Reference Sheet T
EVCA tools to explore hazards/threats
This sheet provides greater detail on the hazard‑ or threat‑specific portion of the risk assessment. The vulnerability portion will be featured in the subsequent reference sheet.
Purpose of hazard/threat assessment: To identify all the hazards or threats experienced by the community and prioritise them. To gain a thorough understanding of the nature and behaviour of the prioritised hazards within the community.
There are four standard tools used for hazard/threat analysis:
1. Historical profile/disaster history
The historical profile helps explore the evolution of hazard events over a one‑year period. Use a timeline to gather basic information on which disaster events have occurred in the community. Analyse and discuss whether certain hazards or threats are increasing in frequency or intensity over time. Supplement the timeline with information from key informants, especially older people who have a longer perspective, and compare with secondary data.
Emerging and changing hazards: The RCRC has the responsibility to also highlight risks that the community may not be aware of or does not prioritise (e.g., the presence of an earthquake fault line, mortality statistics in the area, industrial hazards, climate change predictions, etc.). Present and discuss any additional hazards beyond those the community has raised. Probe and challenge the community with statistics (e.g., on health, mortality, etc.) and your knowledge of the humanitarian consequences. Consider emerging and changing hazards due to climate change. You may need to explain climate change and extreme weather events to the community in simple language. It is important to explain the difference between weather and climate, and ask them what changes in the climate they have observed over the years in their area. Also consider silent hazards, those that often don’t attract as much media attention but persistently exist and seriously affect the community, for example, gender‑based violence.
While the focus is on the hazards or threats, you can also capture other major or memorable events and developments in the community that can help in the analysis later. When discussed in comparison to community vulnerability or capacity, it is useful to note events such as key visits from outsiders, the building of a school, etc.
Tip 1: Let the community guide the discussion
If this is one of the first formal tools you are completing during the assessment, remember to introduce the objective and key steps, but allow community members to complete the tool. This will reinforce the participatory nature of the EVCA process early on.
Use context‑appropriate visual tools to support the discussion. For example, you can lay a physical timeline or string along the floor and let community members place their historical events along it with Post‑it notes or symbols.
Tip 2: Diversity in hazard identification
The historical profile and seasonal calendar may reveal different hazards or threats for each profile or subgroup in the community. This is normal. Value all perspectives and explore the reasons as a foundation for eventual consensus on community priorities.
2. Seasonal Calendar
Tool: Seasonal calendar
The seasonal calendar helps explore the seasonality of events over a one‑year period. Detail what events occur in what months. In what seasons are weather events such as hurricanes or cyclones, floods, disease outbreaks or droughts likely to occur. Detail the effects on economic opportunities or livelihoods, and seasonal migration. Public events such as holidays and festivals can show when social cohesion is increased.
Tip 3: Connect the community to more information
If key hazards in the community are not well understood, invite a topical expert to explain them in greater detail, or run a short awareness‑raising session. Look for opportunities to explain climate change impacts to the community.
3. Hazard/threat prioritization
Communities may face various hazards and may not have the resources to address all of them. Enable them to conduct an initial prioritization of the hazards that were highlighted in the historical profile or seasonal calendar discussions. Several criteria help to prioritise the hazards/threats:
Number of people killed, affected, displaced by the hazard/threat.
Extent of the damage to infrastructure, houses, etc. This is the most common criteria used.
Frequency of occurrence of the hazard (how often it occurs).
The RCRC has the responsibility to remind the community of hazards/threats that have significant impacts based on secondary data, even if they are not suggested directly by community members. Probe and challenge the community with statistics (e.g. on health, mortality, etc.) and explore what is known of the hazard and its humanitarian consequences.
Tip 3: Connect the community to more information
Divide the community into age, gender and social groups to do the prioritization. If it is a very large group, select a few representatives of each profile or minority. When applicable, use symbols on the table or on the ground for each hazard and give each person 10 beans or stones. Ask them to place beans or stones next to each hazard, according to its importance. The more beans they allocate, the more important that hazard is to the community.
If subgroups prioritise hazards differently, ask them to explain their perceptions. Enable them through discussion to reach a consensus on the priority hazards for their community. It is recommended to limit the list of priority hazards to three.
4. Priority hazard/threat characterization
At this point, the resilience team (branch and community representatives) should prepare a deeper analysis to describe the nature and behaviour of the community’s top three hazards. The analysis will be more useful if it includes volunteers
from the community. Triangulate the community information with external expertise—for example, relevant specialists from universities or the meteorological agency—and bring that expert information into discussions with the community. For example, the community may report more severe floods than in the past, so
it is easy to blame climate change, but if local weather records do not show any change in rainfall intensity, perhaps changes in the management of the watershed upstream is a more likely reason for the greater severity of floods. Use secondary sources of information to understand the scientific causes of each hazard, scientific warning signs and signals, duration, frequency, and period of occurrence.
Tools to use: Secondary literature, historical profile, seasonal calendar and focus group discussion.
Use the following guiding questions to conduct the characterization:
What is the cause or origin of the specific hazard or threat?
What are the traditional and scientific warning signs of the hazard?
What is the lead time (i.e., how long does it take between the warning signs and when it impacts the community)?
When (in which months) does the hazard or threat occur?
How often does the hazard or threat repeat itself? What is its frequency?
What changes in frequency and severity were noted in the last decade(s)?Do you expect any changes in the next five to ten years (considering climate change or other factors)?
How long does the hazard tend to last?
List the information in the following format. A table should be completed to reflect each priority hazard.
Period of occurrence