacking the ability to maintain physical control of territorial boundaries, provide basic public services, and facilitate economic growth. When natural disasters occur in such areas, they exacerbate already weak governance structures and further undermine their governments’ capability to respond to the crisis while simultaneously addressing challenges related to poverty and conflict. To remedy these and other complex issues inherent in fragile states, policymakers are beginning to recognize the importance of effective agency coordination and cross-sector collaboration. Agency coordination, in the context of natural disaster response, can be described as the integration of facilities, equipment, personnel, and communication by public agencies for supporting incident response activities. Cross-sector collaboration can be defined as the sharing of information and resources by organizations in two or more sectors to achieve an outcome that cannot be achieved by organizations in one sector alone. Such organizational sectors include government, businesses, nonprofits, communities, and the public. Because forecasts suggest that natural disaster-related losses will only increase in fragile states due to population growth, urbanization, and climate change, there is a pressing need to understand the ways public organizations not only coordinate before, during, and after a natural disaster, but also how they collaborate across organizational sectors.