This study documents a number of case studies where grassroots women’s organizations are working in partnership with their local or national governments to effectively manage disaster and climate risk in poor communities. The work aims to demonstrate the value of facilitating community-led partnerships for strengthening disaster and climate resilience. 


Why community-led partnerships matter

Recurring large-scale disasters coupled with smaller localized events and changing weather patterns call for strategies that effectively address local impacts of natural hazards and climate change. In recent years, policymakers and civil society organizations have noted that national legislation, policies and programs in place to advance disaster and climate resilience have not yielded results at local levels1Global Network of CSOs for DRR ‘Views from the Frontlines’ 2009 and 2011 www. http://www.globalnetwork-dr.org/views-from-the-frontline/voices-from-the-frontline-2011.html, particularly for communities that already suffer from structural inequalities and marginalization. Experience has shown that governments need the collaboration of local communities who live and work in hazard prone areas to ensure that proposed solutions strengthen the resilience of rural and urban poor communities that are most adversely affected by natural hazards and a changing climate.

Yet many policymakers are unaware that community-driven initiatives are already underway addressing the needs of impoverished, marginalized communities in the face of disaster and climate change.

These initiatives have built multi-stakeholder partnerships with local and national governments, universities, researchers and the private sector. When successful, the results invariably benefit all concerned. National and local governments are able to design and deliver effective programs that fulfill their commitments to marginalized populations, as community partnerships help ground government policies and practice in local realities. At the same time, communities driving local action benefit by gaining access to public resources, technical training, and decision-making processes to scale up and sustain their initiatives, equipping them to better withstand the potentially devastating effects of disasters. In addition, partnerships are transforming relationships between communities and other stakeholders, recognizing communities as active agents, citizens, constituents, and stakeholders who have knowledge, experience, and capacities to contribute to problem-solving. Most importantly these partnerships are precedent-setting, demonstrating that reducing the impacts of disasters and climate change requires new kinds of collaborative strategies in which communities must play a central role.


Who are “Communities”?

Throughout this study, the term “community” is used as shorthand for community-based organizations (CBOs). CBOs are organized by people who live and work in impoverished rural and urban communities, usually with low, unstable incomes and who suffer food insecurity, inadequate housing infrastructure and basic services, and environmental degradation where they live. As a voice for these populations, CBOs tend to represent the people most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) often play a key role in facilitating community-driven partnerships and tend to be viewed as professionalized civil society organizations. This document focuses instead on the contributions of CBOs in order to highlight the role of resident communities in advancing their own sustainable and resilient development.

The community-led partnerships discussed here present a broad spectrum of works-in-progress across eight countries, at national, sub-regional, and local levels.

They include formal and informal negotiations, collaborations, and platform building, all of which are based on continuing engagement and learning. Each of the community-led partnerships builds on two foundational engagement strategies:

Women’s Empowerment Strategies to position grassroots women from impoverished communities as leaders and active agents of development in their own communities. Strategies are designed to empower women for roles in organizing, networking, and constituency building, demonstrating grassroots-led practices and partnership building.

Local-to-Local Dialogue enabling grassroots women’s groups to initiate on-going dialogue with local authorities to convey grassroots accomplishments and negotiate development issues and access to resources2Huairou Commission and UNHabitat (2004) ‘Local to Local Dialogue: A Grassroots Women’s Perspective on Good Governance’. This is one of the few mechanisms and opportunities available for grassroots women to strategically organize and constructively engage authorities about local development priorities3See Goldenberg, Dahlia (2008) ‘Grassroots women’s leadership and ‘deepening democracy': the Huairou Commission’s Local to Local Dialogue Replication’, Gender & Development, 16:3,443 — 456; and Huairou Commission (2011) The Local-to-Local Dialogue Resource Manual; A Guide for Grassroots Women-Led Engagement with Local Government and Decision Makers, New York..


Conclusions

Community-based collaborations underway in Brazil, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Ne- pal, Philippines and Uganda evidence the creative approaches that grassroots organizations are advancing for resilient development. In connecting community initiatives and priorities to local and national government programs and policies, governments can be increasingly effective in the delivery and implementation of their programs and services, as well as more responsive and accountable to the needs of disaster-prone communities. Communities gain additional important benefi s from these institutional partnerships. First, everyday living con- ditions can be greatly improved for community members, with higher incomes, increased productivity, food security, and access to resources and technology, as well as better public infrastructure and basic services. Any or all of these advances help to reduce the stresses that the poor or vulnerable experience on a daily basis. Second, improved well-being and greater stability equip communities to better withstand and combat the adverse effects of natural disasters, hazards and climate change. Third, the partnerships transform the rela- tionships between local communities and other institutional actors, positioning grassroots communities as proactive, knowledgeable stakeholders taking a determining role in their own resilience and development. As illustrated throughout the case studies, local and national governments are increasingly inviting community representatives to decision-making posi- tions, recognizing them as legitimate recipients of technical support, assigning to them public roles as trainers and monitors, enabling them to influence public policy and decision-making processes and resourcing them through institutional funds.

In 2015, as people work to forge new policy agreements that re-imagine the future of our planet, community-driven partnerships will play an increasingly critical role in the successful delivery of new policy frameworks to advance development that is pro-poor, gender-equitable and resilient.
The following recommendations are key to promoting community-led partnerships for building disaster and climate resilience in poor communities.

  • Develop dialogue mechanisms and forums that enable communities to regularly engage other stakeholders, including the government and private sector.
  • Allocate decentralized flexible resources for community-led risk analysis and pri- oritization, resilience agenda setting, demonstration of resilience practices, and scaling-up of effective community-led resilience practices.
  • Create incentives for local, national and sub-national governments, policy institutions and researchers to partner with communities to advance resilient development.
  • Formally assign public roles to communities, granting greater visibility for their demonstrated capacities and expertise in planning, training, implementing and monitoring disaster resilience.
  • Scale up, institutionalize and formalize community-led practices and partnerships that demonstrate effective win-win solutions

Download the full report here.

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References   [ + ]

1. Global Network of CSOs for DRR ‘Views from the Frontlines’ 2009 and 2011 www. http://www.globalnetwork-dr.org/views-from-the-frontline/voices-from-the-frontline-2011.html
2. Huairou Commission and UNHabitat (2004) ‘Local to Local Dialogue: A Grassroots Women’s Perspective on Good Governance’
3. See Goldenberg, Dahlia (2008) ‘Grassroots women’s leadership and ‘deepening democracy': the Huairou Commission’s Local to Local Dialogue Replication’, Gender & Development, 16:3,443 — 456; and Huairou Commission (2011) The Local-to-Local Dialogue Resource Manual; A Guide for Grassroots Women-Led Engagement with Local Government and Decision Makers, New York.