Reducing disaster risk: Bottom-up approach
Bangladesh is recognised as a country at high risk of recurring natural and human induced hazards with an average 10 million people affected every year. Frequent floods, cyclones, river bank erosion, water-logging, drought and tornadoes significantly disrupt Bangladesh's economy and lives and livelihoods of its people. Climate change has added a new dimension to the risk environment with global predictions suggesting that the country could expect more intense cyclones, storm surge and flooding and that a rise in sea level could have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of up to 15 million people.
Experience shows that sustaining re-current disaster impacts and capacities of the mass people as well as local community are by far the most concrete strength of disaster management in the context of Bangladesh. During its 20 years' experience of Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR), the Community Risk Assessment (CRA) and Risk Reduction Action Planning (RRAP) guidelines have been a highly significant output which is up-scaled by the leadership of the Comprehensive Disaster Management Programmme(CDMP) of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.
Community risk assessment : Key instrument
The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief under the auspices of the CDMP initiative along with the inputs from various stakeholders developed and introduced a uniform CRA methodology with the objectives of understanding and assessing local risk environment by the vulnerable community itself in a simplified manner. CRA is a participatory process to assess hazards, risks and vulnerabilities in order to prepare a risk reduction action plan for implementation by the local authority and other actors. The CRA process combines scientific data and forecasts (including climate change impacts) with a participatory discourse using local knowledge to identify, analyse and evaluate the risk environment of a particular community.
This approach considers an all hazards, all risks and all sectors perspective within a given community. A consensus is then reached amongst the community, other stakeholders and government agencies on actions that are needed to manage the specific risk environment. The end product is a consensual document detailing community risk profile and a set of risk reduction actions to mitigate these vulnerabilities. CRA follows a six-step process ( identification of hazards, vulnerable sectors, elements & locations, risk analysis and evaluation, specific risk reduction options and action planning, consensus on options) and uses a number of PRA tools as follows: Transect Walk, Social Mapping, Hazard Mapping, Hazard Seasonal Calendar, Livelihood Seasonal Calendar, Venn Diagram, Key Informant Interview, Focus Group Discussion.
The Union is the general unit of assessment although the methodology can be followed for any geographic, socio-cultural and environmental context. CRA used relevant union specific socio-economic, demographic, environmental data including the scientific prediction information are collected from available secondary sources and compiled as part of the community scoping exercise. On average 200 people from each union usually are consulted during the process of a union risk reduction action plan preparation and its validation.
The distinctiveness The uniqueness of CRA is that
Use of scientific information by putting equal emphasis on people's perception, experiences and learning. The CRA process allows all stakeholders, particularly the local authorities and marginalised groups, to be involved in the planning and decision making process.
The CRA process results in the development of a Risk Reduction Action Plan owned by the local authorities, including a list of prioritised disaster risk reduction (DRR) interventions.
CRA can be applied to all sorts of risk environments and is able to deliver consistent outcomes. This enables separate CRAs to be readily compared or consolidated, which eventually can facilitate its replication.
CRA can also be treated as an effective tool for community awareness on their risks and vulnerabilities. Through active involvement in CRA process the community people, especially the underprivileged and the at-risk communities are aware about their rights.
CDMP has provided strong leadership and technical guidance in the development of nationally accepted uniform CRA approaches which are now aligned to be used by all international and national NGOs, and other stakeholders. These approaches have included a wide range of groups within the community particularly women, people with disabilities and the landless. The resulting action plans have provided a template for intervention. They have successfully created links to programme funding mechanisms (e.g. Local Disaster Risk Reduction Fund) as well as other government funding mechanisms. The challenge now is to seek ways of scaling-up this bottom-up approach, so that it will reach far larger numbers of vulnerable people.
Although Bangladesh has a well-established disaster management institutional framework that extends from the highest level of government through to Union and Local Government levels. While these systems mobilise quite quickly immediately before and after a crisis event, they are not so well energised to undertake a proactive leadership role in driving risk reduction initiatives from local to national level. However, in general far more support is needed to increase scale and effectiveness of local actions, and build learning networks. The synthesis and lessons from grassroots level of Bangladesh has identified three key areas in relation to CRA and a proactive approach to integrating local risk reduction initiatives into the broader development planning at national level:
-Participatory methodologies to enable effective links between CRA/RRAP and local knowledge and practices;
-Action learning approaches and the use of comprehensive risk reduction approaches aligned with sustainable livelihoods framework to promote learning-by-doing from a holistic base; and
-Participatory monitoring and evaluation involving local users, stakeholders which feed back into an action learning process at different levels, for rapid scaling-up and linking with decision making process at policy level.
This gives particular emphasis to enhancing local disaster management capability to be integrated at national development planning toss meaningfully towards a resilient community. wards a prepared and resilient community. With the effort of the local level planning aligned with national level disaster management and government initiative it eventually can lead to an effective disaster management system put in place. The comparative analysis of community benefits suggest that centralised approach need to be replaced by bottom up approach and initiatives so that local stakeholders can take part in the development proce