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Disaster management in China and Taiwan: Models, policies, and programs


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Article · June 2011

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Disaster Management in China and Taiwan: Models,
Policies and Programs for Social Recovery1
Ngoh Tiong TAN, Yunong HUANG & Lihrong WANG
SIM University, Singapore; South West University of Finance & Economics, China;
National Taiwan University, Taiwan

Abstract: This article compares the approaches to the management of natural disaster
between China and Taiwan. Though the population in the two countries are from the same
general Chinese stock, the two countries differ vastly in their political and social structures.
Five issues related to natural disaster management in China and Taiwan were examined.
They include different types of disasters encountered, different legislations and policies for
disaster management, agencies involved and lead agency in coordination, role of NGOs and
other community organizations, and evaluation of effectiveness of the response structures and
operations. Recommendations for improving disaster management for both Taiwan and
China were discussed.

Keywords: Asia, disaster management, models, social recovery

Introduction
Disasters, whether natural or man-made, can strike anytime, anywhere. They can take various
forms such as typhoons, earthquakes, floods, mudslides and avalanches. Besides other natural
disasters such as epidemics there are man-made disasters like buildings and roads collapsing,
air crashes as well as possible hazardous material concerns and terrorist attacks. The disasters
referred to in this article are primarily natural disasters.

The East Asian countries have recently awoken to the need for strategic planning, policy and
programme development for disaster management and social recovery. There are often
economic, legal and social implications of disasters. A consistent and equitable approach to
disaster is often not easy as each disaster is different and unique. At the end the day the role
of government and of society, as in disasters, crises or emergencies, is to protect lives and
property such as homes, workplaces, and communities, as well as enhance the quality of life
and well-being of the citizens and society at large.

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Paper submitted for publication to Journal of Global Social Work Practice, Jan 2011.

1
This article is part of the research project on disaster management in Asia. We will examine
Taiwan and China‟s disaster management models in this paper and discuss their implications
for Asian countries. China and Taiwan have, in recent years, experienced more than their fair
share of disasters, especially in the 912 earthquake and flooding in Taiwan, and the Sichuan
earthquake and floods in Southern China. They have different political and social structures
but have essentially same ethnic stock. This allows us to examine the contexts important in
disaster management especially from the recent data on the countries differing responses and
intervention in natural disasters.

Models of Disaster Management and Research Framework


Disaster management theory
The theory of disaster management includes the definition and the process of disaster
recovery. Disaster management may be defined as the systematic process of policy and
administration, organization and capacities and resources to deal effectively with the impacts
of natural hazards as well as other man-made disasters. This includes both structural and non-
structural measures to prevent or to limit and reduce the adverse effects of hazards, and to
provide relief or recovery after the disaster (Tan, 2009; UNISDR, 2010).

Disaster management has evolved as an interdisciplinary science and practice that includes
the fields of administration, engineering, architecture, psychology and social work. Effective
disaster management involves the integration of emergency response efforts at all levels of
government, non-government, and community involvement (Ronald, Kettl, & Kunreuther,
2006). The responsibility of disaster management lies with the government, as well as with
civil society, and social workers are found in both of the sectors of society.

The social and cultural resources of a community are vital for disaster recovery and the
rebuilding of social networks. The strengths‟ model accentuates the abilities of the
community and adopt a more holistic approach (Tan, 2009) to recovery. In terms of the
approaches to disaster management, capacity building or the development of institutional,
political and community resources, at different levels and sectors of the society, are vital
(Dynes, 2008).

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The disaster process, from prevention and mitigation as well as the mobilization and response;
recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation should all take into consideration the local
contexts, capacities and resources (Yodmani, 2001). Disaster relief and recovery logically is
also dependent on the types of hazards and disasters.

Disaster management models in different countries

Many countries, such as Australia and the USA, have formed federal coordinating bodies for
management of disasters and emergencies. In Australia, the Emergency Management
Australia and in the USA, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA, 2011) are the
key national organizations for disaster management. Parallel to these national organizations,
there are also provincial or state emergency services that support the efforts of federal
agencies ensuring national security and safety of the citizens. Various levels of government,
community groups and the private sector, as well as international groups, may be involved
with the disaster management efforts. Local fire departments or civil defence agencies, local
community groups and NGOs as well as INGOs (like the Red Cross) are part of the vast
network for disaster rescue and rehabilitation. For the USA, the Citizen Corps, for example,
organizes volunteers to assist in preparing the community for “emergency response through
public education, training, and outreach service programs” (Citizen Corp, 2011). It is a
grassroots strategy to bring together government and community leaders and involve the
citizens in disasters. .Although this program is administered locally, it is directed by the
federal Department of Human Services.

In recent years there has been a shift in emphasis, from remedial relief and response to
strategic risk management and reduction planning. There is also a marked change from a
government-led approach to more civil society involvements and decentralized community
participations. More research and knowledge, as well as training and focus on procedures and
processes for dealing with emergencies and disasters, have developed. For example, New
Zealand adopts the 4Rs approach to disaster management (Ministry of Civil Defence and
Emergency Management, 2006): Reduction, Readiness, Response and Recovery. The
responsibility for emergency management shifts from local to national organizations in
accordance with the magnitude and nature of the disaster.

In many countries there has been an increase in the formulation of laws and regulations in the
area of disaster relief and management. After the 911 incident, the Homeland Security Act,
with its far reaching policies and intrusive procedures, was introduced in the USA.
Legislations such as the Civil Contingencies Act (CCA, 2004) have been introduced in
response to crises “which legislated the responsibilities of all category one responders
regarding an emergency response”, in UK. Again, the legislations mandated and enabled
different levels of government and society to be involved with regional forums as well as the
activities of the local authority.

Many international organizations like Doctors Without Borders, have arisen to deal with

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cross border rescue and relief in disasters. At the United Nations, international response is
coordinated by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, if requested by the
affected country‟s government, by the UN (UN-OCHA, 2011), by deploying a UN Disaster
Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team. OCHA's mission is to coordinate
humanitarian action in partnership with national and international parties during disasters and
emergencies (UN-OCHA, 2011).

Any government has three basic strategies that can be mixed and matched for disaster
management and recovery. To create the desired policy action and effective programmes in
disaster management, governments need to establish effective links to individuals and
organizations, local, state wide, federal as well as international, that are engaged in
emergency and recovery activities.

The strategies government and society taken together, is the model for governmental and
NGOS network response in disaster management and social recovery. Besides emergency
operation, the rebuilding and recovery phase requires even more arduous coordination and
action networks. The response is necessarily inter-organizational and interdisciplinary in
nature and scope, and requires the skilful manoeuvrings of the complex network of
jurisdictional levels of government city, state, federal and private sectors as well as other
international collaborators (Tan, 2009).

Model of disaster management


For the different types of disasters encountered, the model should address administrative
procedures such as policy and legislations as well as institutional support and resources to
deal with them. The operational aspects include coordination between government and non-
government groups in the implementation of the recovery and rebuilding work. The roles and
functions of the various agencies or organizations involved in disaster response and recovery
are identified. Research on the various disaster responses by both government and civil
society is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the disaster intervention.

This research project seeks to addresses the problems associated with disaster management
and recovery. The model of disaster management and recovery will be mapped out for the
Taiwan and China using the framework below.

The research framework

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The research process would largely involve secondary data collection and meta-research of
reports and documents existing in the various countries and is being carried out. Interviews
with key government, NGO and community leaders and meetings with the collaborators to
finalize the reports are conducted for this research project.

The following cross-national framework used in this analysis:


1. Different types of disasters encountered.
2. Different legislations and policies for disaster management.
3. Various agencies involved and lead agency in coordination – federal organizations,
regional and local structures for emergency response and recovery.
4. Role of NGOs and other community organizations.
5. Evaluation of effectiveness of the response structure and operations.

Results
Different types of disasters encountered
Both China and Taiwan are susceptible to earthquake, typhoons and flooding. Because of
dense populations the magnitude of loss in lives and property appear to be more severe in
China than in Taiwan.

China
China has suffered from most types of natural disasters including meteorological, geological,
and biological disasters as well as forest and grassland fires. According to the first white
paper on disaster relief issued by the Information Office of China‟s State Council on 11 May
2009, more than 70 percent of Chinese cities and more than 50 percent of the Chinese
population are located in areas vulnerable to serious earthquakes, or meteorological,
geological or marine disasters (The State Council, 2009). It was estimated that natural
disasters affected about 300 million people, destroyed more than three million buildings, and
forced the evacuation of more than nine million people on annual average from 1990 to 2008
(The State Council, 2009).

Taiwan
Taiwan is located in a strongly oblique zone between the converging Eurasian Plate and the
Philippine Sea Plate. This area is responsible for 16,000 to 18,000 detectable earthquakes in
Taiwan each year. Taiwan experienced its deadliest earthquake in five decades on Sept. 21,

5
1999, when a 7.3 magnitude tremor struck central Taiwan, killing some 2,400 people, leaving
more than 10,000 injured, and causing immeasurable damage to property and infrastructure
(The China Post, 2009). In addition, since most of the mountain regions in Taiwan are
sedimentary and metamorphic rocks which are fragile and highly weathered. There were 350
typhoons and more than one thousand storms in the past 101 years. Typhoon Morakot, in
08.08.2009 brought disaster with 117 people confirmed dead, 59 missing and 45 injured (The
China Post, 2009; Water Resource Agency, 2009). Besides earthquakes and typhoons, flood is
also a major natural hazard in Taiwan (Chen et al., 2006).

Different legislations and policies for disaster management


Different nations have developed legislations to deal with disasters. These legislations govern
the rescue, relief and recovery efforts and provide resources as well as institutional structures
to guide the process of disaster management.

China
Since the 1990‟s, a number of laws and regulations has been enacted to provide the legal
basis for emergency management system and ensure its operations in China. Some of the
laws, regulations, and plans for natural disaster reduction, relief, and recovery of the People‟s
Republic of China, are highlighted below.

Laws (by the Standing Committee of the National People‟s Congress of PRC*)
 Law of PRC on Protection Against and Mitigation of Earthquake Disasters (adopted in
1997)
 Flood Control Law of PRC (adopted in 1997)
 Meteorology Law of PRC (adopted in 1999)
 Law of PRC on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases (adopted in 1989
and amended in 2004)
 The Emergency Response Law of PRC (adopted in 2007)
 Fire Control Law of PRC (adopted in 1998 and amended in 2008)

Regulations (by the State Council)


 Flood Control Regulations of PRC (adopted in 1991 and amended in 2005)

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 Regulations on the Prevention and Control of Geological Disasters (adopted in 2003)
 Regulations on Handling Major Animal Epidemic Emergencies (adopted in 2005)
 Regulations on the Handling of Destructive Earthquake Emergencies (adopted in 2005) \
 Regulations on Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Restoration and Reconstruction (adopted in
2008)
 Drought Control Regulations of PRC (adopted in 2009)

Plans (by the State Council)


 The Disaster Reduction Plan of PRC (1998-2010) (issued in 1998)
 The General State Emergency Response Plan for Unexpected Public Emergencies (issued
in 2005)
 The State Emergency Relief Plan for Natural Disasters (issued in 2006)
 The State Emergency Plan for Earthquakes (issued in 2006)
 The National 11th Five-year Plan on Comprehensive Disaster Reduction (issued in 2007)

The plans are generally off-shoot of the laws and provide concrete means and resources of
disaster intervention.

Taiwan
Taiwan‟s disaster management policy can be traced back to 1965 when the Taiwan provincial
government promulgated the Standard Procedure for Natural Disaster Assistance (SPNDA)
after the 1964 Paiho Earthquake (Chen et al., 2006). SPNDA was revised four times during
1965 to 1994. In August 1994, Taiwan promulgated National Hazard Mitigation Program
(NHMP). Three related policies were also implemented for the operation of NHMP. They
were: Disaster Prevention and Response Basic Plan (DPRBP), the Disaster Prevention and
Response Operational Plans (DPROPs), and the Local Disaster Prevention and Response
Plans (LDPRPs). In 2000, the Disaster Prevention and Response Act (DPRA) was
promulgated and both SPNDA and NHMP were suspended. DPRA is the first disaster
management related fundamental law in Taiwan (Chen et al., 2006).

There is also a Special Act on the role of the government in disaster. For example, “9.21
Earthquake Rescue Special Act” on February 3rd, 2000 were enacted for the rescue, relief and
reconstruction after the 9.21 earthquake. The recovery and reconstruction of the Morakot

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disaster saw the Morakot Typhoon Post-Disaster Reconstruction Special Act approved by
Congress on August 28, 2009. The Act was an amendment to the "Disaster Prevention and
Protection Law". The budget for the reconstruction plan was NT$120 billion and was
declared by the President on Nov. 20, 2009.

There are four main policy domains concerning the Typhoon Morakot disaster recovery and
these were implemented by the main sub-ministries:
(1) Regional/community reconstruction plan, mainly conducted and implemented by the
Council for Economic Planning and Development, Executive Yuan.
(2) Facility reconstruction plan mainly conducted and implemented by the Ministry of
Transportation and Communication, Executive Yuan.
(3) Industrial reconstruction plan mainly conducted and implemented by the Council for
Economic Planning and Development.
(4) Homeland reconstruction plan mainly conducted and implemented by the Ministry of
Interior and the Council for Cultural Affairs Committee (Executive Yuan, 2010).

In Taiwan, legislation and planning are the result of special disasters that occurred. The
reconstruction plan is developed for various levels of government: the county/city
government and are implemented by the city/county reconstruction committee. The local
government takes direction from the central government. In China too, the central
government, through the People‟s Congress or State Council, provides the key direction and
policy guide.

Various agencies involved and lead agency in coordination


There is always a multitude of organisations participating in disaster relief or recovery. The
types of agencies involved depend on the state of development of the various voluntary and
government organisations.

China
According to the Emergency Response Law of the PRC and the first white paper on disaster
relief issued by the Information Office of the State Council on 11 May 2009 (the State
Council, 2009), China‟s emergency management system is characterized by central
leadership, departmental responsibility, and disaster administration at different levels with
major responsibility resting with local authorities. The State Council provides the leadership

8
for disaster reduction and relief work. There are departments responsible for disaster
reduction and relief work in the State Council, such as the National Disaster Reduction
Committee, State Earthquake Control and Rescue Headquarters, and National Disaster
Control and Relief Coordination Office. Local governments also set up corresponding
coordination offices to handle disaster reduction and relief work. The People's Liberation
Army, the armed police, militia reservists, and policemen often act as task forces in disaster
relief work. Furthermore, social groups, NGOs, and volunteers join the effort of disaster
reduction and relief work.

Taiwan
In Taiwan, whenever there is a need for disaster management, the central government and
local government collaborate together to deal with the difficulty and sufferings of the people.
The Central government takes the lead to initiate all special needs and promulgate special law
and plans to deal with the crisis. The Central government is the core agency with plans for
the ”921 Post-Disaster Reconstruction Council, Executive Yuan” (Ou, 2010).

Under the governmental disaster management plan, there is labor division in the
reconstruction work. The “division of labor” of the reconstruction plan vis a vis the central
government (Executive Yuan, 2010) which includes:
1. Drafting the home reconstruction plan;
2. Planning policy and strategy development;
3. Preparing the budget; and
4. Coordinating the central implementation.

The city-county governments‟ role are:


1. Drafting the city/country‟s home reconstruction plan;
2. Implementation of the home reconstruction; and
3. City/county government‟s local coordination.

China relies predominantly on the state machinery and resources in the recue as well as
recovery efforts. In Taiwan, although the lead agency is the central government or executive
Yuan, there is greater decentralization, to the city and county governments, as far as
implementation of plan and coordination of efforts. In the next section we will also find that
Taiwan has a more developed civil society that respond effectively to disaster relief and

9
recovery.
Role of NGOs and other community organizations
Generally, rescue and relief operations in disaster management rely on civil society and
community participation. The role of NGOs and other community groups is thus vital to
active and effective recovery.

China
According to the research covering 149 NGOs that provide services in Wenchuan
Earthquake-affected areas by DCASP & SWUFE (2009), the activities and the percentage of
NGOs that involved in the activities in late July and early August 2009 are shown in Table 1.
Table 1. NGOs‟ involvement in earthquake assistance
Activities % (N=149)
Providing services to children (primary school students or younger) 60.4
Providing services to the youth (middle school students or older) 53.0
Visiting and consoling 51.7
Psychological counselling 51.0
Organizing donation activities 45.6
Providing services to the elderly 43.0
Investigating disaster information 42.3
Training services 36.9
Providing service to women 34.9
Delivering donated money or goods 32.9
Providing assistance to the wounded or the disabled 27.5
Mediating family or neighbourhood relationships 26.8
Medical services 26.8
Emergency settlement 24.8
Providing employment counselling or training 21.5
Community economic development 20.1
Environment protection 19.5
Building or repairing houses 16.8
School reconstruction 16.1
Handling the matters related to victims 10.1
Others 6.0

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The key activities of the NGOs providing assistance to affected communities are services to
children and youth, visiting and counseling. It should be noted that China‟s overall NGO
sector is weak. The NGO sphere has begun to emerge only in recent years (Yan et al., 2007).
The 5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake promoted the emergence of many new NGOs and
community groups that provide services to disaster-affected people. These organizations and
groups, together with state services, were useful towards social recovery and reconstruction.

Taiwan
NGOs and INGOs are extremely supportive and influential in dealing with the rescue and
recovery in Taiwan. Functions of NGOs include the building of the prefabricated houses,
allocating and settling into the houses, and operating and managing of the community
empowerment facility. For instance, about 1,000 of prefabricated houses were built by the
Taiwan Red Cross Society, more 1,200 transitional housing built by Tzu Chi Charity
Foundation, and World Vision in the Marakot disaster (Tzu Chi Foundation, 2010). The
public facility and playground or hall in the villages of prefabricated houses were designed
and built by NGOs.

Another role of NGO is that of coordinating the financial and material donation to the
relevant NGOs. The NGOs also provide training to empower the workers to give quality
service to vulnerable groups. NGOs have recognized the need of integration of service so that
they are organized as a platform to share information and resources. More than 117 NGO
groups have developed programs responding to disasters. These agencies/organizations have
collaborated together with the government (Fu, 2010).

In Taiwan, the contribution of the NGOs in rescue and reconstruction after disaster is vital
and invaluable, whereas in China, the NGOs role is rather limited, firstly because there are
fewer NGOs and secondly, the NGOs generally lack resources and authority to intervene.
The capability of the NGO sector in China needs to be strengthened.

Evaluation of effectiveness of the response structure and operations


Which of the two countries is more effective in the response structures for disaster
management? The following evaluation of the disaster management practices in Taiwan and
China is qualitative and anecdotal in nature.

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China
Although China‟s emergency management system seems comprehensive, its effectiveness of
the response needs to be strengthened. As an illustration, after 30 hours of the 5.12 Wenchuan
Earthquake, only a small group of military personnel reached Wenchuan county. The
professional rescue teams were not able to reach the severely earthquake-affected areas to
conduct their work immediately after the earthquake. There is a need to train local groups for
ground rescue and emergency response. However, few empirical studies were conducted to
examine the effectiveness of response structure and operations of emergency system in China.

Taiwan
Coordination in the government rescue departments is always a big problem in Taiwan. It is
suggested that ministries, commissions and bureaus should send their officials to work
regularly at the Central Disaster Prevention and Response Council so as to enhance inter-
agency coordination. In the central government, a special commission should also be set up to
conduct investigations and evaluation after each major disaster. This establishes a mechanism
to pass on management and experience in disaster responses (Taiwan Today News, 2010).

In Taiwan it helps to have better collaboration between NGOs and the government. As have
been observed, the „Monitoring Yuan‟ in the central government has focused on effectiveness
and efficiency of the disaster management. review of the government‟s operation and policy,
including planning, and implementation processes, are in order. In China

Discussions
For discussion we will consider the roles of the government and NGOs in disaster
management, the training and development needs as well as the need for integration and
coordination of services and programs in disaster management.

NGO and government’s roles


In China‟s post-Wenchuan Earthquake recovery, the local officials as well as the earthquake
victims‟ perceptions of NGOs‟ participation was that the NGOs play various key roles in
post-disaster recovery (DCASP & SWUFE, 2009). They contribute to supporting the
vulnerable groups such as children, helping prepare organizations for response to the victims,
providing therapeutic interventions, improving the community and addressing unmet needs of

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the victims of earthquake.

In terms of the perceptions of what would make an effective model for post-disaster services,
the analyses of the interviews of NGOs‟ staff members working in Wenchuan Earthquake-
affected areas yielded four major themes (DCASP & SWUFE, 2009). The first theme
emphasized the coordination and cooperation among government, NGOs, and local people.
The second theme focused on community work. The third theme emphasized the importance
of coordination among different professionals. The fourth theme was about the government
contracting for purchase of social services. For example, one of staff member interviewed in
the study indicated, “The best service model is the implementation of government contracting
for purchase of social services and to establish independent local social service agencies to
carry out various social services.” Various government bodies, from the local to the regional
and national, are involved with disaster management and laws and regulations which have
empowered the government institutions to act, especially in post-disaster situations and
emergencies. Indeed coordination and collaboration of the government‟s efforts,
supplemented by the NGOs intervention, will enhance the effectiveness of the disaster
management (Drabek, 2006). Government purchase of services, as a „Western‟ model,
however, may not be so readily acceptable to the government of China at this time.

In China regarding the local people‟s perceptions of NGOs‟ involvement in Wenchuan


Earthquake recovery, the study by DCASP & SWUFE (2009) indicated that local people
generally associate NGO staff members with good attitudes and NGOs‟ services as helpful to
the local people. However, a few problems about NGOs‟ services were also identified in the
meetings with service providers. The first problem was the lack of training among some
NGO staff members. The second problem was the high mobility of the some NGO staff
members. The third problem was the low service coverage of NGOs. While many people
needed their services the NGOs could only provide limited services to some people. Some
NGOs lacked sound communication with governments and some did not understand complex
local situations. These problems need to be addressed by NGOs as well as policy makers in
China to enhance the role of NGOs and harness their resources.

In the Wenchuan Earthquake recovery, the Chinese central government‟s policies mainly
focused on physical recovery. As an illustration, of the fifteen chapters about recovery in the
State Overall Planning for the Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Restoration and Reconstruction

13
(the State Council, 2008), only the chapter twelve on the „spiritual homeland‟ mentioned
psychological and spiritual recovery which social workers could involved in (Liu, 2009).
There was not any mention of social recovery, such as rebuilding social relationships or
restoring social functions, in the document. In addition, an address on the ten important issues
that the Chinese government focused on regarding the Wenchuan Earthquake recovery by
Premier Wen Jiabao revealed that ensuring social cohesion and stability was the last of the
priorities mentioned (General Office of the State Council, 2009). Local governments‟ policies
for the Wenchuan Earthquake recovery were largely based on the opinions, rules, and
regulations set by the central government (Deng et al., 2009; Huang et al., 2009).

In Taiwan, within the four main reconstruction plan, the disaster-hit county, city government
can draft the reconstruction plan and the plans could be implemented by the local
reconstruction committee. The city or county reconstruction plan should be in line with the
central government‟s main plain and policy guidelines. With these plans the central
government systematically provides key resources for disaster and recovery for local rescue
and reconstruction.

At the rescue stage, temporary accommodation or transitional shelter is very crucial for the
security of the victim. The uniqueness in Taiwan is that although the central government
supervises the local government to achieve the goal of arranging accommodation for victims.
Mostly the local government follow the programs developed by the NGOs. This is because
NGOs have greater administrative and financial flexibility and are more responsive to the
needs of the vulnerable groups. In Taiwan it is not easy to obtain a consensus in the
government for a consistent government action in disaster due to the many party factions in
the political structure of the country.

Cultural sensitivity in rehabilitation


In Taiwan, the Council for Economic Planning and Development and the Council of
Indigenous Peoples handle the whole process of access and the safety of the original
settlement of the indigenous peoples. In this country although the local inhabitants are invited
to collaborate on the assessment for re-settlement, it is said that new permanent housing is
full of „images of development‟ are seldom „comprehended by the locals‟. The needs of the
indigenous people have been neglected in this process.

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The weakness of the above approach includes the following: (Wang, 2010)
1. Ignorance of the local people on what is „modernity‟ and “appropriateness” as applied to
the reality;
2. While the images are created, culturally deep-rooted thinking processes may remain
unchanged;
3. Lack of education, leading to the local people being not conscious of their assets
(resources), rights and duties;
4. Inability of the local people to afford and sustain whatever is perceived as „modern‟. It is
criticised that most of these settlements are relocated without consideration to the
traditional livelihoods and ecological relationships (Wang, 2010).

It was found that, in the above situation, relocation and total reconstruction was adopted as
the main rehabilitation strategy. However, up till recently villagers still place high cultural
and functional value on their old village sites. The relocated villages where new government-
designed contractor built houses were provided have been set aside from the original village
sites (Wang, 2010). Taiwan is rightly concerned about the permanent housing needs of local
residents affected by disasters and should consider their culture contexts. It is vital to be
inclusive of the indigenous groups and participative in the process empowering locals to
decide for their housing as well as other resettlement and recovery needs. For Taiwan, active
participation is the key on the basis of democratic society climate.

Training needs and problems


Training is essential in disaster rescue and recovery as well as in preparedness and prevention
of disasters.

There is a lack of training in disaster recovery in China. In the field of social work where the
professionals are frequently involved in post-disaster recovery, few studies and experiences
about social work in disasters in mainland China are accumulated. Only very few colleges or
universities provide training for social workers to work with the victims of earthquake. It was
also reported by Bian, et al. (2009) that no university in the province of Sichuan provides
training for social workers to work with the communities affected by nature disasters. In the
year 2010, South West University of Finance and Economics started a class in Disaster
Management and Social Work Practice in the Summer of 2010 that was well received by the
students and community.

15
In Taiwan, NGOs‟ involvement in training and empowering the professional or voluntary
workers to enhance their capability in helping the needy people in disaster has been
impressive. The civil movement has provided a great foundation for civil participation
through the various charities and social programs. This is gap-filler activity in addition to the
government„s provision of training experts and professionals in disaster management.
However, the government in Taiwan needs to train more local volunteers as well as
professionals for prevention and disaster risk reduction. Residents should be trained in
disaster preparedness so that they could first seek self-relief or take shelter to mitigate
casualties before rescue and relief arrive.

Need for integration and effective response structure


It has been frequently argued that effective disaster response and recovery should be based on
partnership, cooperation, and coordination between government agencies at all levels and
between public and non-profit sector agencies (Tan, 2009; Perrow, 2007; Drabek, 2006).
Perhaps China‟s emergency management model could be adapted from the model of central
government domination to the models that emphasize the participation, cooperation and
coordination among central government, local governments, NGOs, and local people.

In Taiwan, many disasters have occurred in aboriginal areas. Disaster areas are mostly
located in mountainous areas and the original place of aboriginal people. From the previous
observation, it becomes clear that disaster recovery and reconstruction assistance programs
lack cultural sensitivity, continuity and compatibility This is certainly a key issue resulting in
increasing disaster vulnerability in post disaster reconstruction, in particular, at the stage of
recovery. In addition, localization of the disaster management and empowerment and greater
autonomy of rescue programs can contribute to a more efficient system of rescue and greater
community resilience.

Asian communities often emphasize the family and community as well as the informal
support networks. It is vital to strengthen the local communities and enhance the resiliency of
the family and the informal network in disaster management. A balance of the government
intervention, with the community self help and support, provides a viable disaster
management model for Asian countries.

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Strengths and weaknesses of disaster management in China and Taiwan
We will discuss both the strengths and negative aspects of disaster management in Taiwan
and China.

Overall, China has a centralized political system. The structure of government agencies is
vertical from central, provincial, to local governments. The authorities at low levels are
subordinated to high levels within the same agency. As a result, the central government has
the power to require and ensure provincial and local governments to provide assistance for
post disaster restoration and reconstruction. For example, on 11 June 2008, the State Council
issued the Paired Assistance Program for Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Restoration and
Reconstruction. Nineteen provinces or municipalities directly under the central government
were assigned to establish one-to-one paired relations with a specific one of the nineteen most
severely earthquake-affected counties. The program requires that the assistance by each
province or municipality should be worth at least one percent of its financial income in the
last fiscal year. The resources committed for the program by the 19 provinces and
municipalities had reached 22.7 billion Chinese Yuan by August 2008 (Xinhua Agency,
10/5/2008) and 34 billion Chinese Yuan by March 2009 (People‟s Daily, 03/12/2009). It was
also reported that the assistance fund provided by the 19 provinces and municipalities would
eventually reach 70 billion Chinese Yuan (Xinhua Agency, 05/4/2009). Furthermore, China‟s
central government controlled the majority of national revenue. In 2008, national revenue
reached 6.13169 trillion Yuan, among which 3.267199 trillion Yuan was collected by the
central government and 2.864491 trillion Yuan by local governments (Ministry of Finance,
2009). Given the centralized political system and the control of the majority of national
revenue by central government in China, central government could mobilize large amounts of
financial and other resources for post-disaster recovery, such as the Wenchuan Earthquake
recovery. This is has greatly facilitated the post-disaster restoration and reconstruction, both
in terms of economic as well social development.

In China, the participation of NGOs in the post-disaster recovery is weak. There is also a lack
of participation of disaster-affected people in China‟s post-disaster recovery. Furthermore,
there is a lack of public evaluation of governments‟ involvement in post-disaster recovery.
The effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability of post-disaster recovery are doubtful. For
example, a report by National Audit Office (Liu, 2010) indicated that a total amount of 5. 82
billion Chinese Yuan for post-Wenchuan Earthquake recovery was illegally used in 2009.

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Overall, the development of NGOs is steadily increasing in Taiwan and this afforded much
societal resources for disaster recovery and management. Taiwan‟s civil society is relatively
well developed and thus citizen‟s participation is higher than China. The empowerment of
NGOs through coalitions has been a very successful way to unite forces in the face of natural
disasters. In addition to the coalition at national level, many community-wide self-help
groups play an influential role in helping community reconstruction through consensus-
building for local organizations and resource allocation. They can effectively facilitate
community reconstruction and community empowerment. The NGOs both at the national or
local levels can together make a huge difference in all the stages of the community recovery,
rescue, reconstruction and mitigation.

Conclusions
Both Taiwan and China face differing yet similar types of disasters from earthquakes to
typhoons and floods. The models in Taiwan and China have both strengths and weaknesses.
There are significant differences in disaster management under national and democratic
governments. If the efficiency of disaster management models is in their ability to harness the
relevant resources, knowledge, and personnel to take appropriate and timely action,
especially under crisis, and within drastic conditions and time pressure, then the China
structures seem to be slightly more effective and have greater resources under the
government‟s control.

Although the disaster prevention and reconstruction are primarily coordinated by the central
government in China, the emphasis is on collaboration and joint cooperation between local
residents, local NGOs, and the administration to mitigate the impact of disasters. In terms of
local responses, with the greater network of NGOs and civic as well as community groups
Taiwan appears to be have a faster response time and longer period of community
involvement in the recovery process.

Most disaster interventions and legislations are reactive and need to be more „proactive‟ in
approach. This is also the case of Taiwan or China. There is a need to focus on the strengths
of the society and community, especially the social networks (Tan, 2009). Disaster prevention
and preparedness are essential strategies to reduce risk and effective coping and recovery.
Reducing the impact of disasters to vulnerable groups is certainly the arena for social work

18
practice (Zakour, 2006; Gillespie, 2008; Tan, 2009).

To conclude, in Taiwan, the government now has shifted its focus to social aspects of
recovery and management from its concentration on hardware development in the past.
However, in mainland China, the governments still focus on hardware development and
needs to pay more attention to social aspects of recovery. Asian countries can learn from the
disaster management approaches and processes in China and Taiwan that are not only vital
for physical rebuilding but will also enhance the social development of the communities
affected by natural disasters.

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