How to strategise with communities most at risk

Stage 6

Stage six of risk-informed development

This resource forms stage six of our Risk-Informed Development Guide, which provides a comprehensive stage-by-stage approach to working with communities most at risk.

Alongside communities most at risk, it is important to consolidate the decisions they have made to design appropriate and viable development actions, strategies or interventions around development, that build a sustainable and resilient future. The best course of action to address risk should be anchored in the mitigation or adaptation of that risk.

Strategising for action aims to: 

  • Define and agree on the actions required to enhance the resilience of people, places, and infrastructure systems
  • Address gaps in basic rights, needs and amenities 
  • Collectively decide on adaptation actions to reduce the impacts and consequences of future risks, in order to build the resilience and sustainable development of communities 
  • Define appropriate anticipatory actions to establish effective response and revival mechanisms in possible risk scenarios
  • Realise human and financial resources, and other mechanisms, to enable and facilitate the realisation of these actions and strategies

1. Major takeaways

Draw out key takeaways from stages one to five and participatory contingency planning (if also underway).

2. Actions and interventions

Determine the necessary actions and interventions to address various issues of the present and future, and to drive sustainable and resilient development. Consulting and collaborating with development planners or expert organisations and institutions is useful and essential, if viable. 

Some of the well-known and successful strategies for strengthening resilience, mitigating future risks, and adapting to risks through development interventions include:

Landscape and ecosystems

Resilience can be strengthened through landscape infrastructure development and ecosystem service enhancement. Examples include blue-green infrastructure; buffer protection of landscape systems like river and natural drainage networks; wetland systems; and coastal buffers.

Integrated watershed management

Activities for integrated watershed management are anchored in: the understanding of watersheds of a given area; drainage paths and their health; the soil and environmental health of the watershed; social and cultural practices and mechanisms that enable healthy livelihoods; and sustainable resource harvesting by communities within the watershed.

Sustainable and climate-appropriate agricultural practices 

Examples of practices include: water efficiency; use of local and native species that are drought and flood resistant; minimal use of polluting synthetic fertilisers; agroforestry practices; bees and birds conservation and protection practices; and organic farming.

Hazard specific interventions

These include: maintaining a protective buffer zone and a no-development zone; retro-fitting or rehabilitating existing developments or homes in hazard-prone areas to safer areas; and watershed management, redirection, and diversion of water to designed sinks or detention ponds in flood-prone areas.


Retro-fitting existing infrastructure, human-occupied land and buildings to be resilient and future proof to various risks, especially increasing rainfall intensity, landslides, floods and storms. This can be achieved through actions such as: improving the capacity of drainage channels by creating vegetated buffers; detention ponds to divert floodwaters; stabilising the soils on steep terrains; and strengthening the structural stability of buildings. 

Safe zones

Delineate or identify safe zones or areas that are hazard and risk-free. This is especially relevant in communities on the front lines of risks. These areas can accommodate the growth in future members of the community and their activities. 

Life-cycle approaches

Support and facilitate life-cycle approaches while making decisions and choices around products, development decisions and even daily chores in every family. Often, most marginalised and indigenous communities have unique and efficient methods of resource management, living in sync with nature and innovatively adapting to changes. Identify and support such practices. 

Entrepreneurial initiatives

Explore with community members and support entrepreneurial initiatives and consider village saving and loan groups, or community cooperatives.  

Share local data

Share local data with local government units and regional and national agencies. This can bring a positive focus through policies, or prompt sustainable, resilient and climate appropriate activities.

Strengthen capacities

Strengthen the capacities of community members by investing in human resource development. Communities should be able to manage their own development through the risk-informed development planning process, and take action or adopt practices in their daily activities that build resilience.


“There are many other important roles within society, within the community, that need to be valued. One is what we women do with the NUDEC (local civil defence centres).” Christina Rosario de Oliveira, Brazil © GNDR/Julia Lemos Lima

3. Coherence

Ensure coherence between various policies, schemes, plans, programmes, actors and decision makers:

  • Examine development plans, environmental regulation zones and rules, disaster management plans; review how they apply to the community and how they connect to national policies, or policies of other sectors
  • Develop actions to strengthen horizontal coherence between plans addressing different risks or sectors, and vertical coherence between local government and national plans
  • Ensure actions selected align with existing local and national policies and plans

4. Risk-informed development planning

Estimate the need for carrying out individual stages of risk-informed development planning and implementing the actions and strategic interventions around resilient and sustainable development, risk mitigation and adaptation. 

The needs include: 

  • Financial support for implementing actions or strategic interventions proposed 
  • Human resources to implement actions
  • Institutional support, for example from local government units, other regulatory agencies of the government (sector specific, national, regional or local agencies)

5. Funding

Identify funds from various financial modes to implement proposed actions/strategic interventions.

  • Take the community agenda and proposed strategies, actions and interventions to other decision-making stakeholders (especially government departments, local government units, technical agencies and institutions, and private sector organisations) 
  • The roles of locally elected representatives or local government representatives are critical in supporting civil society organisations (CSOs) and community members to access necessary funds; directly request government implementation of proposed actions and strategic interventions
  • Local government units and elected representatives can bridge communications and access to government funded plans that align with the community agenda for risk-informed, resilient and sustainable development; it will be very useful to engage with elected representatives and office holders 
  • For non-government funds, CSOs may explore corporate social responsibility funds, or funds from local businesses who may directly or indirectly benefit from risk-informed development in the locality and region; for this, organisations and communities have to bring out innovative models to engage local businesses 
  • Exploring in-situ funds generated via local cooperative and social enterprises based on grassroots economic organisation of community members

6. Monitoring mechanisms

Co-create a monitoring mechanism to monitor risk drivers, vulnerabilities, hazards and resilience with the community task force:

  • Design of the monitoring mechanism must be collaborative and involve experts in disaster monitoring, forecasting and management; agreement has to be reached on who will take up the monitoring tasks, frequency of monitoring, and the resources required to develop a monitoring mechanism within the community
  • Crowdsourcing data is an option to continuously keep track of the conditions of communities and their habitats; this method relies on data gathering mobile apps and websites which the public are expected to use to upload data and observations

Project partners

Our Risk-Informed Development Guide was produced as part of our Local Leadership for Global Impact project. The project and all related content was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). All content is the sole responsibility of GNDR and does not necessarily reflect the views of the BMZ.

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Our Local Leadership for Global Impact project is implemented in partnership with Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.

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