SE23: Building Urban Communities' Resilience to Disaster Risks: Challenges and Experience towards the implementation of the HFA at local level

  • ID: SE23
  • Date & Time: Thursday 18 June (08:00 - 09:30)
  • Room: 13
  • Participation: Open
  • Organizer: ADPC, DDC, ILO/ITC
  • Focal Point: arambepola (at), padma (at), k.aryal (at), a.vozza (at)


The reported number of affected people and damages caused by the severe impact of disasters arising as a result of natural phenomena (loss of human life, social and economic assets, means of subsistence, etc.) is often higher in urban than rural areas. This resembles the fact that the risk of disaster is mainly "social" because a physical event can only cause damage to a society if aspects of that society are exposed to its effects, irrespective of its origin, magnitude or intensity. The level of risk is always proportional to the threats and vulnerabilities, which, like the risk, constitute latent conditions in the society.

It is noteworthy to mention in this context that most of the urban centres, in developing countries, are facing the shortage of their capacities in terms of both technical as well as financial resources either to cope with natural hazards or to take proactive measures that mitigate the risks. The rapid haphazard urbanization processes many countries are facing, contribute to create multiple disaster risk at local and community level. There is a need to promote a more people-centred approach to disaster risk management to build truly resilient communities through local governance. In the context of ‘urban/local risk’ it is important to highlight that the political boundaries of an area cannot define our understanding of ‘local’ or the scope of risk reduction actions or, to an even lesser extent, the area of impact of a disaster. Local sustainable development and disaster risk management are processes that can transcend a limited political or geographical space, a given municipality or a specific community. They take the form of actions within an environment that combines specific cultural, social, productive, and environmental characteristics. They are determined by resources, strengths and capabilities and also by shared hazards and vulnerabilities in the urban-rural extended population. "What was once dispersed rural poverty is now concentrated in urban informal and squatter settlements" . Therefore, building resilience at the local level maintaining relationships and interdependencies connected with coexistence of communities, ecosystems and the activities that are performed within them, has become one of the mainstays of recent disaster risk reduction approaches.

There are a few logical options available to cities and local authorities such as regulatory control in development of hazard prone areas, comprehensive land-use planning with regard to hazard environment, structural interventions for making the buildings and other infrastructure hazard resistant, and community based disaster risk management interventions for enhancing the household level of preparedness etc. However, such initiatives are not getting materialized often due to various reasons such as administrative limitations, political setbacks, resources constraints, insufficient capacities to deal with priorities, lack of accountability etc. Particularly within a community that has not succeeded in introducing development processes that incorporate disaster risk reduction and has built up a high level of vulnerability in its territories, the topic of preparedness assumes an even greater relevance. Improved preparedness initiatives both at city and community level can reduce potential damages and losses substantially.

Effective preparedness plan must incorporate the types of rescue and aid that will ensure not only the survival of local communities after a destructive event, but will also ensure sustainable recovery that can progress toward transformation and reduction of the pre-existing risks. There is a need for having a systematic and preventive approach for forecasting events with higher resolution and longer lead period, improved early warning and effective dissemination to reach most vulnerable communities: available emergency management systems need to be reinforced with scenario-based contingency planning approaches, setting up emergency services such as fire services, establishment of community level first responder mechanisms for supporting professional Search & Rescue teams etc. are ensured to be in place.

Furthermore, to guarantee sustainability to local and urban development processes, disaster risk reduction must be conceived as an on-going process of planning and implementing prevention and alleviation measures that must be designed to address the situations before, during and after a disaster. To build more resilient communities, it is indispensable to strengthen the process of information, strategic planning, dissemination and networking through empowering level decision makers as well as delegating some of the centralized DRM functions to local authorities.

This side event is aimed at providing a platform for sharing experiences and lessons learned and facilitating a discussion forum among international, national, regional and local actors interested in urban and local risk reduction and the promotion of sustainable local development processes.

Expected Outcomes

• Share experiences and best practices worldwide in implementing programs for building disaster resilient communities, with a special focus on urban settings.

• Show how urban/local communities lead resilience activities can be integrated to local development planning to avoid the impact of localised risk

• Discuss the importance of local decision-makers, practitioners and socio-economic actors joint initiatives to achieve the objectives of HFA (2005-2015)

• Present challenges and open the debate among the group of participants on the real implementation of the HFA (2005 – 2015) at the local level.


> Agenda [doc 30.50 KB]

Background Papers

> Building Urban Communities’ Resilience to Disaster Risks: Challenges and Experience towards the implementation of the HFA at local level [DOC, 37.50 Kb]

> ConceptNote_UrbanCommunityResilience_final [PDF, 230.74 Kb]

> Agenda_UrbanCommunityResilience_final [PDF, 215.54 Kb]

> Cooperation between Local Authority and Communities Reduces Flood Disaster Risk in Dagupan City, Philippines [PDF, 4.54 Mb]

> The Boy Who Cried, “Wolf!” or Why a Community-based Alert System is a good idea [PDF, 573.89 Kb]

> Promoting Safer Housing Construction through CBDRM: Community-designed Safe Housing in Post-Xangsane Da Nang City [PDF, 1.75 Mb]

> Community Based Early Warning System and Evacuation: Planning, Development and Testing [PDF, 555.10 Kb]

> Community Empowerment and Disaster Risk Reduction in Chittagong City [PDF, 1.35 Mb]

> Flood Disaster Mitigation and River Rehabilitation by Marikina City, Philippines [PDF, 831.66 Kb]

> Urban Flood Risk Mitigation in Kalutara City, Sri Lanka [PDF, 831.66 Kb]

> Learning to Act Together: Disaster Mitigation in Hyderabad, Pakistan through Collaborative Initiatives [PDF, 666.00 Kb]

> Guide to the Comprehensive Development Plan Preparation [PDF, 4.80 Mb]


> Strengthening capacities at local level to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels [PPT, 10.04 Mb]

> A guide to localizing the Hyogo Framework for Action [PPT, 547.50 Kb]

> Building Disaster Resilience Awareness, Advocacy and Demonstration of good practices of Urban Disaster Risk Reduction: experience from Asia [PPT, 17.7 Mb]

> Local Risk and Resilience Governance: a case study from Dhankuta Municipality and Pachkhal Village Development Committee, Nepal [PPT, 29.2 Mb]

> Earthquake vulnerability reduction in Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong and tsunami/storm vulnerability reduction in coastal cities in Bangladesh [PPT, 52.5 Mb]


Note: this is an interim report pending publication of the Conference Proceedings from the 2009 Global Platform.

> Report from SE23 [PDF, 93.58 Kb]

Last updated: 04 December 2020