Roles and experiences of non-governmental organisations in wildfire response and recovery

Rebecca K. Miller, Katharine J. Mach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play critical roles in providing immediate relief resources and long-term recovery support for communities after a disaster. Drawing on interviews with NGO representatives involved in three Northern California wildfires in 2017 and 2018, this study identifies challenges and opportunities for NGOs supporting wildfire relief and recovery. Across fires and NGOs, NGO management and wellbeing, coordination and disaster experiences emerge as common barriers and enablers of relief and recovery. In many cases, local NGOs' participation in wildfire relief and recovery included simultaneous expansion of an organisation's mission and activities and negative impacts on staff mental health. Under the rapidly evolving circumstances of relief and the prolonged burdens of recovery, personal relationships across NGOs and government agencies significantly improved coordination of assistance to communities. Finally, interviewees expressed greater confidence when responding to wildfires if they had previous experience with a disaster, although the COVID-19 pandemic presented distinct challenges on top of pre-existing long-term recovery work. Despite repeated assertions that interviewees' experiences reflected only their individual community or wildfire, key challenges and opportunities were consistent across disasters. These results may aid other NGOs in preparing to provide immediate disaster relief and long-term recovery in California and other wildfire-prone areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • California
  • disaster recovery
  • disaster relief
  • NGO
  • non-governmental organisation
  • non-profit organisation
  • resilience
  • wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology

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