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The Red Cross’ 6 characteristics of a resilient community

In this article, we discuss the Red Cross/ Red Crescents' six specific characteristics of resilient communities.
Ambulance of Red Cross
© University of Groningen

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2011) carried out research in the Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean to identify the key characteristics of a resilient community.

It was found that overall resilient communities have six specific characteristics, which are shown in the figure below.

Features of a resilient community

Features of a resilient community, Roadmap to community resilience. Source: IFRC (2016).

A resilient community …

  1. …is knowledgeable, healthy and meets its basic needs. It has the ability to assess, manage and monitor its own risks. It can learn new skills and build on past experiences.
  2. …is socially cohesive. It has the capacity to identify problems, establish priorities and act, drawing on (in)formal networks.
  3. … has economic opportunities. It has a diverse range of employment opportunities, income and financial services. It is flexible, resourceful and has the capacity to accept uncertainty and respond (proactively) to change.
  4. … has well maintained and accessible infrastructure and services. It has strong housing, transport, power, water and sanitation systems. It has the ability to maintain and repair them.
  5. …can manage its natural assets. It recognises their value and has the ability to protect, enhance and maintain them.
  6. …is connected. It has relationships with external actors who provide a wider supportive environment and supply goods and services when needed.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre has proposed to apply these six characteristics to community-level adaptation and climate resilience strengthening in the following way:

A climate-resilient community …

  1. “…has the ability to assess, manage and monitor its risks” – i.e. a climate-resilient community has clear insights into changing risks and new extremes (for example, has taken part in “climate-smart” community risk assessment).
  2. “ …has the capacity to identify problems, establish priorities and act, drawing on (in)formal networks“. For example, has set up local flood based on their own experience, management response committee, local search and rescue team.
  3. “… has the capacity to accept uncertainty and respond proactively to change” – the community is able to plan for new extremes and utilise whatever benefits a changing climate may bring (e.g. is able to adapt to new crop options or longer growing seasons).
  4. “… has strong housing, transport, power, water and sanitation systems” – the community has the capacity to ‘climate-proof’ infrastructure and has developed plans to withstand new extremes and face changing external environmental factors (for example, water provision system and latrines are made “flood-proof”).
  5. “… can manage its natural assets” – i.e. communities applying nature-based solutions which have many co-benefits (for example, communities engage in mangrove planting, reforestation schemes, terracing).
  6. “… has relationships with external actors who provide a wider supportive environment” – communities have access and connections to knowledge centres such as national hydro-meteorological services (the “weather agencies”) providing information on climate trends and projections as well as early warnings of impending disasters and seasonal forecasts.

Through facilitating resilience in communities the Red Cross has developed an in-depth understanding of the characteristics of these communities.

Climate adaptation strategies play an important role in making local communities more resilient to climate change effects.

© University of Groningen
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