4.1. Assessing community resilience to understand and develop its capacity to manage crises

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The assessment and monitoring of community resilience prior to, during and after the occurrence of crises allows policy makers to establish interventions and plans in collaboration with community leaders and members, in order to ensure communities will be better able to manage and recover from future events.


Implementation

Introduction

The use of a community resilience assessment process allows policy makers to establish planning to strengthen communities. When the process can be used at different times, it allows for an understanding of how a community can better prepare, is impacted by crises, and recovers from them. The Community resilience assessment process is based on data collection. Thus, could be done by several methods, including community members' survey (recommended), analyzing formal databases or questioning of key informators. The assessment should be managed by experts, but the process of assessment may involve volunteers and un-professional workers.

What is needed to assess community resilience

  • Identify a tool/ method and process for community resilience assessment
  • Conduct assessments at different points in time
  • Identify how assessment results can be turned into interventions in the communities
  • Identify how assessments prior to crises allow for anticipating impact and recovery
  • Anticipate challenges to conduct assessments, especially during crises, and establish alternative methods (e.g., less demanding)
  • Understand limitations and assessments conducted


Before a crisis

Prior to crisis events, decision makers and policy makers use resilience assessment to identify the weaknesses and strengths of the communities under their responsibility. Based on the resilience scores obtained, intervention plans should be made in order to reduce the weaknesses and reinforce the strengths, thus improving the community resilience. Once intervention plans have been implemented, it is useful to perform new assessments in order to identify the impact of the intervention plans on the community. The basic action is to identify a valid method for assessing community resilience. It is essential to use a multi-dimensional method that relates to different aspects of the community, such as leadership, social components, preparedness and infrastructure. There is no a gold standard to assess community resilience, but it is important to choose a validated method to maximise study reliability (for example the CCRAM in the Relevant methods section).

Triggering questions

CR assessment tool
  • Is there an accepted tool for measuring community resilience?

CR assessment process

  • Is the study population representing all population strata, including vulnerable population with special needs?
  • What is the aim of the assessment? To create a baseline? To measure the impact of intervention plan?

CR assessment results

  • How do we translate the study results to intervention plans?
  • How could the organisation (from the whole business/CI sector) be involved in strengthening the community resilience in accordance with the assessment's results?

During a crisis

Measuring the impact of the emergency on the community members during the short period; analyzing trends and gaps between assessment points; Planning intervention plans or applying adapted plans prepared in the past and stored for these situations. Measuring community resilience during emergency is a complicated issue. It is of utmost importance to understand the impact of the emergency situation on the community members, but it is difficult to seek the information and to analyze it.

Triggering questions

CR assessment process
  • Can we measure community resilience during the emergency situation?

CR assessment results

  • What are the factors (independent variables) that are associated with an increase of community resilience score?
  • Does the organisation (from the whole business / CI sector) have a special capabilities and resources to enhance the community resilience?

After a crisis

Measure the impact of the emergency situation on the community members in the long term; assessing the rehabilitation after the emergency. Assessing community resilience after the emergency situation enables to understand the long term impact of the emergency, as well as the rehabilitation process. In case the CR assessment was conducted in several time points (before and during the emergency), it is important that assessment reports refer to results of these assessment.

Triggering questions

CR assessment results
  • Can we understand the impact of the emergency situation on the community?
  • Can we build an intervention plan based on the results of measurements?
  • Does the organisation (from the whole business / CI sector) have special capabilities or resources to enhance the resiliency of the community?



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Understanding the context

Detailed objectives

The resilience of a community during emergency situations has become a core element in the emergency preparedness and response arena, since the local community has a significant role in providing assistance during crises. The term ‘community resilience’ describes a complex construct that encompasses physical dimensions, such as infrastructure, services and protection, along with social aspects, such as leadership, collective efficacy, social cohesion and place attachment. Despite the importance of community resilience, integrating these aspects to an organisational resilient management is innovative. From this perspective, the organisation is perceived as part of "a bigger picture", taking in account the associations between organisations and the local community. The important role of organisations in the community resilience paradigm could be expressed in a wide range of aspects, including functional continuity, providing services and particular assistance, and economic significance. Increasing the involvement of organisations and communities during routine time may strengthen the relationships and cooperation between them, enabling to maximise the potential for action when needed. To deepen this subject, please read the CC dealing with Increasing the public's involvement in resilience management. The assessment of community resilience aims to identify weaknesses and strengths that are relevant for better coping with crisis situations. This process provides comprehensive information for decision makers regarding the way they should strengthen their community. Among communities, the rationale for integrating resilience assessment results and mapping the needs is to focus on addressing the public’s key needs, especially those of vulnerable groups. It is important to mention that although measuring community resilience is mainly aimed to assist in a time of an emergency, it further enriches the community life during the routine times.

Targeted actors

The actors that are directly concerned by this concept card are:

  • decision and policy makers,
  • formal and informal community leaders.

The cornerstone of community leadership in an emergency situation is the local authority. The results of resilience assessment should be provided to decision makers in the local authority. Based on these results they would be able to build (preparedness) and implement interventions and response plans. The capability card applies to management levels as well as operational level during implementation phases.

Expected benefits

Monitoring readiness and measuring the resilience prior to, during and after an emergency situation, reflects the internal resources of the community. Thus, it enables enhancing the community's ability to cope with extreme situations, and reducing the impact of crises and disasters. In mass events, the community members often serve as first responders. Therefore, it is important to strengthen the community as a functioning system. Currently, the resilience of the community is considered as one of the core elements to cope with those situations.

Relation to adaptive capacity

Community resilience assessment includes understanding the community’s capacity to adapt to crisis events. It is part of the information gathered in order to strengthen a community’s resilience, therefore its adaptive capacity.

Relation to risk management

Measuring CR during routine time in the pre-emergency period enables to create a “baseline score” which is presumed to be useful as a reference point for comparison during a crisis period. The magnitude of change and the direction of the change trend can serve as a predictor of a community's ability to sustain crisis events and recover.

Illustration

Despite the perceived importance of community resilience, there is a lack of empirical evidence regarding it. In a longitudinal study conducted among poor rural communities in Honduras before and after Hurricane Mitch (1994–2002). Results indicated that residents were highly vulnerable to the hurricane—due in part to previous development assistance—and that the poorest households were the hardest hit. Surprisingly, however, the disaster led the community well to cope with comparable flooding occurring 10 y later. The study provides compelling evidence that communities can seize the window of opportunity created by climate-induced shocks to generate sustained social-ecological improvement, and suggests that future interventions should foster local capacities for endogenous institutional change to enhance community resilience to climate shocks (McSweeney & Coomes 2011)

Implementation considerations

Challenges

Although the importance of community resilience assessment was established in the professional and scientific literature, it is difficult to implement it due to three main reasons: first, the complexity of the resilience concept requires a validated research tool. The second reason lies in the relationships between the organization and the community. These relations have to be promoted during the pre-emergency periods, taking into account the formal and informal leadership aspects together with investments of resources. The third reason relates to cultural diversity among communities and between communities and organizations.

Implementation cost

There are several approaches to measure resilience. Data collection may be a costly matter. However, preexisting tools and electronic assessment may reduce this cost. It is sometimes possible to measure objective indicators at a lesser cost, however the benefits and introspection following such an assessment can not be compared with the potential contribution of the understanding gained by using community resilience assessment scores as described above.


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Relevant material

Relevant Practices, Methods and Tools

Methods

It is important that the community resilience assessment has practical interpretations, giving to decision makers the possibility to build an intervention plans comprehensively. For example: community resilience assessment conducted by the CCRAM score found that elders have a significant rise in community resilience scores in the age groups of 61–75 years as compared with younger age bands, suggesting that older people in good health may contribute positively to building community resilience for crisis (Cohen et al., 2016a). Studies conducted in the European project ‘DRIVER’ used the CART toolkit’s framework for assessing community resilience among a broad range of rural and urban communities (Davis et al., 2016). They reported that as a result, members of communities became more aware of their own vulnerabilities and capabilities, both at the individual and collective levels, encouraging action as to increase their resilience.

Three methods were described assessment of community resilience in more than one publication.

  1. Communities Advancing Resilience Toolkit (CART- Pfefferbaum et al., 2013)- The Communities Advancing Resilience Toolkit (CART) is a publicly available theory-based and evidence-informed community intervention designed to enhance community resilience by bringing stakeholders together to address community issues in a process that includes assessment, feedback, planning, and action. Tools include a field-tested community resilience survey and other assessment and analytical instruments. The CART process encourages public engagement in problem solving and the development and use of local assets to address community needs.
  2. Conjoint Community Resilience Assessment assessment (CCRAM – Leykin et al., 2013)- The CCRAM has demonstrated its' potential role in establishing a baseline score of community resilience and its' constructs. The CCRAM has two versions: 28 items and 10 items.We recommend to use the short version of the CCRAM during a crisis, a 10 items questionnaire that provides a valid information regarding the CR factors. see at: http://in.bgu.ac.il/en/PREPARED/Pages/ccram.aspx
  3. Climate Disaster Resilience Index (CDRI- Yoon et al., 2016)- A method with five dimensions (economic, institutional, natural, physical, and social), and 25 parameters reflect the abilities of people and institution and communities to respond to potential climate-related disasters.

There are two main methodological approaches to measure community resilience: a “bottom up” VS “top down”. CCRAM and CART correspond to a “bottom up” assessment , which presents the voice of individuals, focusing on the capacities of the community to cope with emergencies. Conducting research by such method provides the decision makers with reliable information regarding the attitudes and feelings of their community members.

Tools

Some of the methods have a version of technical tools designated to assess community resilience. There is a lack of information regarding the experience in using in these tools.

  • CART (Pfefferbaum et al., 2013)-
  • RRI- Rural Resilience Index (Cox & Hamlen, 2014)
  • Community Resilience System Tools and Resources (White et al., 2014)
  • The Sahana mapping software (Eisenman et al, 2014)

References

  • Cox, R. S., & Hamlen, M. (2014). Community disaster resilience and the rural resilience index. American Behavioral Scientist, 0002764214550297.‏
  • Cohen, O., Geva, D., Lahad, M., Bolotin, A., Leykin, D., Goldberg, A., & Aharonson-Daniel, L. (2016a). Community resilience throughout the lifespan–the potential contribution of healthy elders. PLoS one, 11(2), e0148125.‏
  • Cohen, O., Goldberg, A., Lahad, M., & Aharonson-Daniel, L. (2016b). Building resilience: The relationship between information provided by municipal authorities during emergency situations and community resilience. Technological Forecasting and Social Change.‏
  • Davis, S., Duijnhoven, H., Dinesen, C., & Kerstholt, J. H. (2016, September). Strengthening community resilience: a toolkit. In 6th International Conference on Building Resilience, University of Auckland, New Zealand. University of Auckland.‏
  • Eisenman, D., Chandra, A., Fogleman, S., Magana, A., Hendricks, A., Wells, K., ... & Plough, A. (2014). The Los Angeles county community disaster resilience project—A community-level, public health initiative to build community disaster resilience. International journal of environmental research and public health, 11(8), 8475-8490.‏
  • Leykin, D., Lahad, M., Cohen, O., Goldberg, A., & Aharonson-Daniel, L. (2013). Conjoint community resiliency assessment measure-28/10 items (CCRAM28 and CCRAM10): A self-report tool for assessing community resilience. American journal of community psychology, 52(3-4), 313-323.‏
  • McSweeney, K., & Coomes, O. T. (2011). Climate-related disaster opens a window of opportunity for rural poor in northeastern Honduras. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(13), 5203-5208.‏
  • Pfefferbaum, R. L., Pfefferbaum, B., Van Horn, R. L., Klomp, R. W., Norris, F. H., & Reissman, D. B. (2013). The communities advancing resilience toolkit (CART): An intervention to build community resilience to disasters. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 19(3), 250-258.‏
  • White, R. K., Edwards, W. C., Farrar, A., & Plodinec, M. J. (2014). A practical approach to building resilience in America’s communities. American Behavioral Scientist, 0002764214550296.‏
  • Yoon, D. K., Kang, J. E., & Brody, S. D. (2016). A measurement of community disaster resilience in Korea. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 59(3), 436-460.‏


Terminology

  • Community resilience
    Community resilience (CR) describes the community's ability to overcome unexpected changes and crises, mitigating the community’s response. It is a multi-dimensional concept, encompasses both physical and perceptional components (Leykin et al., 2013; Cohen et al., 2016). Comments: Community resilience is perceived as a core element of disaster risk reduction (Source: UNISDR 2015), and as a process rather than outcome. (Source: Norris et al. 2008). Community resilience is not the resiliency of the community members themselves, but their ability to take deliberate, purposeful, and collective action to alleviate the detrimental effects of adverse events on the community (Source: Pfefferbaum et al. 2013). Optimize resource utilization will enhance CR. Communication is essential for capacity building. Ongoing assessment of CR may improve emergency preparedness and response (Leykin et al., 2013; Cohen et al., 2016).


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