We often think of resilience as the process that makes people and/or infrastructures resilient to shocks whether natural or not. This term is becoming central given the apparent fragile nature of natural and animal resources, including humanity itself. The world is affected by the most terrible disasters and the future is hardly reassuring. It is precisely this that makes it imperative to find solutions that enable humanity and infrastructures to become less vulnerable.
It goes without saying that resilience is opposed to vulnerability (although etymologically both can mean the same thing). Indeed, the capacity of resilience of one community can also mean the vulnerability of another. When speaking of vulnerability, it refers to the notion of severity of a given hazard that would test the resilience system implemented. Several stratagems exist for evaluating the level of resilience or vulnerability of a person, a community.
It is therefore inconceivable to talk about building community resilience without referring first to the quality of the information. Indeed, quality of information helps to provide the affected person with the knowledge needed to take charge of any cyclical situation that would "negatively" hinder the normal course of their life.
Community resilience: when?
Resilience also requires knowledge and control of the local realities and factors that would work for or against a target's vulnerability to predictable or unpredictable events. It is inconceivable to apply a solution that would have worked in environment A in environment B. The pretext that a product that cures malaria is standard does not apply to resilience. Finally, resilience requires discipline and complementarity amongst the stakeholders involved, which are necessary for the observation of a collegial but differentiated action in which each action reinforces another.
Resilience is an ideal that "no one" can achieve. It is possible that a community, a population better equipped and better disciplined may be more resilient than another. But reaching level zero of resilience would be a futile assertion quickly disproved by planned or unplanned events. It is therefore to help strengthen the community resilience of communities of Tillabéri in Niger and Réo in Burkina Faso, that a group of actors working on community disaster risk resilience management (CBDRM) visited women and men living in these areas: women and men busy creating a living environment favourable to them and the next generation.
In Tillabéri, on the Féri Féri Hill, women and men are working to rehabilitate an area that was once considered too dry to grow anything. For nearly 20 years, the ADPE Bonferey group worked to restore an area of 77 hectares of infertile ground. This area is now witnessing life spring up around it. In this exceptional area, cattle and animals can now find food and humans can now exploit natural resources growing in the area such as straw. This once dry and deserted soil now hosts greener spaces and offers a micro climate that now attracts humans.
In Tillabéri, it is said that this rehabilitated area contributes to the resilience of the communities, mainly to Tillaberi farmers, but also to the rebalancing of the weather and climate events of this micro-ecosystem. Tillaberi is one of the hottest areas in West Africa.
" Tillabéri has a dry climate (BWh) according to the Köppen-Geiger classification. Over the year, the average temperature at Tillabéri is 30.5°C and rainfall averages 420.9 mm. »
In Réo, Burkina Faso, the term resilience was also used but this time through another approach: women's economic empowerment through the production of Shea kernels. Indeed, women in Faso (as they proudly like to be identified), have contributed to reducing unemployment in their country through multiple income-generating activities.
With nearly 6700 women, the NGO UGF-CDN succeeded in unifying them around an ideal. Anyone who would have heard the women's testimony would have a better understanding of the impact of financial resources to the resilience of women and their households.
Indeed, UGF-CDN’s women’s groups are able to guarantee the education of their children, healthcare, food and a safe accommodation. They can also afford their own transportation if needed. They now feel less at the mercy of everyday hazards as well as getting satisfaction from their work. Without mentioning the word "resilience," they have noticed the changes in their daily lives. This naturally makes them much more resilient.
In conclusion: what is the meaning of “resilience”
As seen from the examples cited above, resilience has no established formula. It is necessary for any process looking at strengthening knowledge and the means of subsistence of communities. The purpose of this knowledge and income is to enable the affected communities to be better equipped to face any needs and situations that may arise from any place at any time.
Resilience therefore refers to the stability we have in the face of an external shock or phenomenon or not. It is imperative that the approach of our governments (often more infrastructural), aims at individual and collective human empowerment.
Written by Adessou Nevaeme Kossivi