Reference Sheet H
Sustainability in resilience building
A Red Cross Red Crescent Guide to Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA) shows how we put communities at the heart of what we do by improving communication, engagement and accountability across our work. You can use this guide to develop your own strategies and plans.
The Better Programming Initiative is an impact assessment tool and was born of the conviction that, in communities affected by violence, well‑planned humanitarian aid can support local capacity for recovery and reconciliation.
Sustainable outcomes - the long‑term, continuing benefits of National Society interventions - should not only be considered at the end of projects, programmes or plans. The IFRC’s Framework for Community Resilience considers sustainability to be a quality that is generated throughout the life of resilience‑strengthening processes.
The three Red Cross Red Crescent services and landmarks that promote sustainability from different angles should now be familiar to you. If your National Society has followed the steps in this guide, it should have catalysed and supported sustainability from the start of its engagement with the community. To be sure, check the actions described in the table on the next page.
Solutions that serve multiple purposes tend to foster sustainability
Communities are more likely to invest energy in sustaining activities that are useful most of the time. For instance, construct a storm shelter only if it will also meet other daily needs in the community, for example, by acting as a meeting place, school or church.
Resilience‑building activities are more likely to be sustainable if they are linked to activities that raise income or promote income‑generating activities. For example, if community members who train in first aid can obtain care work, they are more likely to remember and apply the skills they have learned.
Furthermore, consideration of future climate impacts when designing activities can help ensure activities and investments are climate smart in the long run, and sustainable even under changing climate conditions.
Key services of the FCR and Actions that increase the sustainability of community resilience
A risk‑informed, holistic approach
Make sure the risk assessment process is fully participatory. This empowers communities and encourages them to periodically assess risk.
Assess risk holistically, so that the underlying causes of vulnerability are identified and addressed, not just the symptoms.
Involve many stakeholders from the earliest possible stage. This creates momentum and critical mass, helping to sustain effort.
A demand‑driven, people‑centred and inclusive approach
Use participatory risk prioritization and objective‑setting processes to generate community ownership of its choices.
Help communities to mobilize their members. This generates leadership capacity and builds social capital.
Actively involve and include all sections of the community in monitoring progress on resilience, to generate buy‑in and interest.
An approach that connects communities to prevent and reduce human suffering
Instead of taking a leading role, accompany the community and its committee(s), enabling them to build their capacity in the long term.
Support communities in their advocacy: to engage with public authorities; access public budgets; and influence policies and laws that will help strengthen their resilience.
Connect communities with other external actors, to increase networks of support and learning.
Create partnerships between the community and authorities.
Use your experience as well as evidence to communicate to donors the need for long‑term funding and flexible unearmarked budgets that enable innovation and learning for resilience.
See the table