Building Resilience in Vulnerable Communities

Building Resilience

Disaster resilience refers to the ability of communities to manage major shocks or stresses without significant weakening of prospects for long-term development.

Role of Humanitarian Assistance

Effective disaster resilience requires the interaction of both humanitarian actors and development actors. Development actors generally contribute to the promotion of good governance, preparedness for future humanitarian disasters, and often focus on disaster risk reduction, social protection and climate change adaptation. By addressing chronic vulnerabilities through the promotion of poverty reduction, food security, and good governance, development actors play an important role in building community resilience.

Humanitarian actors can help inform these efforts, focus the attention of policy makers on key areas of vulnerability and help kick start the recovery process by working closely with affected populations. Nowhere is the dividing line of responsibility between humanitarian and development actors more blurred than in situations of pre-disaster risk reduction, post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation.

While humanitarian aid can assist in the recovery process and alleviate immediate suffering by facilitating reconstruction efforts, it is also a goal of development aid to “build back better”, reduce vulnerability and set in place safety nets and strategies to mitigate the effects of humanitarian crises.

Humanitarian disasters show the extent of human vulnerability, and they are often much more destructive in poverty-stricken communities. This relationship to poverty means that both development and humanitarian actors play crucial roles in minimizing the frequency and impact of humanitarian crises.

Building resilience - Humanitarian help

Hyogo Framework for Action

In 2005, the United Nations released the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) to build the resilience of populations to disasters. The HFA was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in Resolution A/RES/60/195.

It describes in detail the work required by all actors and sectors to help build the capacities of communities to respond effectively to future crises and thereby reduce the losses incurred by disasters.

In particular, the framework highlights five priorities that humanitarian and development actors should integrate into their work:

- Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation

- Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning

- Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels

- Reduce the underlying risk factors (social, economic and environmental conditions that can lead to a disaster)

Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels


Building resilience - Humanitarian Aid

In addition to providing life-saving services, repairing pre-existing infrastructure and helping return communities to pre-disaster conditions, humanitarian agencies seek to apply these principles so that communities can learn from crises and prevent them from reoccurring

While they have distinct mandates, it is the responsibility of both humanitarian and development actors to contribute to building resilience and local capacity. It is essential for humanitarian and development actors to work closely together to help communities’ transition from relief to recovery and to better mitigate the effects of future disasters. Resilience is difficult to measure but provides an essential framework for working towards a vision where communities become increasingly self-sufficient and are better equipped to manage future risks.



More Information

- UNISDR: Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA))