Two key processes diminish or distort the success of disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures, and will become more significant with climate change and its impacts on hazards. The first is that "outsiders" notions (those of organisations attempting to support DRR) of the risks faced by people are always different from those of the people they are trying to help. There is a significant (and disabling) lack of agreement between local people`s risk priorities and those of the outsiders. Second, significant aspects of "culture" (including religious belief and behaviour, attitudes to nature, group and peer affected behaviour) lead many people to ignore risks or to consider that their ability to influence those risks are minimal. This therefore also disables the success of DRR policies and projects.
But these two very significant aspects of people`s behaviour are largely ignored in the design of DRR programmes and projects. There is a "rationality gap" between outsider and insider perspectives that is going to widen as climate change increases its effects on hazards and vulnerability to hazards. This means that unless much more attention and respect is given to people`s own priorities and belief systems, it is highly unlikely that disaster management can succeed. The paper argues that to begin with, a closer match must be made between the two "rationalities" so that it becomes possible to support people-based and community-centred projects for reducing risks from climate change.