Fragilities, risks & resilience
Considering crises to be the result of pre-existing vulnerabilities is a paradigm shift that brings numerous changes for humanitarian actors, development agencies and governments. Over and above reducing fragilities, the aim should be to provide people and communities with support in anticipating and managing risks in order to increase their resilience.
The many natural disasters that have taken place in recent years, and the increased number of food crises in the Sahelian and Sahelo-Sudanese strip, have regularly, and brutally, shown the importance of prevention programmes, preparation and warning.
Whether crises are social, political or environmental, they are systematically the result of structural factors, which are referred to as “fragilities” in the aid sector. These fragilities can be of various kinds (institutional, economic or environmental) and they are dynamic. On the other hand, resilience can be defined as the capacity of a society, household or individual to absorb and recover from shocks (such as earthquakes, conflicts, or communicable diseases), while adapting themselves to cope with risks. Thus, managing risks properly to prevent shocks turning into crises is a key challenge with regard to governing a country or territory.
The concept of resilience came to the fore after the Hyogo Framework for Action (Kobe, 2005), and more and more operational actors are now exploring ways to implement it in the field. With the Sendai and Cancun agendas (2015 and 2017), in which Groupe URD were involved, it is now central to the complex relationship between relief and development, and encourages actors to work in a coordinated manner in the medium to long term. In the volatile environments of chronic crises, helping to reinforce resilience can take different forms and requires agile management in order to adapt continuously.
Since 1998 and Hurricane Mitch, Groupe URD has been involved in numerous research and evaluation projects following large scale disasters and has accumulated significant expertise. In 2018, we began facilitating the French NGO Network on Disaster Risk Reduction.