Global conclusions

100,000 Perceptions of Risk – Global Recommendations Report

1. Complex threats require a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach

Floods are the most common threat faced by the communities. The impact of floods on communities most at risk is severe: loss of lives, poor health, loss of livelihoods and livestock, and damage to crops and buildings. Communities stated that maintaining access to education and healthcare is particularly important and they are concerned that debt may hamper efforts to reduce the impact of floods.

Risk is systemic, complex and ever changing. There is a clear need for integrated planning solutions to build the resilience of communities. Covid-19, climate change and the conflict in Ukraine have highlighted the systemic nature of risk and the interconnectedness of vulnerabilities. These shocks and stressors have caused cascading negative social, economic and environmental impact and have (re)produced and intensified secondary crises such as food security, unemployment, and gender-based violence.

From this we have learnt that disaster prevention and risk governance require an integrated approach with structural and non-structural measures, rather than a single approach. It must include a whole-of-society approach where local communities are meaningfully engaged in decision making. Plus a whole-of-government approach where risk reduction is integrated across all levels of governance. Only then will risk be meaningfully managed and shocks and stressors prevented from becoming disasters.

2. Communities are still excluded from decision making and participation is poorly planned

Local knowledge, capacities and decision making are essential for effective risk management and disaster prevention. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction specifically highlights this: Article 7 states that ‘Governments should engage with relevant stakeholders, including women, children, youth, persons with disabilities, poor people, migrants, indigenous peoples, volunteers, the community of practitioners and older persons in the design and implementation of policies, plans and standards’. However this is still not happening. 

Our Views from the Frontline data from Pakistan shows that more than half of local government officials surveyed admitted that they never involve communities in consultations and eight out of 10 people with disabilities, and almost all women, said that they have never been included in risk governance processes.

Excluding communities means their own knowledge of their vulnerabilities are not considered, meaning action taken to address a threat may be less effective. Here, civil society organisations have an important role in convening the whole-of-society approach. Even within a community, different groups have different priorities. For example, women may have different roles to men; indigenous people may place higher value on their cultural heritage; and farmers and pastoralists may have different views on the use of ecosystems around them. Governments must facilitate communities and grassroots organisations to meaningfully engage in decision-making processes and disaster risk reduction programmes in a systematic way so that the diversity of these views can be captured, local knowledge applied and no-one is left behind. (1)

Target E of the Sendai Framework calls for the development of national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020. Community inclusion is essential to ensure that strategies are not only in place but effectively address real needs. For example, in the Namwongo community in Kampala, Uganda, local governments representatives and community members identified very different threats. The government highlighted ash fall and traffic congestion as key threats, yet the community focused on climate change, and conflict and insecurity. Any local development plan that didn’t take these issues into account would not effectively respond to the needs of the people it is developed for. 

When exploring why exclusion persists, poor planning of participation came back as the most common perceived cause. Those on the front line of risk report that governments fail to take into account people’s work and childcare commitments and farmers’ seasonal calendars, as well as age and ethnic and religious differences – factors that would ensure the meaningful participation of all stakeholders. Timing, lack of convenience, and accessibility are some of the key barriers to participation in consultations on resilience plans and actions  highlighted by communities most at risk. For example, in Odisha, India, persons with disabilities highlighted the challenges of reaching the location of local government meetings. One individual said it takes two hours and several modes of transport to get to the meetings. Similarly, women are often excluded from the process of consultation because the timings of meetings clash with taking care of their household work and children. The result is that those on the front line of risk feel their knowledge, expertise and recommendations are an afterthought and not prioritised or valued. 

Furthermore, when taking this from the local to the national level, those on the front line of risk feel their voice is completely lost. Whilst civil society organisations play a crucial role in connecting communities with decision makers, local and national civil society organisations rarely have a permanent seat at national level. At the same time, many civil society organisations don’t know about disaster risk reduction policies, budget and commitments made by their government and what their role is.

Many feel that the space of civil society is shrinking and further curtailing the opportunities to amplify the voice of the communities. Government decision makers rarely see civil society organisations as credible institutions. For example, in Zambia civil society is being excluded from critical debates – instead there is an increase in arrests when they try to speak out.

Knowledge sharing between civil society organisations and communities is happening but sporadically. There is also a lack of collaboration amongst civil society organisations meaning there isn’t one unified voice to advocate for change. Civil society organisations have an important role in strengthening collaboration and coordination for risk governance.

3. Poor governance means a lack of accountability for risk governance

Whilst those on the front line of risk feel that there has been progress made in making sure there are structures and mechanisms in place to manage disaster risk, often there is no dedicated human resource available at the local level to carry out the disaster risk reduction work. Governments assign this responsibility to people who are already doing other jobs, which creates a lack of clarity around who is accountable for risk reduction action. As a result, communities report that there is a significant lack of competency and required know-how at the local level.

There is also a severe lack of resources reaching local level government for disaster risk reduction. As a result, local communities can miss critical interactions with their designated government representative on the design of disaster risk reduction activities. This reinforces the essential need for a whole-of-government approach – where government at all levels and all departments are aligned in risk reduction approaches and finance reaches the local level. 

4. Lack of local funding for DRR

Those on the front line of risk report that funding is still not reaching the local level and decision making on how funding should be allocated is not meaningfully including local leaders. There is a persistent lack of mechanisms in place for funds to be devolved to the local level. 

Eight out of 10 community members say they cannot access or have limited access to funds. For example, Nepal’s legislation on disaster risk reduction allows for ample allocation of budget to the local level for local resilience building, however communities still don’t feel they have access to this budget. Governments and international organisations have failed to meet the commitments outlined in the Grand Bargain commitments. 

5. Information gaps on risk at the local level

Communities feel that they still do not have access to risk information and are not involved in co-producing knowledge on risk. Even if the information exists, the communities are not aware of it and have not been involved in developing it. 

For example, in Nigeria three in four people surveyed do not feel they receive any information from the government on disaster risk reduction actions. However, more than half of the government representatives feel that the information is shared with the community. Furthermore, communities highlighted that the information that is shared by the government mainly relates to disaster preparedness and early warnings, with little about risk reduction and resilience building.

Risk information is generated by government bodies but they fail to meaningfully integrate local knowledge. The methods of communicating risk information are not reaching those living on the front line of risk. Whilst many governments are increasing their efforts to engage citizens – and the use of new technologies can enable more systematic sharing of disaster risk assessments, plans and activities – the most remote and vulnerable are still being left behind in technological advancements.

6. Development isn’t risk-informed

Those on the front line of risk report that development is not risk-informed. New development initiatives are contributing new risks as they do not take into account emerging future risk. Gains in progress being made against the Sustainable Development Goals are being reversed as the changing global risk profile undermines development. Therefore all development in policy and practice must be risk-informed and effectively address the interrelated needs, vulnerabilities and capacity of communities most at risk. 

For example, the town of Tillabéri in Niger experiences regular flooding caused in part by run-off rainwater from a deforested hill on the edge of town. A local organisation collaborated with the community, local government and other civil society organisations to secure land rights and undertake reforestation and anti-erosion activities. Flooding has been reduced, livelihoods have been created in animal husbandry, and the environment has been restored. But these local examples need to be supported to be scaled out.

One of the biggest challenges to risk-informed development is the way that funding is designated. The lack of coherence across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus means that cascading risks are not addressed effectively in a systematic and holistic approach.  Communities find it particularly difficult to build resilience when recovering from disasters because of the mismatch between their long-term plans and the short-term availability of funding.

7. Underutilised ecosystems and nature-based solutions

Those on the front line of risk feel that whilst there is global recognition that well-managed ecosystems act as a natural structure to prevent hazards, decision makers are not prioritising these approaches. Therefore, little progress has been made in mainstreaming  nature-based approaches into disaster risk reduction policy and practice at the national level. 

For example, natural bioshields can reduce the height and energy of tsunamis and cyclones in coastal areas. Well-maintained ecosystems can be critical for providing food, water and shelter, thereby increasing resilience.

Nature-based, integrated DRR approaches have been successful in many parts of the world. For example, in Hinatuan in the Philippines, women are actively involved in restoring and managing mangrove forests, which serve as a buffer against storm surges and tsunamis. These mangrove areas also bring a wealth of crabs and shells, which can be used for food and extra income for these women, enhancing their resilience (Oxfam et al., 2014).

However, many people lack awareness of the opportunity that the ecosystems can offer. While ecosystems can protect communities from hazards, development initiatives often destroy these ecosystems. Views from the Frontline data shows the importance of ecosystem-based approaches to disaster reduction.


  1. More on inclusive governance and the challenges of it can be found on the OECD website.

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European Union

Our Views from the Frontline project is funded by the European Union (EU). Content related to this project on our website was made possible by the support of the EU. All content is the sole responsibility of GNDR and does not necessarily reflect the views of the EU.


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