Take action to strengthen resilience
This stage helps communities use the evidence they have gathered to take action. Your role as a National Society is to facilitate that process, connect communities with relevant stakeholders, and accompany communities as they identify and take action.
Create a risk‑informed community action plan
You will reach this milestone when you have achieved all of the steps below.
The risk assessment baseline made by the community produced a scorecard of resilience dimensions. When a resilience dimension scores poorly, the community decides whether it wants to address its risks in that area and, if so, how. This is an exciting time when all community members participate with their ideas of how to minimise their risks by reducing the causes of their vulnerabilities and strengthening their capacities. Facilitators need to be skilled in addressing potential conflicts that may surface during the planning process.
Vision and identify actions
To start the planning phase, it is good to do a visioning exercise with the community, motivating them to think about what a safe and resilient community would look like when all the major hazards and threats are minimized. This exercise should help inspire and motivate (see dream map or solution tree tool in the EVCA toolbox).
The next step is to answer the key questions: What do we need to do to get there? What actions can we take to prevent and mitigate a potential disaster? What can we do to address these weaknesses and become more resilient? Note all the ideas on cards and place them in a visible place for reference in the next steps.
Explore internal capacity
Start by exploring the community’s own capacity to address its risk and vulnerabilities.
Compare weak resilience dimensions with the community’s own capacity and resources, to identify capacities to address them. Write (or draw or symbolize, as appropriate) on separate cards the dimensions with the weakest scores. Place the cards on one side of a common space (table or wall). Next, bring in the actions identified in the previous step and ask What resources or capacities do we have in this community that can help us do X action to strengthen dimension Y? Make available empty cards of another colour for participants to record capacities and resources using words or drawings.
Structure the discussion. Examine each dimension one by one, or hold a brainstorm to put many capacities and resources on cards before returning to the weak dimensions.
Repeat the exercise with other groups of people who could not attend the meeting, or who did not feel comfortable enough to contribute.
Summarise the results of the exercise by repeating what the community will do and how.
A woman awaits a food parcel from the Afghan Red Crescent Society. Ensure that anyone who cannot attend a meeting, such as those with a disability, are given opportunity to contribute their ideas.
Identify need for external support
Now turn the community’s attention to the actions that cannot be taken with its own resources. Ask how each dimension with a weak score might be addressed with external support, and note the ideas on cards (of a different colour or size to those used above) or a public board.
Explain that the community should be realistic about how much external support to seek and expect. It is helpful to agree on some criteria to choose priority actions for implementation.
Once the criteria have been agreed, support the community to consider and rank actions (see the Action Planning/Prioritization Tool) aaccording to how many criteria each meets. This should be done in a place where everyone who is able can observe and participate, in order to ensure accountability for the decisions and to manage potential conflict.
Encourage leaders to enable those who cannot attend in person to give their views through a representative, or hold several meetings at different times. When all actions have been ranked, the community leaders should communicate which are the top three to five, depending on what the community feels is feasible for its first plan. They should leave an appropriate period of time for feedback, including anonymous feedback using a sealed box, to ensure there is consensus in the community.
Define activities and resources
One by one, consider all the actions that the community has decided upon in Steps 1 to 4, then break them down into the sets of activities needed to achieve them.
Estimate the additional resources needed, in terms of labour, money, materials, technical assistance and services, and any others (see EVCA/How to do the EVCA/Facilitate planning for template of the risk‑informed community action plan, and Reference Sheet FF on participatory resource planning.) Consider the environmental implications and find alternative options if any are not environmentally friendly.
Repeat the exercise for each action until the community has created a complete risk‑informed community action plan, using the prioritisation criteria in the tip above.
Leave an appropriate period of time for feedback, including anonymous feedback using a sealed box, to ensure anyone who was not present can have their say, and that there is consensus in the community before moving forward.
Finally, when planning the timeframe, consider how known and potential hazards or threats might adversely affect the community while it is implementing its resilience plan, and what can be done to minimise damage and disruption.
If your National Society also has resources to support the community to develop a contingency plan, you can use this step as a transition to that process. A contingency plan is a set of decisions, taken before a threat or hazard event occurs, that will enable the community to respond quickly and effectively to protect lives and assets.
A key component of disaster preparedness, it can also be included as an annex to the risk‑informed community action plan. The assessment of Stage 2 and the actions prioritized by the community in Stage 2 are likely to already include some of these decisions. For example, if the community identified hurricanes as a key threat/hazard, they might already have decided to designate a safe building for community members to go to if their home is unsafe or damaged. Reference Sheet GG provides instructions and templates for contingency planning.
Connect with stakeholders
Because the risk‑informed community action plan needs inputs from external sources, your National Society has an important role to play in connecting the community to other relevant actors, processes and resources. Links to stakeholders with responsibility for local development - usually local government - and disaster management are critical. Any actions the community wants to take to strengthen their resilience must take into account, and whenever possible be aligned with, ongoing development activities and local disaster management plans. The community may also be able to tap into government funding to achieve parts of its risk‑informed community action plan by linking it with the local government planning process.
Assist the community to prepare a presentation of what it wants to do and why, starting with the community factsheet (see Stage 1).
Help set up meetings with external stakeholders who participated in the assessment, and others who might be able to offer resources. T
Share your experience and skills on presenting evidence, requesting action and documenting agreements: this can help the community to take full advantage of opportunities (see Reference Sheet F on auxiliary role and advocacy).
Discuss the process with your National Society’s donors, including partner National Societies. Explore whether your current funding arrangements may permit you to support the risk‑informed community action plan. When requesting new funding, try to build flexibility in from the start.
Once community members consider that they have the resources to carry out the initial activities of one or more of their priority actions, encourage them to begin implementing these, even as they continue to reach out to other potential contributors and partners.
Even if resources are available, talk to community members about how much they can manage, considering all their other responsibilities, workload and chores. Encourage them to think about options, such as forming working groups with different responsibilities that meet periodically to report progress or revising timeframes that prove too ambitious. Use this approach in your National Society too: if various technical teams and volunteer groups are involved, be prepared to adapt, postpone and coordinate in order to provide your support at an appropriate pace.