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Bridging the gap between disaster resilience and conflict risk reduction

Source(s):  Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (CORDAID)

Cordaid’s community-managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR) approach works alongside local communities in order to help build and reinforce their disaster resilience. However, it has not yet been fully able to effectively address conflict or conflict risks. Cordaid’s intern in the Resilience unit Eelke Boerema is trying to bridge the gap.

Hazard assessment exercise in refugee settlement Imvepi, Uganda, for South Sudanese refugees. Image: Eelke Boerema.

It does so by facilitating a process wherein community-members are enabled to lead risk assessments, identify their hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities, and design resilient community action plans in order to increase their resilience against disaster risks.

Resilience against disasters and conflict

While this CMDRR approach is currently very strong in building disaster resilience at a community level, it has not yet been fully able to effectively address conflict or conflict risks. This reflects a common trend where integrated disaster-conflict approaches are absent from today’s development sector agenda.

In light of this, Cordaid’s intern in the Resilience unit Eelke Boerema conducted the following research project, aiming to fill this gap and bridge the CMDRR approach with building a community’s resilience against disasters and conflict (risks).

As conflict reinforces fragility, and fragility greatly limits the ability of a community to accommodate, absorb, resist and recover from a multiplicity of disaster risks, this is an important bridge to make in disaster risk reduction approaches.

Training on conducting a Community Risk Assessment, including the mapping of conflict risks, in Uganda. Image: Eelke Boerema.

Main findings and recommendations

Among other research elements, this research followed a CMDRR project implemented in South Sudan between 2015 and 2019, called the ‘Pro-Act’ case. After closely examining this project, it was found that implementing the CMDRR approach had a positive effect on reducing conflict and conflict risk on the community level. For instance, amongst other successes, the establishment of peacebuilding committees that facilitate dialogues between conflicting groups effectively reduced the number of violent incidents and helped to increase social cohesion.

Several obstacles were highlighted through this research, that should be considered moving forward with CMDRR and conflict risk reduction. For example, insufficient documentation of project results due to an insufficient baseline study and lacking indicators greatly hindered the ability to see where the approach was succeeding, reducing the ability to learn from the impacts being made as well as ‘showcasing’ it to possible donors. These limitations, and how one could respond and adapt to them, should be reflected upon and learned from.



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  • Publication date 05 Aug 2019

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