Community-managed disaster risk reduction

Cordaid has supported community-managed disaster risk reduction in the Horn of Africa for eight years. This evaluation, conducted by CDI and WU-Disaster Studies, was commissioned as the region emerged from a severe drought (2010/2011).

Drought cycle management: its added value in the recent drought situation

Cordaid has been supporting CMDRR and drought cycle management in the Horn of Africa for eight years. The aim of this study was to verify and quantify the extent to which this work has contributed to building more resilient communities. 

This report drew on field work in Kenya and Ethiopia in November/December 2011, stakeholder interviews, review of documents and data, and feedback from stakeholder workshops. A wealth of largely qualitative evidence is presented to support the finding that CMDRR can indeed build resilience. Importantly, many CMDRR communities themselves attest to being more resilient as a result of CMDRR. 

Strengthening physical assets for resilience

However, measuring those results is difficult. CMDRR helps communities strengthen physical assets for resilience (water development, pastures, animal health care etc.) but its 'edge' may be in the emphasis it places on intangible assets (capacity-building, soft skills, representative process for community organisation and planning) – as the means by which to ensure that interventions are demand-led, well-managed by the community and hence sustainable. Measuring the potentially far-reaching impacts of those 'process' assets requires robust monitoring systems to follow communities over a number of years – and those are not in place.

The study used a multi-faceted approach to probe the quantitative evidence on resilience: how communities score their own resilience; a comparison of secondary data for CMDRR and non-CMDRR communities in 2 districts in Ethiopia; and an assessment of CMDRR costs versus relief costs. These 'tests' yielded somewhat mixed results. The more successful, communities present a strong argument in support of CMDRR, but where the results have been slower to emerge and communities have achieved less resilience, in the short run at least, it is not so clear that this is the best investment. 

Different levels of assistance

The most important recommendation relates to more focus on monitoring, evaluation and learning, coupled with a structured process (of milestones and timelines) that allows the communities and NGOs to 'graduate' to different levels of assistance. This would help identify what works and why, enable resources to be directed to those activities/avenues – and hence increase the success rate.

The second recommendation relates to finding ways to scale-up/scale-out and deliver CMDRR or parts of it through other channels or actors, where it is cost-effective to do so. Further recommendations focus on the more operational lessons that emerged and a number of broader questions relating to the scope of CMDRR and other issues the approach could encompass.