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Zambia: Communities must build their own resilience in order to survive

Mitulo Silengo

Attending the GNDR Global Summit has given the Disaster Management Training Centre of Mulungushi University the knowledge and skills to initiate behavioural changes in vulnerable communities.

by Mitulo Silengo, Disaster Management Training Centre of Mulungushi University, Zambia

My participation in the GNDR Global Summit in Malaysia in 2018 was the perfect opportunity for sharing common experiences on community engagement. What I learnt from other members was invaluable for the community outreach work we do.

In particular, we treasured the knowledge about building resilience and promoting options for alternative livelihoods, especially against the negative impacts of climate change. Most importantly, we learnt how to promote a change in the mindset of local communities so that they don’t look at themselves as simply passive participants in the development process.

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Another positive effect of the experience we brought back from the Summit was a change in our relationship with our partners who now recognise that we can be called upon to provide leadership in issues dealing with disaster risk reduction and fostering behavioural changes that promote resilience in the most vulnerable communities.

We have come to realise as an organisation, that communities are able to draw lessons from their vulnerability if they are able to link their livelihoods to disaster hazards and risk, especially in the context of climate change. The recent droughts experienced in the Southern Africa sub-region and Cyclone Idai are a case in point. Communities are beginning to appreciate that they must build their own resilience in order to survive. This has also made policy-makers in Zambia focus on the need for preparedness.

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Photos: Communities identify and map local hazards as part of the Views from the Frontline project in Zambia. Photo credit: Mitulo Silengo

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