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Challenges and Barriers to the Participation of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Flood Management: A Qualitative Study from Iran

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 June 2022

Sanaz Sohrabizadeh
Department of Health in Disasters and Emergencies, School of Public Health and Safety, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran Air Quality and Climate Change Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Parvin Shafiei Moghaddam
Rescue and Relief and Disaster Management Department, Iran Helal Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran
Bayram Nejati-Zarnaqi
Department of Health in Disasters and Emergencies, School of Public Health and Safety, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Shiva Yousefian
National Medical Emergency Organization, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Tehran, Iran
Davoud Pirani
Department of Health in Disasters and Emergencies, School of Public Health and Safety, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Ali Sahebi
Non-Communicable Diseases Research Center, Ilam University of Medical Sciences, Ilam, Iran
Iman Farrahi-Ashtiani
Department of Health in Disasters and Emergencies, School of Public Health and Safety, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Katayoun Jahangiri*
Department of Health in Disasters and Emergencies, School of Public Health and Safety, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Corresponding author: Katayoun Jahangiri, Email:



Floods are one of Iran’s most important natural hazards, which cause a lot of damage every year. Various organizations, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), participate in flood management. The present study aimed to explore the challenges and barriers of NGOs’ participation in the management of the flooding in Iran based on stakeholders’ experiences.


This qualitative study is a case study that was conducted using the content analysis approach. Fifteen participants, including 3 national managers, 2 volunteers active in responding to recent floods, and 10 NGO managers/secretaries who had the knowledge or operational experience of participating in disaster management, were approached for interviews. Data were collected using a purposeful sampling method and continued until reaching data saturation.


Challenges and barriers to NGOs’ participation in flood management were categorized into 4 main categories and 14 subcategories, including policy-making challenges, managerial challenges, executive challenges, and socio-cultural challenges.


As multiple NGOs take part in responding to disasters and performing relief operations, establishing a unified command and supervision system for effective coordination and collaborations among NGOs and other stakeholders is highly suggested. Further research is needed to develop a measurement tool for assessing the effectiveness of NGOs’ activities during disasters.

Original Research
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc.

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