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Building resilience

  • Published at 06:52 pm May 27th, 2019
Karim Manjra

Embedding an understanding of climate vulnerability

Resilience at its heart is about understanding and responding to hazards or threats; these can be both shocks which can cause disaster but also longer terms changes and stresses such as changing environments due to climate change and economic development.

We live in a multi-risk environment, facing slow and rapid onset emergencies, and climate change. Local risk landscapes are changing fast, with frequent and intense weather events, and societal and environmental stresses which are becoming increasingly uncertain and unpredictable. Coupled with this we have the challenge of people who are living in developing countries, where the numbers of vulnerable communities over the coming century will increase dramatically. 

Vulnerable communities across the world are already at significant risk and often lack resilience due to their economic and social situation. Without attention and adequate response at the policy and practice levels, the people at vulnerable communities coupled with the increasing multi risk environment will create a vulnerability nexus which could prevent global resilience from improving and put millions of marginalized people, their families and communities at risk.

A resilience approach includes understanding vulnerability and capacity of people, their families, their communities, and the services they rely upon from government and private sector, and the possible threats and opportunities they face now and if the future. Resilience is about supporting the development of measures to support the management of this and take up opportunities. Alongside this is also about building a level of capacity which allows a flexible response to threats and opportunities which are perhaps unknown. 

A resilience approach addresses some of the many challenges we currently have in our community based adaptation work:

● It breaks down the silos that we work within, taking an objective approach to our work, examining the main risk issues and looking at addressing them at every level through different methods, from policy to direct programming.

● It allows for complexity, not by diluting our strategic approach but by knowing our impact and what additional actions are needed outside of our control to reach our goals, so emphasising the need for collective action and partnerships.

● It focuses on a much more dynamic and detailed analysis of the contexts we are working in through assessment, thus improving the impact and sustainability of our work and the evidence we can draw from it.

● It provides a clear framework for monitoring and evaluation of our projects and the impact of our policy work and evidence as to the impact of our work on building vulnerable people resilience. 

● It emphasises the need for community participation, partnering local knowledge with wider research and investigation and supporting the capacity building of national and local organisations and individuals. 

● It provides a framework that can be applied to our work on social protection, health, rights and protection, gender, livelihoods, violence and abuse, humanitarian response and DRR work, creating greater strategic and operational tie up between these areas. 

A resilience approach integrates a different angle into the objectives of our community based adaptation work. It looks to ensure that the impact of our community based adaptation work is dynamic allowing for change and respond to the various shocks and stresses that are the reality of vulnerable people’s lives.

Mostafizur Rahman is the Project Manager of Climate Change and Environment at Helvetas Swiss Inter-cooperation in Bangladesh.