The Challenges of Engagement: DRR and Civil Society (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 15)
February 14, 2013 - 9:30am - 11:00am
Online, United States
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Humanitarian actors have increasingly recognized that successful disaster risk reduction (DRR) projects must be conceived as long-term, holistic initiatives geared toward enhancing the ways that states and societies approach resilience. Additionally, the humanitarian sector has learned that the success of long-term projects hinges on the participation of an actively engaged local community. In fact, this notion — that humanitarian action should be centered on the active participation of beneficiaries— underpins the professional standards of the humanitarian sector.
However, in actuality, international actors often treat civil society as an obstacle, and local actors tend to serve merely as minor players in DRR projects. Additionally, governments are not always keen to see the growth of a strong civil society, particularly if this development might generate organized criticism of those who hold governmental power. Such attitudes might not only hinder the implementation of a well-designed project but might also disrupt the genuine contribution of local actors from a project’s inception. The ability of humanitarian and development actors to successfully navigate these challenges will have a lasting impact on how the humanitarian community undertakes such operations in the next decade.
- To what extent are professional standards — such as those developed by the Sphere project — taken into consideration when designing DRR projects? How can the culture around community engagement be changed?
- In the face of weak civil society or governments reluctant to invest in DRR, how can the international community engage to build local resilience?
- In the absence of long-term project funding, how can DRR programs better engage and sustain the commitment of local civil society actors at a project’s inception?
- Emmanuel Luna, University of the Philippines-Diliman (UPD)
- Ali Ardalan, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI)
- Alejandro López Carresi, Center for Disaster and Emergency Management (CEDEM)
- Christina Blunt, Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR)
- Vincenzo Bollettino, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI)