Disaster Management - Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM)
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Background of CBDM in UNCRD

The Disaster Management Planning Unit of UNCRD has established Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM) as its core principle since the establishment of the UNCRD Hyogo Office, which had aimed at making activities especially on disaster management, in 1999 (Disaster Management Planning Unit was integrated into Nagoya Headquarter Office). This owes to the fact that, in the past, the Hyogo office was established in Kobe with the invitation of the Hyogo Prefectural government, which through the Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute continues to fund the CBDM project series as a means to carry on the lessons learnt from the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake of 1995, which devastated southern Hyogo. Not only are lessons carried on, but they are communicated to the world to other cities and communities that are at risk of disasters and we work together towards reducing such risk by learning from each other and incorporating local knowledge and practice. The CBDM projects aim to work with community members to build their capacity and awareness towards the reduction of risk and potential damages and loss of lives.

Why Community Based Disaster Management?

The Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake of 1995 hit the city of Kobe and other parts of Hyogo prefecture in Japan causing 6,434 and properties. Immediately after the earthquake, many people were rescued from the debris by their neighbours and relatives. Statistic shows that 85% of the people were either self-evacuated or were rescued by their neighbours.

This indicated the importance of the local community immediately after the disaster. Since the reconstruction programme incorporates both physical and social issues, involvement of people in the reconstruction process is the key to its success. Community participation and involvement is a universal process. It does not depend on the development level of a country. Therefore, UNCRD promotes Community Based Disaster Management as one of the key lessons learnt from the Hanshin Awaji Great Earthquake.

History of Hyogo Trust Fund (HTF) CBDM Project Series

Initial Three-year Project
During the first year of the initial three-year project period, which marked the beginning of community based disaster management research activities at the Hyogo Office, the root causes of community vulnerability such as culture and climate were studied and analyzed to understand the issues at hand for further activities. The main objective of the first project-year was to study the fire safety of the structure and environment of traditional Japanese wooden houses because the history of devastating earthquakes in Japan pointed to the need of fire safety. Ancient houses in Kyoto and Shirakawa-go, along with old water supply systems were studied carefully. The decision of increasing fire fighting capability instead of removing wooden districts in San Francisco after the 1905 earthquake was also studied.

The aim of the second year was to focus on urban community vulnerabilities and to provide affordable means to reduce them.

To this end, the Global Earthquake Safety Initiative (GESI) was launched to promote actions to mitigate risks by measuring trends, evaluating the effectiveness of mitigation efforts and comparing results with other similar cities. GESI was implemented in 21 cities around the world in cooperation with the NGO Geo Hazards International (GHI). The study showed that city planners were capable of reducing risks if they adequately identify the types of risks that their city faces. Information about risks would help city leaders set priorities while information about other cities provided benchmarks for understanding risks and for identifying acceptable risk thresholds.

During the final year of the project, focus was placed on the vulnerabilities of rural communities after earthquakes. The main objectives were to provide affordable means to reduce vulnerabilities for future disasters and to build safer and sustainable communities.

There are many Community-Based Disaster Management (CBDM) initiatives in different parts of the world and many of them produce very tangible results. However, many of the projects are run on external funding, and often the end of funding means the end of the initiative. So long as the communities are not the owners of the projects, the projects cannot be carried out in a sustainable way.

Lesson from CBDM
To this end, useful lessons from different organizations in different socioeconomic circumstances are very important. To effectively apply these lessons, there is a need for a framework of sustainability. A strategic framework for the sustainability of CBDM should be established, and the best practices should be widely disseminated among various stakeholders through training programmes. Drawing on such a background, the following activities were conducted during the second three year project period:

In the first year, field surveys, documentation of best practices, and preparation of the overall framework for the sustainability of community based disaster management were conducted. Six case studies were conducted for three types of hazards: Bangladesh and Cambodia for floods, India and the Philippines for Cyclones, and Nepal and Indonesia for Earthquakes.

Based on the findings of the first year, the second year was dedicated to developing a set of guidelines and tools (one user-specific set of guidelines and five user-specific tools for policymakers, central government disaster managers, local government disaster managers, trainers, and community-based organizers). These guidelines and tools were then tested in three countries: Bangladesh, the Philippines and Viet Nam.

In the final year, a handbook entitled "Sustainable Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM) Practices in Asia" was published to incorporate the experiences and findings of the case studies and field testing over the last two years.

Please refer to the Publications by Disaster Management Planning Unit from here.
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