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Stage 1

Engage and connect

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Milestone 1

Engage as National Society

Our Framework for Community Resilience makes it clear that strengthening resilience is an integrated, multi‑sectoral, multilevel process. If your National Society wants to contribute to community resilience, every staff member, volunteer, branch, department and partner needs to understand that resilience is everybody’s business. It cannot be the domain of the disaster management section, or the health department, or any sector‑specific team. Instead, just as hazards or threats affect all aspects of life, building resilience requires a holistic vision and complementary, coordinated actions from all parts of your National Society.

 
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Step 1

Unite around resilience

Start a conversation on resilience in your National Society. Using this guide as your main reference, gather a small group of colleagues from different technical sectors who are or could be interested in resilience, and discuss:

  • What being resilient means.

  • What commitments to community resilience the RCRC has made and how these reflect our mission and mandate.

  • The basics of our approach: three services and five landmarks.

  • The 11 dimensions of community resilience.

  • What we need to do differently to enable all the communities we work with to strengthen their resilience.

  • How the proposed approach to strengthening community resilience incorporates the RCRC’s Enhanced Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (EVCA).

  • The implications for funding, existing programming, current priorities and organisational development (see Reference Sheet D).

Approach managers and explain what you have discussed, in particular, how the National Society’s knowledge and skill sets could help communities strengthen their resilience, building on the RCRC’s successful approach to the EVCA. Give them a copy or summary of this guidance and ask whether you may hold a wider discussion for all interested staff and volunteers. If the NS leadership is in agreement, organize information and discussion sessions with an open invitation to all. Share this guidance, and welcome questions.

Invite some or all of those interested to become part of a resilience team that will promote and lead this process on behalf of your NS.

Purposefully reread, discuss and decide how to contextualize this guidance document to your specific national, cultural and community context. 

Consider what funding you have available for this process, what additional funding you might be able to secure, and proceed in accordance with your available and likely budget.

Draw up terms of reference to clarify the purpose and responsibilities of the newly formed resilience team within your National Society, and the resources agreed, and obtain a clear commitment from those involved and the relevant levels of management. 

 
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Step 2

Determine geographic or demographic focus

As the resilience team, you now need to gather reports, statistics and other studies on risk, vulnerability and threats to people’s lives, health and well‑being across your country to identify the geographical areas or population groups at highest risk, as described in Step 3. First seek this risk knowledge in official studies (often available on government websites), and also use your own knowledge, reports from other organisations including previous Partner National Society programs, 510 data,  and other sources. Reference Sheet G provides links to some useful sites and sources of secondary literature and data. The Community Resilience Dashboard’s Scan also provides guidance on secondary data. ​

 
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Step 3

Select a focus community or communities

Use the criteria in Figure 2 on the next page to help you prioritize one or more focus communities. It is important to consider the capacity of your National Society and branches when you decide with how many communities or population groups you can work to foster resilience. 

Accompanying a community through the process of becoming more resilient can take several years, and your National Society or branch needs to be sure that it has sufficient capacity and resources to provide support for as long as it is needed. If the community you choose to work with is urban and large, you may need to select certain neighbourhoods or sub‑sections of the community and gradually add others. If several communities share the same ecosystems, such as a coastal area or river basin, consider using a ‘landscape' or ecosystem approach. Use groups of communities in clusters—either together or gradually scaling up—to avoid perceptions of unfairness, and create opportunities for joint action and involvement with local authorities. If funding and other capacity will enable to you to take a scaling‑up approach, consider working with communities or clusters that are representative of others at risk with whom you would like to work in the future. 

Definition: Community

For the RCRC, a community is ‘a group of people who may or may not live within the same area, village or neighbourhood, and shares a similar culture, habits and resources’. Communities are ‘groups of people exposed to the same threats and risks such as disease, political and economic issues and natural hazards’.  
(Framework for Community Resilience)

FIGURE 2  Criteria for community selection

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Risk Level

Secondary data and first‑hand knowledge are sufficient to guide you to areas and communities that face high risk and/or multiple sources of risk, and for which 
you can work through the other criteria in this list. Remember that you will do a thorough assessment in Stage 2.

Access

If conflict or other issues prevent NS staff and volunteers, etc. from reaching the community, humanitarian assistance may be more urgent than resilience‑building. Confirm access and seasonal limitations. 

Interest

It is crucial for community members to want to invest their own time and effort in improving their situation. Resilience is not a quick fix, nor can it be brought about by the RCRC. Confirm action and commitment from the community itself. Be ready to change the list of communities.

Funding

You may already have funding for certain types of communities or programmes.

Confirm that the community meets criteria 1 to 3 above and that the donor is open to using the programme as a holistic entry point for broader work on resilience.

Current programming

Always build on ongoing work. If your NS is already implementing a health programme, for example, you can build on this by addressing other types of vulnerability. Fostering resilience is easier when the community knows and trusts us. Use this familiarity as a bridge to the resilience Road Map.

Complementarity

Strengthening resilience requires actions in many sectors. Working with others is key to success, as long as there is no duplication, and other very vulnerable communities nearby are not left unattended. 

Impact potential

Working with groups or clusters of communities, particularly those within the same risk landscape, contributes to a larger impact as it provides an opportunity to examine the many interactions and interdependencies between ecosystems and human socioeconomic systems. This is true of both rural and urban communities.

Talk to both formal and informal leaders of the prioritized communities, without raising expectations, and discuss potential collaboration. Because each community will need to learn to lead the processes in which it is involved, it must actively participate in final decisions. Make clear that it is not a type of project or activity, but rather an approach that seeks resilience as the outcome.

Explain that the National Society’s role is to support and accompany the community, not lead the process, although it is prepared to enable them until the community feels ready to do so. Use the discussion to gauge the level of commitment of both community leaders and the wider community.

Also, if major political events such as elections are imminent, discuss the implications with community leaders and within your National Society to decide whether it is prudent to go ahead or if it would be better to wait until after the events. 


Document what you are doing and share the information with staff, volunteers, interested communities and other stakeholders. 

 
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Milestone 2

Engage the community

You will reach this milestone when you have achieved all of the steps below.


Once you have selected one or several communities, it is time to fully engage them.


The members of a community are people of different ages, gender, ability and ethnicity, and every person has an equal right to participate in decisions that affect their safety, well‑being and future. For resilience to be authentic and sustainable, every member of the community - and the most vulnerable in particular - needs to have the opportunity to engage in the process. Your National Society has an important role to play in making sure that community members can participate and engage in a sustainable manner (see Reference Sheet H on sustainability).


In addition to engaging the broader community, it is likely that a smaller group of people will need to lead the community towards resilience, and especially to drive the EVCA process. A community can move forward more efficiently when it empowers some of its members to take decisions and act on everyone’s behalf for the overall benefit. This group is called the community resilience team (see Reference Sheet I on criteria for selection). It is very important, therefore, that the members who are chosen to lead and manage resilience processes represent the interests of all community members and are committed to a participatory approach and an accountable relationship with the community as a whole. They should demonstrate general leadership and communication skills and be willing to develop them further.

Follow Steps 4, 5 and 6 below to help a community engage its members and organize to build resilience. Links to further resources on community engagement, accountability and conflict management are provided in Reference Sheet H on sustainability.

 
Tip: Inclusive representation


Unless they are very small, communities will probably need to select a group of individuals to lead their plans to strengthen resilience. A resilience team may be selected in a variety of ways. See Reference Sheet I for ideas on what skills, knowledge and attitudes are important to include when forming the resilience team.

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Step 4

Consult and engage the whole community

Explain to community leaders that building a resilient community requires broad community engagement and a dedicated group to take the community’s plans forward. 

Suggest calling a meeting or another event to inform the community about the proposal to promote resilience and get organized. Encourage leaders to use formal community forums or platforms to convey that this needs to be a community‑led initiative. Ask the leaders to actively involve people from all sectors of the community, including women and men, young people and the elderly, and minorities, such as people with disabilities and different ethnic groups. This may involve going to find them, and holding meetings or activities in their homes or places that are accessible to them (see tip on next page on inclusive representation and CEA guidance). 

 Introduce resilience 

Assist the leaders to explain to the wider community the concept of resilience and the support your National Society can offer. Encourage members of the community to describe the resilience dimensions in their own words. Contextualizing means making ideas real and familiar to the community.

 Organise a team  

If the community show an interest and agree to engage, explain the potential value of selecting a small, representative group (see Reference Sheet I on criteria for selection) to drive the initiative forward. The group will become the community resilience team and will work hand in hand with the National Society or Branch resilience team.

 
Be clear that your National Society has limited resources and is not likely to have competencies in all areas of the plan the community will develop. Explain that you will be able to provide accompaniment and guidance, connect the community to other stakeholders, and, depending on their priorities, may be able to offer some of the services or resources they seek. If you are able, offer a small fund for a simple project that will help the community create bonds around the concept of resilience and show that you are serious about your commitment.

 Draw up a written agreement 

Consider drawing up a written agreement between the two parts of the resilience team—the NS and the community representatives—as an important reference for guidance and a potential way to resolve any tensions or misunderstandings as you progress on this journey. See Reference Sheet J for guidance on preparing such an agreement in contexts in which this is appropriate. 


 Training 

Because enabling is one of the key services, at this stage you should consider conducting introductory training of the community resilience team. It should at least include risk terminology, the 11 resilience dimensions, the EVCA process, and the importance of inclusion. Any relevant skills that you feel the team is missing or needs to develop further (using Reference Sheet I) should be built into the training. You may wish to add details of the training to the agreement above and the importance of their participation.  


Sufficient time must be allocated to training. EVCA highlights the value of two distinct but complementary training methodologies: classroom training and learning by doing. Experience has shown that at least three full consecutive days are needed to train the team on the EVCA. Traditional classroom training can be done in three days, based on an average of eight hours of intensive sessions per day. It includes practical fieldwork, but this is not considered part of the EVCA assessment phase, which is expected to take place after the training. 


Learning by doing recognises that communities may have limited time to offer or that community members cannot all be available at the same time, and therefore integrates both training and implementation of an EVCA at the same time. A learning‑by‑doing process can be undertaken over six days. The sessions are flexible and can be organized to best suit individual community needs or capacities, whether over one intensive week or at regular intervals over a longer period. Learning by doing is only possible when well‑trained EVCA practitioners understand the methodology and are able to use the EVCA toolbox in a dynamic and creative way.

 
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Step 5

Develop a simple community factsheet

Working with the resilience team selected by the community, encourage them to collect basic facts about the community.

Encourage the community resilience team to pool their knowledge and consult secondary data (see Reference Sheet G on secondary literature and data, and the EVCA toolbox), especially in urban areas where data are more likely to be available. 


Remind the team of the community resilience dimensions and encourage them to organize and document the information they find using the dimensions, as in the example in the tip below. This document becomes a reference against which progress and change can be measured. 

TABLE 3  Basic facts by dimension of community resilience

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Of 678 inhabitants (351 females and 327 males), 405 are under the age of 18, 35 are over the age of 65, 621 are mestizo (mixed Hispanic/indigenous), 57 identify as indigenous Wilu (government census 2016).

 

Cholera and dengue outbreaks occur annually during each rainy season (Municipal health records). The river floods approximately 10% of homes each year, and larger floods affect up to 40% of homes every 5 to 10 years (local knowledge). Plagues of rats occur every 5 to 10 years (local knowledge). Homicides have risen (2 in 2015, 4 in 2016), attributed to gangs in the capital city (local knowledge).

Last year, 321 cases of diarrhoea were reported, 225 of flu, 189 of skin disease, and 35 of sexually transmitted diseases (plus 77 ‘other’) (municipal health records). The community health post is often overwhelmed and makes referrals to municipal health authorities, but many people do not go or cannot afford the treatment (local knowledge). 12% of children under 5 years are malnourished (Ministry of Family Welfare).

Over 90% of homes have and use a latrine; most families boil water from the well before drinking it, but diarrhoea is common among children; in dry months, water is scarce (local knowledge).

About 80% of houses are constructed from wood and have corrugated metal roofs, and over 50% require repairs; no one in the community is homeless (local knowledge).

12% of children under 5 years are malnourished (Ministry of Family Welfare). Part of crops and income are lost to floods every year, preventing the poorest families from meeting their needs (local knowledge and media). Women work in domestic service in the town, and men seek seasonal work on farms and in construction to earn income for food (report by local NGO).

Some 50 to 60 men are employed by Star mining company (local media); the company, Jug o’ Juice, buys the citrus fruit harvest; farming households sell corn, melons and avocados in the municipal market 1 to 2 hours away by road (local knowledge).

There is mobile phone coverage (local billboards). Electricity service is available (local knowledge). Buses to town run twice daily (bus route posters). 

A large native forest nearby is accessed by the community (especially women) for gathering food and fuel. The forest has also provided protection from upstream flooding. Illegal logging is threatening the forest (local knowledge and environmental NGO report).

Rival gangs from the capital are starting to recruit young mestizo males, reducing the general feeling of safety (police post). There are no known land disputes and no racial, ethnic or religious tensions (local knowledge). The community works together on some issues for mutual benefit (local knowledge).

A religious youth group has 20 to 30 members aged 11 to 14, but older youth do not attend; there is an active women’s association that organizes events for children; no women are on the community development committee (local knowledge).

Leaders participate in the sub‑regional assembly; the women’s association wants to connect with other associations but is not aware how; local government officials visit every 3 to 4 months (local knowledge).

 General 

 

 1. Risk management 

Resilient community knows and manages its risks.

 2. Health 

A resilient community is healthy.

 3. Water and sanitation 

A resilient community can meet its basic water and sanitation needs.

 4. Shelter 

A resilient community can meet its basic shelter needs.

 5. Food and nutrition security 

A resilient community can meet its basic food needs.

 6. Economic opportunities 

A resilient community has diverse economic opportunities.

 7. Infrastructure and services 

A resilient community has well‑maintained and accessible infrastructure and services.

 8. Natural resource management 

A resilient community has access
to, manages and uses its natural
assets in a sustainable manner.

 9. Social cohesion 

A resilient community is socially cohesive.

 10. Inclusion 

A resilient community is inclusive.

 11. Connectedness 

A resilient community is connected.

 
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Step 6

Map stakeholders

Assist the community to map stakeholders using a brainstorming exercise with diverse groups, or the IFRC EVCA toolbox using a Venn diagram or similar tools. Remind them that the goal is to make a list of who can contribute to the community’s resilience. Help organize the resulting list in terms of the 11 dimensions of community resilience. 

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Milestone 3

Connect the community to external stakeholders

 

You will reach this milestone when you have achieved all of the steps below.


Community resilience depends on the connections between people and the social networks, organisations, institutions and businesses around them.


Your National Society should accompany the community and help connect it with local stakeholders. For most communities, key stakeholders (who have an interest in and can contribute to strengthening resilience) include government authorities, community‑based and non‑governmental organizations, private companies, 
and religious institutions. See the tip below for a sample list, by dimensions of community resilience. 


Because of their mandate and auxiliary role, National Societies are in a good position to obtain and hold the attention of governments (see Reference Sheet F).

TABLE 4  Stakeholders by resilience dimension

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 1. Risk management 

 2. Health 

 3. Water and sanitation 

 4. Shelter 

 5. Food and nutrition security 

 6. Economic opportunities 

 7. Infrastructure and services 

 8. Natural resource management 

 9. Social cohesion 

 

 10. Inclusion 

 11. Connectedness 

School teachers, health outreach workers, municipal officials.

Health centre staff, school lunch programme staff, members of the mothers’ union, mining company staff (for water).

 

Municipal officials, large landowners whose plantations consume water, women and girls who buy and transport water, water sellers.

Local construction company, carpenters and masons association, managers and staff of timber yards and logging companies, hardware stores in town.

School lunch programme staff, mothers and grandmothers, government childcare programme staff, church leaders, local traders and shopkeepers.

Managers and staff of the mining company, members of the farming co‑operative, members of the women’s savings group.

Developers, road maintenance officials, managers and staff of the mining company (affects water), municipal officials, managers and staff of the electricity company.

Environment ministry officials at the national and local levels; environmental research institutes; environmental NGOs; local natural resource management groups, e.g., forest user groups and water management groups.

Members of the farming co‑operative; members of the women’s savings group, the mothers’ union, parent‑teacher groups, the football club; people associated with gangs in the capital city; members of youth groups; members of the community council; the priest; members of the neighbourhood watch group; NGO staff working on gender issues.

Members of the indigenous community council.

Officials of the municipal roads authority, local political leaders, staff of the internet café, staff of the mobile phone company.

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Step 7

Enable connections

Assist the community to arrange meetings with organisations they have identified during the stakeholder mapping above. At these meetings, the community resilience team should explain its desire to become more resilient to shocks and stressors (and give locally relevant examples of these) and explore potential collaboration after the community has carried out a risk assessment (Stage 2). See more detail on connecting as a service in Reference Sheet K.


Before each meeting, coach the community resilience team members who will take lead roles in basic presentation, negotiation and advocacy skills. Help them to practice through role‑play and imagining possible scenarios. Accompany them to meetings if they wish, but do not take over the leadership role. If they do not feel ready to fully lead, encourage them to lead parts, and provide complementary input and back‑up support where needed. After each meeting, help those who participated to record the results (see example in Reference Sheet L). Take note of the level of interest displayed or any commitments made, for example, since such information can contribute later to the risk‑informed community action plan (see Stage 2).  

 Travel log: Engage and connect 


Before moving to the next stage, check your progress to see whether you have achieved the minimum requirements for this stage. In the left column is a summary of the recommended approach; and in the right, suggestions to help you adapt the journey to overcome specific challenges in your context or to enhance the community engagement in the process.

 
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Rwanda Red Cross worked closely with the Rwandan government to distribute food to families in a COVID‑19 response. Government is often a vital stakeholder in community resilience efforts.

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Road Map to Community Resilience