Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Shahla F. Ali


Recent experience reminds us the United States is anything but immune to the effects of major natural disasters; in 2012 Hurricane Sandy demolished the entire eastern seaboard, impacted 24 states and caused $50 billion to $68 billion of damage. As natural disasters occur with increasing frequency, there is growing interest and scholarship in disaster relief governance. Empirical researth regarding the mechanisms of post-disaster local governance is therefore timely given the scale and magnitude of suffering involved. The findings presented in this article driw on the attitudes and perceptions of practitioners working in disaster response fields to provide us with insights into the dynamics, challenges and lessons learned from the perspective of those directly engaged in the work of post-disaster relief. The principal finding of this paper, based on survey data and follow-up questions with 96 humanitarian aid practitioners, is that there is a statistically significant correlation between the level of "peer" engagement with local residents and the perceived effectiveness of response. In-depth knowledge about the elements of post-disaster humanitarian aid coordination efforts will be essential to understanding the role of states, transnational governance and legal networks, and global nonstate actors in order contribute to effective post-disaster responses. Such insights will be particularly useful, as states and organizations increasingly implement and coordinate relief efforts with civil society participants.