Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Graham A. Tobin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Philip van Beynen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul J. Cloke, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Committee Member

Jennifer M. Collins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda M. Whiteford, Ph.D.


Hazards, Resilience, Marginalized Groups, Non-Profit Organization, Vulnerability


With the adoption of neo-liberal policies and the decline in social welfare, non-profit organizations have been increasingly integrated into public service provision. Such changes raise questions regarding formal policies and access for marginalized populations, no more so than in disaster settings as formal disaster management of sexual health services are still vague. This study identifies the role of non-profit organizations in providing public health and social services through the lens of sexual health commitments following the September 2010 Darfield Earthquake and subsequent major aftershock during February 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The primary goals of this study were three fold, to delineate i) aspects of non-profit organizational culture and agency connections that contributed to the resilience of non-profit organizations by maintaining and adapting access to sexual health and associated wellbeing services over the transition from response to recovery ii) integration pathways of non-profit organizations into disaster risk reduction and iii) appropriate geographic representations of temporal vulnerability change impacting the commitments of non-profit organizations.

Mixed methods were used for this study. Data were collected over a two-year period between 2013 and 2015. Data collection techniques included: i) archival research ii) surveys iii) focus groups and iv) semi-structured interviews. Quantitative data were derived from census records and qualitative data from surveys, focus groups, and interviews with non-profit and civil society practitioners. A total of thirty-six non-profit organizations, civil society partners, and agency connections participated.

Results show that sexual health needs of youth, families, and migrants arriving for the rebuild, fluctuated following the earthquakes. Sexual health non-profits absorbed the shifting demands for services and supplies by leveraging government partnerships and non-profit agency connections to account for fluctuations in presenting populations, adjust service delivery methods and continue advocacy campaigns. Also, as a result of functional redundancy amongst migrant support groups and their respective agency connections, strategies of long-term advocacy commitment, co-location, and relationship building with diverse ethnic groups benefitted migrants and refugees in maintaining or accessing adequate health and wellbeing support into the recovery phase. By developing programs to increase public awareness of resources, creating engagement opportunities in vacant spaces, and bringing a united voice to authorities, non-profits captured increased social cohesion to address emergent and compounded vulnerabilities of marginalized populations. However, as the recovery progressed, some collective energy was lost.

Findings indicate that non-profits operating in Christchurch prior to the earthquakes with flexible organizational structures and those that emerged after were most successful in the emergency response and early recovery. The ability to capture social cohesion resulting from the shared experience of the earthquakes and build bridges with non-profit connections or incorporate emergent populations into service delivery facilitated successful operations into recovery. Non-profits that partnered with the government were better suited for long-term recovery, when interagency collaboration returned to a more competitive state and reliance on co-production of services was reestablished as the preferred method of service delivery, based on their capacity to maintain and build linkages with civil society partners.

This research adds to disaster literature and the understanding of organizational behaviors by suggesting appropriate means to assess the potential resilience of non-profit organizations post-disaster. Further, pathways of integration with disaster management are identified for various types of non-profits that contribute to sexual health and related community support services. Methods used to identify vulnerabilities of wellbeing focused non-profit organizations and model integration of culturally appropriate service delivery options into recovery planning and disaster mitigation can be applied to other high-income nations with burgeoning non-profit sectors that experience variety of hazards, in particular on the United States’ West Coast as the health care debate in the United States continues.

Included in

Geography Commons