Community-based Disaster Management (CBDM)

What is CBDM?

Community-based disaster management (CBDM) is an approach to building the capacity of communities to assess their vulnerability to both human-induced and natural hazards and develop strategies and resources necessary to prevent and/or mitigate the impact of identified threats and respond to rehabilitate, reconstruct the following its onset. CBDM strategies have become increasingly important in global climate change, increased populations expanding into more vulnerable regions, and the heightened recognition of a need for more significant linkages between top-down governmental and community-level responses. CBDM empowers communities to be proactive in disaster management and creates a space to develop strategies on their own terms rather than waiting for overstretched governments and NGOs.

Features, Steps, Principles & Process of CBDM

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Community-based disaster management (CBDM)is a new concept that emerged from the bottom-up approach (Alternative Perspective). It can be seen as risk reduction programs designed primarily by and for the people in some disaster-prone regions, where participation of the entire community is necessary (Ariyabandu, 2003:7). It is recognised in a community-based approach that communities are knowledgeable about the disasters happening and can anticipate their effects. So, communities are put at the forefront of CBDM. However, communities may not be scientific incomprehension, but the richness of experience and indigenous knowledge is a resource to be recognised. If their resources are developed with proper training and information, the communities would be able to safeguard and minimises disaster risks. Therefore, local capacities must be strengthened to assess risks and develop mitigation strategies based on the communities' human, financial, information and material resources (Yodmani, 2001:5). Hence, community-based disaster management has been used in this study as the process in which disaster management plans and programs are prepared and implemented at the local level, where community participation is ensured in every stage; and knowledge, experience, problems, needs and resources of a particular community are recognised in this process.


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CBDM, by its very nature, demands a decentralised bottoms-up approach with intensive micro-interventions at the local Panchayats, ward or village level to generate confidence, awareness, knowledge, partnership, and ownership for planning and rolling out local disaster management plans encompassing all levels of disaster management continuum.

Equity and inclusion of marginalised segments of the society and bringing the vulnerable groups to the centre stage of planning and implementation of the CBDM have to be prioritised to make the programme participatory and inclusive. Disasters affect the entire community. However, persons with disability, women and children, the underprivileged, older, and pregnant women need special attention at the programme implementation level. Such rights and human dignity based inclusive ethos created by such programmes will empower communities and display resilience in times of crisis.


Capacity building and training of community volunteers are the mainstays of community-based disaster management since they are the first responders. Considering many stakeholders and community representatives that need to be sensitised and trained, it is essential that capacity building and training interventions be meticulously planned for CBDM. CBDM should converge with existing mainstream institutional mechanisms and social welfare delivery programmes to make it holistic, cost-effective, multi-dimensional and community-centric.


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What is CBDRM?


Community-Based Disaster Management (CBDM) or Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) is the practice of disaster risk management in which at-risk communities actively identify, analyse, and assess the disaster risks for their own pursuits to reduce their vulnerabilities and enhance their capabilities. CBDM is actually an approach to disaster management where the communities at risk are at the centre of the disaster. That involves the community in a way that they decide what to do when to do and how to do it to minimise the risk of catastrophe.


Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) is an approach to promoting the involvement of grassroots community disaster risk management at the local level. A series of efforts are required, including community self-interpretation of hazards and disaster risk, reduction and monitoring and evaluation of their own performance in disaster risk reduction. However, the key to both is an optimal mobilisation of resources that the community has and has control over and becomes an integral part of the community's daily lives (Paripurno, 2006a). Understanding is essential because grassroots communities living with hazards are not helpless people as the technocrats would refer them. Failure in such knowledge will lead to unsustainable disaster risk reduction at the grassroots level. If disaster risk reduction agendas do not come from the awareness of local community capacity and community priority, the effort will not be sustainable.


Recognising the limitations, the Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM) approach promotes a bottom-up approach working in harmony with the top-down approach to address the challenges and difficulties. To be effective, local communities must be supported in analysing their hazardous conditions, vulnerabilities and capacities as they see themselves. 


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Five Essential Requisites of CBDM/CBDRM


a) Capability building in disaster management - sustained education and training activities; sustained public awareness using local language and culture 

b) Community Disaster Response Organization - disaster management teams, disaster response committee, disaster management committee, disaster management network; etc. 

c) Counter Disaster Plan – Emergency/Contingency Plan; Counter Disaster Plan; Preparedness and Mitigation Plan; Community Development Plan 

d) Disasters Risk Reduction – Development Continuum - linking vulnerability reduction and capacity building to achieving sustainable people-centred development 

e) Partnerships in Disaster Risk Reduction - partnerships of the vulnerable sectors with less vulnerable groups in CBDM; partnerships of the community with local government, NGOs and other communities


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7 Steps and Process of CBDRM

Disaster risk reduction(DRR) or CBDRM process consists of seven steps, and these are mentioned in the following;


1. Selection of the community         
2. Rapport building and understanding of the identified community
3. Participatory community risk assessment
4. Participatory action planning

5. Formation of Community Disaster Response Organization 

6. Community-led implementation of the project

7. Participatory monitoring and evaluation of the CBDRM project


Selection of The Community


The first task of local authorities is to conduct a detailed risk assessment survey of the whole area under its jurisdiction. The selection of communities for implementation of CBDRM activities depends upon a number of factors and criteria, but most importantly the risk exposure of the particular community. 

Given below is a list of the criteria for identifying communities for CBDRM activities: 


The severity of the community’s exposure to risk (most vulnerable) 

Number of people to benefit from Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities 

Readiness of community to engage in Disaster Risk Reduction activities 

Poverty status of the community 

Governmental priority of physical, social and economic vulnerability 

Budget availability 

Accessibility 


All of the above mentioned criteria wouldn’t be equally important in a given area. The local authorities can make decisions on the basis of factors that might be more important locally, than the others. A thorough survey will need to be conducted the identification of vulnerable communities. 


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Rapport Building and Understanding the Identified Community


Once the most vulnerable communities are identified it would be important to understand the local social relationships and power structures, and key economic groups and to build a good informal relationship with the local people. This will be crucial in order to ensure the participation of various local groups. The local authorities and NGOs who support the community in disaster risk reduction need to build a picture of the nature, needs and resources of the community. This step usually involves interacting and integrating with the community and gathering basic information to have a general description of the community.


A relationship of trust and friendship is the key to facilitating effective participation. If community members have trust in the outsiders who are working with them, then open sharing about issues, problems, concerns and solutions can take place. Local authorities can take a number of actions in order to develop trust with and an understanding of the community. This can include the following (Chambers, 1997): 


Living in the community 

Being transparent and open about their purpose 

Participating in daily life activities in the community, and cultural events 

Listening to the issues and problems of local people 

Learning new skills from local people 

Performing local tasks 


The behaviour of local authority staff is very important in establishing a proper relationship of trust and openness. Ways in which they should behave include: 


Show humility 

Respect local culture, problems and way of life 

Be patient 

Have an interest in what people have to say 

Be observant rather than judgmental 

Have confidence that local people can achieve what they set out to do, and transmit that confidence


Participatory Community Risk Assessment


Participatory Disaster Risk Assessment is a process to identify the risks that communities, villages, and communes face and how people overcome those risks. This will be conducted in the most vulnerable and priority communities. This process involves hazard assessment, vulnerability assessment and capacity assessment, and analysis and prioritisation of risks. The participatory disaster risk assessment will be conducted by the local authorities with the involvement of local people, community leaders and subject experts.


Community-based Disaster Risk Management Planning


At this stage, further analysis will be conducted jointly by the local authorities and communities to analyse the risks and identify strategies and solutions to address them. Based on this analysis, a detailed risk reduction and response plan will be developed for the particular communities. The planning process will involve an analysis of local stakeholders and local resources. The roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders for the implementation of activities will be clarified.


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Formation of Community Disaster Response Organization 


Community organising and mobilisation, capability building in preparedness and mitigation, organisational development, strengthening and making community-based disaster risk reduction organisations, and providing education and training. 


Community Managed Implementation 


The implementation of the plan should be done through the community organisation at the community level with support from local authorities and technical and research institutions. The implementation process will include various structural and non-structural activities; e.g. community training, disaster response drills, community early warning systems, disaster-resilient construction of houses, forest plantations, mangrove plantation, diversification of crops, rainwater harvesting, construction of dykes, bridges etc for vulnerability reduction and hazard mitigation. The community-based organisation would be responsible for the overall management of the disaster reduction activities. The local authorities should play a facilitating and coordinating role in implementing the community plan and mobilising resources. They would also need to provide essential technical assistance to the communities for hazard mitigation and vulnerability reduction. Since the local communities may not have the technical skills and knowledge to undertake various disaster reduction tasks, e.g. construction of dyke, construction of disaster-resistant houses, or hazard assessment.


Participatory monitoring and evaluation of the CBDRM project


Participatory monitoring and evaluation (PME) involves the local community, development agencies, local authorities and other stakeholders in measuring the progress made, and identifying necessary follow-up actions. Within this process, the formation and strengthening of a community disaster response organisation or community disaster management volunteers team is the key to mobilising communities for sustainable disaster risk reduction. The community volunteers, disaster management committee, and disaster response organisation are the necessary interface or the channel for outsiders such as NGOs or government agencies to assist/support the community at large. The community groups and organisations are essential in sustaining the risk reduction process for the community to meet intended aims and targets in CBDM.


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Seven Major Features of CBDM/CBDRM


1. Communication on disaster risk: Data and information are more symmetrical and richer; more rapid information sharing among stakeholders 

2. Transaction of knowledge and practice: Expertise is done "peer-to-peer" between the community and experts/ facilitators. 

3. Time effectiveness: More time investment is necessary at the beginning, but in the long term, it is considered more sustainable 

4. Cost-effectiveness: Local resources (knowledge, labour, skills, capital) are made available to the maximum extent possible 

5. Effectiveness: Involvement of many stakeholders result in many more local cadres with the skills in local risk reduction 

6. Legitimacy Community: perceives program in a more friendly way. The root causes of vulnerability and risk, such as gender inequality, age, and class, can be reduced with participation because it opens up the space for the marginalised 

7. Equality: Equality is not negotiable. The level of risk distribution and the most vulnerable is the target


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Moreover, there are other twelve features of CBDM as follows;

Ü One promising model that incorporates the principles of community mobilisations and organisations is community-based disaster management (CBDM)
Ü Community has a central role in the long term and short term disaster management.
Ü Disaster risks or vulnerability reduction is the foundation of CBDM; the primary content of disaster management activities revolves around reducing vulnerable conditions and the root cause of vulnerability.
Ü To enrich the community involvement in risk reduction, it is essential to first assess the risk with the help of a community.
Ü The focus of attention in long-term and short-term disaster management will be the local community.
Ü Disaster risk or vulnerability reduction is the foundation of CBDM.
Ü The primary content of disaster management activities revolve around reducing vulnerable conditions and removing root causes of vulnerability. This is achieved by strengthening the community's capacity and providing disaster mitigation resources such as readily accessible cyclone shelters.
Ü Enhanced risks due to poorly planned development programmes turn minor emergencies into disasters.
Ü Adopting the CBDM approach in managing disasters contribute to people's empowerment by way of physical safety, guaranteed access, and more resources; it promotes the community's participation in decision making related to risk reduction.
Ü In the CBDM approach, the community is a critical resource in disaster risk reduction.
Ü Priority is given to improving the most vulnerable mobilisations/evacuation conditions to safe places.
Ü CBDM brings together the multitude of community stakeholders for disaster risk reduction; enables expansion of the resource base. Linking up communities that are most vulnerable with critical systems such as early warning mechanisms, resource mobilisations etc., at the state and central government will be essential to the success of the CBDM approach.
Ü Disaster resilient communities are ―flexible and elastic. They have the ―ability to recover from depression‖ or ―adjust, spring back quickly from misfortune or change.

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7 Major Principles or Elements of CBDM/CBDRM

Generally, there are seven major elements and principles in community-based disaster management.

1. People’s Participation - community members are the main actors and propellers; while sustaining the CBDM process, they also directly share in the benefits of disaster preparedness, mitigation and development. 
2. Priority for the most vulnerable groups, families, and people in the community – in the urban areas the most vulnerable sectors are generally the urban poor and informal sector while in the rural areas, these are the subsistence farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous people; also more vulnerable are the elderly, the differently-abled, children and women (because of their caregiving and social function roles) 
3. Risk reduction measures are community-specific and are identified after an analysis of the community’s disaster risk (hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities and consideration of varying perceptions of disaster risk) 
4. Existing coping mechanisms and capacities are recognised - CBDM builds upon and strengthens existing coping strategies and capacities; the most common social/organisational values and mechanisms are cooperation, community/people’s organisations, and local knowledge and resources 
5. The aim is to reduce vulnerabilities by strengthening capacities; the goal is to build disaster resilient communities 
6. Links disaster risk reduction with development - addresses vulnerable conditions and causes of vulnerabilities 
7. Outsiders have to support and facilitate roles - NGOs have supporting, facilitating and catalytic roles, but while NGOs should plan for phase-out, the government’s role is integral to enabling and institutionalising the CBDM process; partnerships with less vulnerable groups and other communities.

Moreover, there are more than nine principles in community disaster management as mentioned in the following.

1. Recognition of the exigency of community involvement

2. Belief in the community's capability and indigenous knowledge

3. Recognition of different vulnerabilities of various groups in a community

4. A concern for improvement in the overall wellbeing of the people 

5. An emphasis on organisations and technical capacity building of the community

6. A philosophy of risk reduction

7. Enhancing community awareness about risks

8. Precautionary measures and mitigation actions

9. Mobilisations of local resources


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Role of Social Workers in Community Disaster Management

In CBDM/CBDRM, social workers play the following ten vital roles, such as-

1. Engage in a public awareness campaign about disasters.
2. Coordinating disaster management and development activities
3. Community capacity building at the social, economic and environmental levels.
4. Enhancing community preparedness for disasters and building social capital
5. Educating people on how to mitigate the consequences of disasters during relief, recovery and reduction of preventive strategies periods.
6. Playing a monumental role in providing psychological support, e.g. counselling for disaster survivors.
7. Tracking people down for family reunions after disasters.
8. Communication mainly utilises interpersonal communication for disseminating warning signals.
9. Recruiting local volunteers familiar with the local logistics, resources and coordination plans.
10. A contingent of trained community organisers and policy advocates is the group most capable of promoting the needs of marginalised citizens who are displaced or who have returned but are living in substandard conditions.

Community-Based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP)

Preparedness to face disasters is required at all levels, right from the household to the State Government, to minimise the impact of disasters. The government cannot reach out immediately to each household/village at the time of disaster. The community is the first responder to any disaster and develops some traditional coping mechanisms to reduce their vulnerabilities. Such communities living in a familiar territory comprise women, men, elders, students, teachers and children. The involvement of the community is a critical factor in any disaster preparedness. The participation of the community is vital to sustaining the activities of rebuilding the shattered community life.

Community-based disaster preparedness is: - A response mechanism that uses available community resources to save lives, livelihoods, livestock, and assets; and - Should result in multi-pronged development interventions that address the root causes of vulnerability and build a self-sufficient disaster-proof community.

A CBDP is a list of activities that a community decides to undertake in the event of a disaster to avoid loss of life, livelihood, and property. Additionally, it identifies actions that should be taken by community members well in advance so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities in the event of an emergency warning. The plans include training community members to increase their awareness of disaster preparedness and hold them accountable for self-protection during and after disasters.

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Five Components of the CBDP Plan

Community Profile

This includes the community characteristics, including its physical, administrative, geographic, demographic, socio-economic, and infrastructure profile. The profile should consist of its development position and the context in which the disaster will impact the area.

Resource Inventory

Involves analysing the local resources available within the community, which can be harnessed and enhanced for disaster preparedness and response. It shall include a listing of trained manpower, livelihood activities, health, education, water, sanitation, electricity, communications, and transport facilities. It shall also have information on local committee task forces and an emergency directory.

Risk map through Community Maps

This shall include Open spaces, Medical Facilities, Communication Facilities, Transportation Facilities, Water Facilities, Temporary Shelters, Sanitation Facilities, and Search and Rescue Operation facilities.

Future Mock drill

This is a list of dates when the periodic mock drill in the community will be conducted.

Final community plan

It is a one-page pamphlet detailing the main CBDP components

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The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in CBDP

Search and Rescue Team

The team's objective is to trace and locate people who are physically trapped in the collapsed buildings, houses, and river banks. This team helps these people to move out and transfer them to safe locations. These people should be 3 to 7 physically and mentally strong men and women, preferably drivers, swimmers, cutters, and climbers. All members should have basic knowledge of first-aid and should be residents of the target community.

Relief Coordination Team

The team would be responsible for establishing contact with the district collector’s office control room, civil society organisations, and NGOs to obtain and distribute relief materials such as food, water, medicines, temporary shelters, blankets, household kits, candles, etc. They are also responsible for the fair distribution of the relief within the community. This team should comprise community representatives, social workers, women members, and community leaders.

Early Warning and Communication Team

To ensure that the warning of the impending disaster reaches every single household on time, accurate information is to be provided regularly of any catastrophe taking place in other areas; information should flow quickly and reliably upwards to district level and downwards from district to Community Level These team members should be literate, energetic and should communicate confidently and accurately. These people should also have a telephone or mobile phone, radio or television, and they should read the newspapers regularly and/or be trained in using HAM radio.

Water and Sanitation

This team is essential to make available safe drinking water to the community and livestock. The team should also ensure the availability and cleaning of temporary toilets, bathrooms, and temporary shelters. The task force members should be individuals preferably with some knowledge of water-specific public health and sanitation. Women candidates are also preferred in this team.

First Aid and Health

The team would be responsible for providing primary health care to injured people until medical assistance is provided to the patient. This group would comprise literate persons who have health-related knowledge or working in medicine and are respected community members. Women members' presence in this team would be highly advantageous.

Trauma Counseling

This team would be responsible for taking care of the affected people through counselling so that they could come out from mental pressure arising from the disaster. Social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, students, and priests can be good counsellors for the victims.

Training sessions for the Task Forces

Training plays a vital role in disaster mitigation and should be organised for each sector. The duration of training will vary from a few hours in the evening spread over a week. This depends, however, on the convenience and availability of task force members and the nature training module. The venue should be accessible to a maximum number of people. A conscious effort would be made to integrate training for peacetime activities into the training program.

Emergency Directory

This is the last but not least important component of the process. The directory would include phone numbers and contact details of district-level administration, including District Collector/ Deputy Commissioner, Additional District Magistrate, Chief District Medical Officer, Chief Fire Officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Municipal Cooperation, Food and Supply Officer, Transport Authority Officers and District Liaison Officer etc.

The details of local NGOs would also be listed down. Besides that, contact details and names of all the committee members, trained manpower, and resource persons would be included in the directory. This information would help prepare a comprehensive approach to hazard-specific pre-disaster preparation, during and post-disaster response. The questionnaire would also support posing questions to the community groups to obtain information on the specific situation.

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