Cultural Influences on Disaster Management: A Case Study of the Mt. Pinatubo Eruption

August 2004 (VOL. 22, NO. 2)

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Disaster management teams composed of experts from differentcountries will be more and more common in the future. As natural disasters are most frequent in Central America and Southeast Asia (developing countries with limited human and financial resources), their disaster-management organizations will more frequently seek help from the international community. This article analyzes disaster management before, during, and after the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines. This was one of the biggest eruptions in the past century and one with important lessons for present-day disaster management. Different ethnic groups in the Philippines were affected by this disaster. Filipino experts worked together with foreign experts in solving problems that came prior to and after this disaster. This paper argues that disaster management was affected by the cultural norms and values of the people working together to manage the disaster. It is concluded that intercultural competence, like cultural awareness and sensitivity, are important factors for the successful planning and implementation of disaster management efforts among multi-cultural expert groups.