Understand risk and resilience
This stage will guide communities to discuss and assess the relevant community resilience dimensions and how they relate to risk and its determinants, especially vulnerability and capacity. These establish how the community perceives itself and determines the level of community risk. The community risk assessment process generates a holistic understanding of the risk a community faces so that it can plan appropriate solutions to reduce the risks and strengthen its resilience.
FIGURE 3 Key terms
WHERE is it
WHAT do we
have to help
us face it?
HOW does it
or how will it
we do about it?
RISK & RESILIENCE
For definitions of key terms such as risk, and the principles of risk management that underpin this stage of the journey, see Reference Sheet M. For more information on knowledge management, see Reference Sheet N.
Too often, assessment is purely extractive: an outsider goes into a community to ask questions and takes the answers out for independent analysis. In our approach to resilience, the participatory process and ownership of an assessment are as important as the data collected and information shared, if not more important. For this reason, it is critical to review with the community the assessment purpose and perspectives (see more detail in Reference Sheet O).
Over the last 30 years, the RCRC network has developed more than a dozen approaches to assessing communities (see Reference Sheet P). One of these, the Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) was designed specifically to assess community risk.
The Enhanced VCA (EVCA) is the result of an extensive review of the VCA guidance and toolbox and its application within the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. It has been placed within the Road Map to Community Resilience as the main assessment approach, with tools, analysis and reporting adapted to facilitate the collection and analysis of community resilience dimensions. The EVCA process and EVCA toolbox (included in the Reference Sheets) also now includes climate change and environment as well as gender and diversity considerations, and provides guidance for assessing in urban and conflict contexts with appropriate technology or digital tools.
Below, we use EVCA and community risk assessment interchangeably, as EVCA is the Movement’s main community risk assessment package. The R2R adaptation boxes (see the full version of the R2R v2) provide advice that you may want to explore, and encourage you to build capacity to use more flexible and enabling assessment techniques. Depending on your level of facilitation experience, you may wish to incorporate these adaptations.
Prepare to assess
You will reach this milestone when you have achieved all of the steps below.
Lay foundation for the process
Enable the community to own the objectives and the process by supporting the community resilience team to:
Check whether the objective of the community risk assessment is clear to everyone in the community and resonates with them.
Verify whether the community has been involved in similar community risk assessments in the past and ask what their experience was, what worked well and what they would like to see changed.
Clarify the expected role of the community and the different actors in the assessment and planning process.
Clarify which voices, subgroups or profiles need to be accounted for in the assessment processes.
Explain clearly the practical aspects linked to the EVCA for example, if lunch and/or money for transport will be provided during and after the community risk assessment.
If the community has questions, take time to address them. Ask whether the community is happy to proceed with the community risk assessment, and if so formally invite them.
Reconfirm community consent to take photographs or videos if needed. If it is not possible to obtain consent or supervision, the exercise must be cancelled and, where possible, rescheduled.
Explain available options for feedback and complaints mechanisms set up by the community resilience team. See the Community Engagement Hub for guidance and resources on setting up a feedback and complaints mechanism.
Obtain relevant permissions and clearances from the authorities for collecting data.
Noting community feedback and complaints is vital. A Red Cross
volunteer in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo engages with community members to respond to their concerns and questions.
Schedule and budget the assessment
Schedule the EVCA process in close collaboration with the community
Work with the community to make a schedule and workplan. Typical sequencing for both rural and urban contexts is shown in the table.”
Full EVCA process (including assessing the community resilience dimensions)
Introductions and the hazard/threat assessment
Vulnerability and capacity assessment (using the 11 dimensions of a resilient community)
Analysis and conclusions on risk levels
Half day to 1 day
2 days broken into 3‑4 sessions
2 half days
Event Rural Urban
TABLE 5 Typical sequencing
Download Table 5
The plan should also consider the time of year to conduct the EVCA. It is important to conduct it when community members are less busy and can effectively contribute, for example, times of less intensive day labor according to crop cycles, or tourism. In addition, EVCA should be planned during peace time in advance of extreme weather seasons.
Other factors that may influence timing include when results are needed to feed into the local government planning process and project timelines. You may also need to repeat data collection events to include marginalized groups within the community identified above. Establish how many events are to be scheduled and who will lead data collection. Forms to help organise the schedule are available in Reference Sheet Q on assessment scheduling.
Through the community resilience team, consult with the community about the proposed schedule and formally invite individuals from the wider community to participate. Make sure that information about the date, time, venue, purpose and persons required for each activity is communicated well to the full community, including marginalised community members and all relevant stakeholders. Consider carefully whom to invite and be sensitive to power relations, dependency, etc.
Support community to list needed materials and create a budget for the assessment
Identify what resources will be needed during the assessment, guided by the National Society’s resilience team, and subsequently adapted once branch office staff and volunteers from targeted communities have been selected and trained. The workplan and budget should identify the key resources required (venue, snacks, materials, equipment, vehicles, expertise), timeframe and responsible people.
Be aware of privacy, consent and protecting the identities of those you collect data about.
An EVCA does not need to be expensive; the resources needed most are the time, energy and commitment of the community, volunteers and branch.
Plan assessment logistics. As in Stage 1, reserve the venue(s) for any large meetings needed for the assessment process and make transport arrangements as needed.
Now that you have taken the necessary steps, you are ready to get the community started on its risk assessment.
Measure community risk and resilience
You will reach this milestone when you have achieved all of the steps below.
The Road Map to Community Resilience applies the well‑known EVCA approach and employs the 11 dimensions of community resilience to help organise the data and information collected. The EVCA is structured to guide the community to identify the determinants of risk (threats/hazards, exposure, vulnerability, capacity), and assess vulnerability and capacity using the community resilience dimensions. The community helps analyse the information and evidence to determine priority risks to be addressed through a risk‑informed action plan to strengthen community resilience. Much of the assessment can draw on standard indicators by resilience characteristic (see Reference Sheet R).
The national resilience team may also consider using the Community Resilience Measurement Dashboard. The dashboard’s measurement tools include the Resilience Star, Resilience Radar and Resilience Scan. The Star, based on the risk data from the EVCA, is qualitative, while the Radar, based on data from surveys, is quantitative. The Scan is a tool to measure community resilience by collecting secondary information and insights from local experts. The Star or the Scan may be applied to some selected communities, in parallel with the Radar, to cross-check measurement results.
Understand the main hazards or threats
Anchor the assessment in key terms understood by the community.
If not already completed in Stage 1, it is important to now build the foundation for the assessment by introducing key terms and translating them into the local language for better understanding by the community. This can be done through a story or game (see Reference Sheet E). Limit it to a few key concepts, such as hazard, vulnerability, capacity and risk. The aim is for the community to understand the key determinants of risk by linking the concepts to their local expressions and world views. There may not always be an exact translation of the terms in another language, in which case a description and practical examples may be helpful.
In Steps 4 to 9 below, you will find a proposed sequence of the assessment process with suggested tools that help gather required information per step. This is only a suggestion as tools can be often used in more than one way.
The selection of EVCA tools is also described in greater detail in Reference Sheet S.
Help the community brainstorm hazards or threats
What are we most afraid of? What affects us? In this assessment, a hazard or threat can be expressed as “we get sick more and more often”, “it has become dangerous to cross the roads”, “we don’t feel safe”, “we get injured in earthquake” or “we lose our crops in droughts or floods”. Welcome all ideas and help the community produce a thorough list of possible and perceived shocks, hazards or threats.
Employ the enhanced VCA tools and methods to explore local hazards/threats
The tools and methods can be used to explore local hazards or threats across space (hazard/threat exposure mapping), across time (historical profile and visualization, disaster history, seasonal and climate‑adapted calendars), and across social groups (repeating the tools in different social groups to take account of age, gender, ethnicity, livelihood groups, etc.). Highlight emerging and changing hazards and threats, especially due to climate change or land‑use changes. Probe and challenge the community with information and statistics gathered in Stage 1 through the secondary data review and community factsheet. Some of the most common tools to explore hazards or threats are: historical profile, seasonal calendar, mapping, transect walk, and many more (see EVCA toolbox).
Tips and guidance on hazard/threat identification and analysis can be found in Reference Sheet T, suggestions on exposure and vulnerability mapping in Reference Sheet U (along with the EVCA toolbox) and guidance on sampling in Reference Sheet V.
Rate community‑perceived hazards/threats
After the community has adequately explored hazards and threats, lead them to prioritize the most important hazard or threat based on impact and frequency. To address the most serious problems first, encourage the community to limit the number of hazards or threats to a maximum of three.
Rating can be done in many ways and must be considered fair and inclusive. Encourage community members to think carefully about different prioritization methods and choose the best one for them (see Reference Sheet W on prioritization).
Characterise the priority hazards and exposure
Accompany the community or a smaller group to analyse and describe the nature and behaviour of and exposure to the top three hazards (origin/cause, warning signs, lead time, frequency, duration). Triangulate the community information with external expertise - for instance, from relevant specialists at universities or the national meteorological agency -and bring the information into the community discussions.
See also Reference Sheet U on exposure and vulnerability mapping.
Brainstorm exposure of vulnerable groups, and assets within the community
Explore which areas, structures or groups are most directly impacted by each hazard. When a hazard strikes a community, the most vulnerable will often be more affected. It is important to identify the most vulnerable groups per hazard or threat and specify their particularities. You will need to refer to these groups when analysing the evidence on risks and preparing the risk‑informed community action plan. This is because all interventions to reduce risk should either benefit the whole community evenly or have a specific focus on groups who are most exposed or at risk. See Reference Sheet V on sampling.
Understand vulnerability and capacity
The Resilience Star helps explore vulnerabilities and capacities aligned to the dimensions of resilience for each hazard or threat. This tool can become an anchor for the enhanced community Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment. You can start with the star as a tool to facilitate brainstorming and participatory inventorying of vulnerabilities and capacities. Return to it each time you gather more perspectives or complete EVCA tools to consolidate the information.
Display the 11 dimensions of resilience in a table or star formation in the local language in a visible location (see the tables in Stage 1). Choose any format that will be easily understood or that engages participants. With the community, contextualize the 11 resilience dimensions by using local language and/or symbols until they are clearly understood by everyone in the community. Also make visible and available a list of the top hazards/threats from Step 3. For each of the 11 resilience dimensions, discuss vulnerabilities and capacities in relation to the top hazards or threats. See tip below for more details on how to use the Resilience Star, and Reference Sheet X.
Example of a Resilience Star
Insist on inclusive data techniques for collection and analysis
It is important to analyse all vulnerabilities and capacities the community can think of, always reflecting the perspectives of pertinent vulnerable groups.
Remember the subgroups of people in the community who may face specific risks and concerns (see Step 3 above). Adapt the EVCA instruments to ensure that everyone can participate, and you can identify data for each of those subgroups.
TABLE 6 Disaggregated inclusive analysis
Download Table 6
Women versus men
Differently abled versus abled
Livelihood differences: fisherpeople versus farmers
Youth versus elderly
Lowland versus highland
Women prioritise health risks, while men prioritise weather‑related risks, etc.
Only 7 per cent of those with disabilities, but 52 per cent of the general population, have access to…
Most fisherpeople’s households have roofs made of natural materials, while most farmers’ households have steel roofs.
Comparison groups Main differences (examples)
Explore and rate risk for the eight sectoral dimensions
This step involves scoring how a community is doing in eight sectoral dimensions (these are the eight among the 11 that represent technical sectors; the remaining three will be explored in the next step). For these dimensions, it is likely that the community will recognise different situations triggered by each of the priority hazards/threats.
If there are clear differences, complete this step separately for each of the priority hazards/threats. Choose one of the following ways that works best in your context:
Organise the community into three groups under the leadership of one member of the community resilience team. Each group will focus on one priority hazard/threat; OR
Time allowing, keep all participants together and repeat the full process below three times in sequence, one for each priority hazard/threat.
Analyse how priority hazards/threats affect the eight sectoral dimensions
Select a few EVCA techniques that adequately capture the eight technical sectors to apply in focus groups, interviews or site visits. These typically include mapping geographic vulnerability and transect walks, direct observation, and problem trees. See Reference Sheet S on EVCA tool selection and Reference Sheet U on mapping techniques. If you can’t get enough information for some sectors, you could also carry out additional assessments, for example, on shelter (PASSA), livelihoods (HES) or health (see Step 8 below). For additional ideas on how to get the community to develop indicators for these concepts, see Reference Sheet Z.
Consolidate information on the Resilience Star
Return to the Resilience Star to add the key findings from the different assessment tools. Don’t lose the important details: it is critical to summarize vulnerability and capacity findings according to each hazard/threat and dimension, and to determine what makes the community most vulnerable to each hazard/threat and what capacities exist to mitigate against the hazard/threat. See Reference Sheet BB on triangulation and analysis.
Rate risk using the sectoral dimensions of vulnerability and capacity
Review all the evidence compiled through the EVCA tools and guide the community to produce one risk score per dimension/hazard pair by comparing all the vulnerabilities versus capacities for each dimension. This would entail 24 scores (8 dimensions x 3 priority hazards). The risk ratings should use a simple format such as no, low, medium and high (see Figure 5). This scoring will require a subjective judgement by the community, using all the information that was collected. Post the 24 scores on the Resilience Star.
Support the risk rating for each dimension with a statement summarizing the risk analysis for that dimension (see Reference Sheet CC on EVCA summative analysis and rating and Reference Sheet DD on data reduction).
Example of a rating scheme
Explore and rate risk for the three social dimensions
Now that you have finished exploring the eight sectoral dimensions, it is time to repeat the same process for the three remaining social dimensions.
Determine which dimensions of community resilience would be influenced equally by any hazard/threat
The community resilience team should remind the community about the 11 resilience dimensions, then guide the community to remember which dimensions are influenced in the same way by each of the priority hazards or threats. While it is best to let the community propose these, this would normally concern the following dimensions:
Is socially cohesive
Ask the community to explain the three social dimensions in their own words - to describe relationships both inside communities and with others outside. See Reference Sheet Y for some techniques to guide the discussion.
Tip: Social cohesion, inclusion and connectedness
Social cohesion is the extent to which people draw on informal and formal community networks of support to identify problems, needs and opportunities, establish priorities, and act for the good and inclusion of all in the community.
Inclusion is the extent to which decision‑making and management of community affairs is inclusive of all genders, persons with disabilities and any ethnic, religious or political subgroups in the community.
Connectedness is strong and supportive relationships with local government authorities and other external organisations, as well as access to information. Remember the stakeholder mapping you conducted in Stage 1.
Analyse relationships both inside the community and with those outside
Start with the stakeholder list or mapping started in Stage 1. Use techniques such as a Venn diagram to guide the community to explore the internal relationships in greater detail. Internally, this will reflect the two dimensions of social cohesion and inclusion (see above for the differences). See Reference Sheet Y for Venn diagrams.
In an outer loop of the same diagram or a separate one, map relationships the community has with external stakeholders and services. This represents the connectedness dimension.
Make sure the vulnerable groups identified in Step 3 feature clearly on both maps. During both mapping exercises, discuss which relationships represent strengths (such as contacts or services you can build on) and weaknesses, vulnerabilities defined by the absence of positive relationships or known conflicts. Place coloured sticky notes for vulnerability and capacity on the appropriate part of the Resilience Star.
Score the social dimensions of vulnerability and capacity
After the mapping or data collection on these three dimensions has been completed, step back to see the big picture of the social dynamics. Ask the community what they can conclude from this part of the exercise.
Look at the evidence for each social dimension (social cohesion, inclusion and connectedness) one at a time, and guide the community to produce a simple rating of itself as no, low, medium or high risk. See Figure 5 above and Reference Sheet CC on risk rating.
Importantly, these four terms encapsulate both vulnerability and capacity. Green is considered the best level -characterised by low risk and strong capacity, and light or no vulnerability in the community. Red is the weakest level, with high risk and/or highest vulnerability and/or low/no capacity. Discuss as a group and decide together which score is appropriate to describe the current situation per dimension.
Consolidate information on the Resilience Star
Return to the Resilience Star to post the agreed scores and key findings in a central location that everyone in the community can access. Make sure the notes portraying vulnerability and capacity also remain visible proofs of the community’s perceptions. It is important to discuss and document details and justifications to be included in reports.
Measure resilience, report and validate
This step aims to consolidate the work in Steps 1 to 6, to bring together the priority threats/hazards, the sectoral and then the social dimensions of resilience.
Enable the community to combine the scores of all 11 dimensions (across the three hazard/threats) to obtain an overall single measure of resilience. At this point, the community would have 27 scores from Steps 5 and 6 above: 24 risk scores for the sectoral dimensions and 3 for the social dimensions.
Return to the Resilience Star with the 27 scores and key findings, and discuss how to rate the resilience level across the 11 dimensions from 0 (no resilience) to 1 (strong resilience). Use Figure 5 as a reference when determining the resilience score per dimension. For example, if the Health risk is rated as “Medium”, the resilience score is between 0.25 and 0.50. By using the key findings and through group discussion, agree on what the actual resilience score should be for each dimension. See the table below for rating resilience:
EVCA Risk Score
0.00 – 0.25
0.26 – 0.50
0.51 – 0.75
0.76 – 1.00
Enable the community to discuss what the resilience scores mean. The community’s goal should be to move towards a higher resilience level (green) or to a better score of resilience each time measurements are taken.
Turn your assessment results into a baseline resilience assessment report
The community should now have a better sense of the extent to which it is already resilient. Later, they will want to know whether their risk reduction and resilience‑building efforts did in fact lead to a more resilient community.
At this point, you are able to turn assessment results into a more formal EVCA or resilience report.
Once the report is shared widely and validated, the community may be ready to explore what actions it can take to strengthen its resilience. While it will be useful to compare the community’s overall resilience score over time (and to compare its score with that of other communities engaged in the same process), communities use the scores of each resilience dimension primarily to decide what actions they will take to improve their resilience (Stage 3). If the community is ready to take action, go to Stage 3.
The community may have identified a dimension that requires more information before they can make a decision about solutions or actions to build resilience.
If the community decides they need more information, explain what expertise your National Society can provide from in‑depth assessments (for links, see Reference Sheet P on community assessment approaches). If the community would like to make a deeper analysis, connect them to the relevant sectoral team in your National Society to make arrangements.
If your National Society does not have expertise in the community’s weakest areas, you can encourage community members to review their stakeholder (or social dimension) mapping to see whether other government, nongovernment or commercial entities might help. Here you can use a simple matrix called 3W (Who, Where, What). Also, use your NS auxiliary role to connect the community to other levels, such as regional or national governments. This may involve assisting the community with advocacy (see Stage 4) to gain official attention or resources.