Community Based DRR

community3Community based disaster preparedness is based on the premise that the communities living in disaster-prone areas, need to strengthen people’s capacity and organize them to deal with disasters.

Preparedness at the community level helps reduce the tendency of communities to rely on external aid when disaster strikes.

It  also  reduces  overall vulnerability  against  natural  disasters, helps  people  to deal  with  disasters,  and  ensures a timely and accurate response.

While preparedness is vital in reducing the loss of lives, more important is changing the context of communities that make them vulnerable. The context in this case is their risky habitations, poor housing and sanitation conditions. They are in this context due to abject poverty, lack of health awareness and education. Sustainability of disaster preparedness lies in addressing these vulnerability conditions and changing their context, while organizing them to deal with disasters.

community4The  Process:  The  process  involves  people  of  a  particular  region  in  developing disaster  management  plans  and  implementing  them.

Typical community based disaster preparedness (CBDP) programs initiated by various agencies in India, undertake a needs survey of the villages as the initial step. The  needs  survey  is  based  on  the  past  experiences  of  the  village  when  it  faced  a cyclone or when it had floods.

This is ascertained with village meetings and discussion with different sections of the community including women.  It  is  followed  by  community coming  together  to  articulate  its  own  strengths  and  weaknesses  with  respect  to  a disaster situation. Within this process, the community identifies threats and needs during a cyclone or flood, and plans a disaster management plan, which includes:

  • Developing an area map,
  • Identifying vulnerable areas and families,
  • Discussing the past history of disasters,
  • Developing contingency actions, and
  • Forming key action groups.

Village contingency plan or social mapping: A key component of the community-level disaster management plan is the formation of the village contingency plan and village task force groups.  The contingency plan takes shape when the community assesses the village situation and develops a list of activities that they agree to follow to minimize communal and individual damage in the event of a disaster. The contingency plan maps out all households in a village or habitation that the NGO has chosen to intervene.  While preparing contingency plans, the household are digitized and tracked based on a household number. The plan also specifies actions to be  taken  by  individuals  in  the  community  so  that  each  one  knows  what  to  do  when  a cyclone or flood warning is received.

Key Message: In any disaster what matters most is the time gap between the disaster event and the response that follows. Most of the damage to lives and properties occur during the period of this gap. Therefore, it is not a right idea to leave the responsibility of saving lives to the government agencies alone. The response to a disaster should start where the disaster strikes. The loss of lives and assets can be minimized, only if that response comes from an organized local group at the community level.

Related Publication:

http://www.unicef.org/india/ConferenceCommunitybasedDisasterRiskReductionreport.pdf