De Silva, M. Kushani K K (2020) Internet-Enabled Digital Technology in Tsunami Early Warning (TEW): Gender Equity in Perspective. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Despite the scientific and technological progress made in coping with disasters, many lives are still lost due to gaps in warning communication. There is an overrepresentation of women in the disaster death toll, particularly in the tsunami death toll, which highlights women’s poor capacity for response and lack of access to Tsunami Early Warning (TEW). For instance, according to the latest tsunami statistics, in the tsunami in Central Sulawesi in Indonesia on Friday 28 September 2018, 2,077 casualties were recorded, with women being overrepresented. The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 killed more women than men in the worst affected areas, including the Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima regions. Consequently, 8,363 female and 7,360 male casualties were recorded. In the Indian Oceanic tsunami of 2004, in the tsunami-affected areas of Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka, approximately two-thirds of the dead were confirmed as being female. The lack of access to TEW and women’s poor ability to respond resulted in the overrepresentation of women in tsunami death tolls. This is despite the Sendai Framework for Action (SFDRR) emphasising the importance of Early Warning Systems (EWS) in meeting the needs of the end-user considering the gender aspects.

Another aspect in TEW is the gender-based internet interaction that also provides space for rescuing gender-based potentials. For example, social media facilitates online interaction for women, which transforms them into informed decision-makers in TEW. Therefore, in the present research, the research problem was identified as the need to improve gender equity within TEW using the internet. The overall research aim was established as the critical examination of the impact of internet-enabled digital technology on gender equity within TEW.

In this research, multiple case studies were conducted in Sri Lanka, where an overall TEW framework with gender equity and internet interaction aspects is absent. The case studies were conducted in three tsunami-affected municipal council areas, namely Galle, Batticaloa, and Hambantota. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 experts. Consequently, 38 semi-structured interviews and questionnaire surveys were conducted with 290 respondents. Thematic analysis and computer software N Vivo 11 and SPSS 24 were adopted to organise and analyse the data. A triangulation technique was used to validate the findings. As per the findings, four critical components were identified in a gender-sensitive, internet-enabled, people-centred TEW system, such as risk knowledge for preparedness, monitoring and warning service for preparedness, dissemination and communication using the internet, and community responding capacity with the gender equity perspective. It is in this context that a framework of strategies was developed as the main research outcome.

In conclusion, the identification of women as key actors in TEW at the strategic level – catering to men’s and women’s strategic and practical needs in TEW and recognising the usefulness of social media networks, smartphones, mobile internet, and digital risk information for non-hierarchical decision-making – has become important and instrumental in making the TEW system effective.

The present research will have a vital impact on the national, regional, and global scale, enabling policymakers, academics, researchers and practitioners, and the communities at risk to make informed decisions for saving lives. The present thesis is organised into eight chapters: introduction, literature review, conceptual framework, methodology, case study analysis and discussion, expert interview analysis and discussion, findings, and conclusions.

FINAL THESIS - De Silva.pdf - Accepted Version
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