Community Risk Assessment (CRA)

What is Community Risk Assessment?

Community Risk Assessment is a participatory process of determining the nature, scope and magnitude of negative effects of hazards to the community and its household within an anticipated time. It determines the probable or likely negative effect (damage and Loss) on “elements at risk” (People – lives and health, households and community structure, facilities and services, schools, hospitals etc. Livelihood and economic activities -Job, equipment, crops, livestock, etc. lifelines – access rods and bridge) and to find out why particular groups or communities are vulnerable in the context of hazard and why others are not. The coping mechanisms and the resources (Capacities) present in the community are also essential considerations in community risk assessment.

Steps, Elements and Significance of Community Risk Assessment

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Elements of Community Risk Assessment 

Community risk assessment (CRA) in Disaster Management involves four (4) interrelated components – Hazard Assessment, Vulnerability Assessment, Capacity Assessment and People’s perception of risk

Hazard Assessment

Determines the chances of experiencing any natural or human-made hazard or threat in the community. Assessment includes the nature and behaviour of each of the hazards to the community is exposed. Hazard assessment involves analysis of existing topographical, geological, geomorphologic, hydrological and land-use maps, as well as analysis of social and economic and political conditions with the previous records of incidents.

Common classification of hazards:

Physical: e.g. lifting, awkward postures, slips and trips, noise, dust, machinery, computer equipment, etc.

Mental: e.g. excess workload, long hours, working with high-need clients, bullying, etc. These are also called 'psychosocial' hazards, affecting mental health and occurring within working relationships.

Chemical: e.g. asbestos, cleaning fluids, aerosols, etc.

Biological: including tuberculosis, hepatitis and other infectious diseases faced by healthcare workers, home care staff and other healthcare professionals.


Vulnerability Assessment

Vulnerability Assessment is the process of estimating the weakness of ‘elements at risk’ ( People from backward communities, Women in Need, Children in need) and analyzing the cause and root of a cause that places these elements at risk. The assessment takes into account the physical, geographical, economic, social and psychological factors, which attribute the negative cause to some people and the positive to others. Because of that in a given situation, some people are in trouble while others are relatively protected. It identifies what elements are at risk and why they are at risk.

This step is performed to determine the elements at risk, the degree of vulnerability and the causes of the elements at risk. All elements (people, buildings, resources etc) which are prone to the hazard are identified and an inventory is prepared. Then the degree of their vulnerability is analysed and the causes of their vulnerability are determined.

Critical facility analysis is also performed by determining the critical facilities (that play a major role in daily routine life e.g. schools, hospitals, mosques, civic centres etc.) at risk, the causes of their vulnerabilities and analyzing historical records of hazard occurrence in the identified facilities.

Vulnerability profile 

There are major six considering issues is vulnerability profiling as such.

a) Food insecurity: Most families depend on food gardens and in case it is destroyed by flood/flash flood or King/high tide or any other disaster, families are highly vulnerable as there is almost no food storage. 

b) Community on hill slopes: In the Tinputz district, some of the communities are located on hill slopes and hills and these communities are highly vulnerable to landslides during monsoon. 

c) Limited access: Many communities are located in the interiors and have no access to wide roads. These communities are highly vulnerable as speedy emergency evacuation is very difficult.

d) Coastal community: A number of communities are located in the low-lying coastal areas and these communities are highly vulnerable to king/high tides and strong winds, which is a frequent phenomenon. 

e) Housing in a flood zone: A number of families have constricted their houses in the flood zone as these areas have high fertility as well as access to water for agriculture. In case of floods and flash floods, houses are affected. 

f) Limited response capacity: District, as well as neighbouring areas, have very limited capacity in terms of an emergency evacuation, warning dissemination equipment, search and rescue and emergency health services. This vulnerability can aggravate small disasters. (Adapted from Tinputz District Disaster Risk Management Plan November 2014)


Capacity Assessment

Identifies the peoples coping strategies, resources available for preparedness, mitigation and emergency response, who has access to and control over these resources. Capacity assessment is the process to determine how people cope in times of crisis to reduce the damaging effects of hazards. Through capacity assessment, the community’s coping strategies and resources, which are available, for disaster preparedness, mitigation and prevention are identified. 

Capacity assessment means identifying the strengths and resources available to reduce the level of risk or the effects of a disaster. In this step, the resources of a community are evaluated by analyzing the available strengths like skills, expertise, equipment, infrastructure etc. Then the availability of these resources is evaluated to know how soon these resources can be deployed and become available to use. Another important step is to find out how durable and long-lasting these resources are and what is the level of their operational integrity (Ability to complete tasks without supervision.

The Capacity Assessment Process involves the following two key components: 

a) Understanding of people’s previous experience with hazards and the coping strategies, which they have developed. 

b) Analyzing which resources are available and used by the community to reduce disaster risk and the controller who has access and control over these resources.

People’s perception of risk

Identifies the perception of risk of the heterogeneous groups and sectors, which make up the community, measuring the community’s disaster risk based on people’s participation.


Major Steps of Community Risk Assessment

a) Scoping the Community: Watch out for the community through Transact work, participatory rural appraisal, FGD etc.

b) Identification of Hazards, Vulnerable Sectors, Elements and Locations

c) Risk Analysis & Evaluation

d) Specific Risk Reduction Option and Action planning

e) Consciences of Action: At this stage, the Disaster Manager & Local people and other stakeholders will reach a conscience to manage particular hazards.


Significance of Community Risk Assessment

It provides a systematic process for identifying, estimating and ranking local disaster risk. Community risk assessment is a necessary step for the adoption of adequate and appropriate risk reeducation measures 

It Contributes awareness to the community, about the potential risk they did not know before. This is usually the contribution of External Bodies (Govt. & non-Govt. Agencies) who bring with scientific and technical Support & information Regarding hazards that the community has not experienced before

It is an essential precaution toward proper decision making in the disaster risk reeducation and development policies, strategies, plans

To reduce the community risk and prioritize the major hazards so that the community can address all its disaster risks on the basis of its capacities and resources consequently finding out the frequency, extent of damage and other consideration. 

To ensure that the risk reduction process is inadequate and appropriate. Because Risk reduction planning should integrate preparedness and long-term mitigation measures and be able to balance the two.

To ensure that risk reduction management will be cost-effective and sustainable. To balance the two effects, one should track the existing community capacities, material, social and attitudinal capacities to reduce vulnerabilities.

To identify and access the external resources and support by the very community to build an effective strategy for the circumstance, that the community cannot address by itself 

It provides the community and supporting agencies with baseline data which is useful during natural or manmade calamities to reconstruct and compensate for the damage, needs etc.

Community risk assessment provides the data with disaster specific baseline to the community and supporting agencies for developmental planning purposes.

Community Risk assessment provides the database to all intelligence agencies and information agencies so that they can take measures during the emergency period (even when the community is inaccessible to the supporting agencies.)

To have an analytical yardstick regarding the growth and success of the obtaining Process over a timeline.

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