Accounting for Disasters: Understanding Stakeholder Involvement in Disaster Accountability
This paper examines the ways and manner in which disaster management stakeholders are involved and engaged in the rendering of disaster accountability in Ghana. Particularly, the paper attempts to explain the limited involvement and participation of sections of the public, including victims, in the disaster accountability process by considering the accessibility and responsiveness of the process. To achieve the objectives of the study we adopt a qualitative, single case study of the coordinating body responsible for managing disasters in Ghana: National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO). The study makes use of semi-structured face-to-face interviews and a review of publicly available documents in collecting data and combines both inductive and deductive approaches to data analysis. The study finds that an all-inclusive approach is adopted in defining disaster management roles and responsibilities for which accountability may be demanded. However, the level of inclusiveness varies with the nature and characteristics of the social actors, particularly the community, of which disaster victims fall part. Moreover, this inclusiveness is reduced in the delivery of disaster accountability outcomes. These inconsistencies arise as a result of inadequacy of human and material resources to carry out effective disaster management duties and to provide the related accountability outcomes. We also find that the involvement of members of affected communities, including victims, is generally easier in rural communities compared to urban centres, as members of the later appear to exhibit some level of apathy. In addition, the nature of the disaster accountability process is also attributed to political patronage and political costs. As a result, NADMO’s current process of assessing disaster management outcomes are largely accessible to only powerful stakeholders who may demand reasons for conduct and other stakeholders who appear to be legitimate, including legally mandated agencies. There is, therefore, evidence of the co-existence of upward and felt accountability. We argue for a clumsy approach to delivering disaster accountability that tends to maximise the interests of all stakeholder groups, including the most vulnerable actors. Thus just like in the assignment of disaster management roles, the process of rendering accountability should be equally all-inclusive allowing for responsive debate in defining and assessing accountability outcomes. We are, therefore, arguing for a fully adaptive accountability approach to adequately manage the tensions and contradictions present in the co-existence of the upward and felt accountability. Steps must be taken to ensure the provision of adequate human and capital resources to enable disaster managers deliver on their mandate and to avert the impact of political influence on the disaster accountability processes. The assignment of disaster management roles should be backed by adequate resources so as to enhance the ability to demand reasons for conduct and the ability of disaster management actors to render accountability.
Keywords - Disaster Accounting, Inclusiveness, Responsibility, Accountability, Stakeholder Involvement, Clumsiness, Adaptive Accountability.