Recovery, Renewal, Resilience

Lessons for Resilience

Consider a review of risk communications to improve disaster management response at pace
Strategic communications

Effective risk communication is central to public health risk management, so that people can make informed decisions and take the correct actions to "prevent, mitigate and recover from emergencies". It enables real-time access to, and exchange of, reliable information. However, the sheer scale and pace of COVID-19 led to an uncoordinated overload of sometimes inconsistent information, so people were unsure about the severity of risk, and therefore behaved according to their individual perception. There has also been a surge of misinformation throughout the pandemic, which has undermined national and local health responses globally.


  • A review of risk communication strategies employed during the pandemic, to identify what worked and what could be improved for future emergencies
  • Build risk communication capacity by appointing dedicated risk communicators at national and local levels, to maintain consistency in communications and develop a sense of familiarity among the public, which can build trust
  • Identify the stakeholders in disseminating risk information (e.g. media) and assess the strength of the relationships with stakeholders. Identify how collaboration and coordination can be enhanced so that the information disseminated is ‘timely, accurate and transparent’
  • Tailor risk communications to the specific risk and needs of diverse communities
  • Engage with the community to co-develop risk communication support structures and establish accountability of community members for required behavioural change
  • Use social media to track (through data analytics) and counter misinformation, and develop a narrative of solidarity through crisis (UN Sri Lanka)
  • Establish a central risk management coordination platform that consolidates risk information and forecasts other potential risks (e.g. concurrent emergencies such as severe flooding). This can enhance capacities and capabilities to provide strategic interventions, and minimize further social and economic impacts (Dominican Republic)
  • Acknowledge and communicate uncertainty in clear and unambiguous language to avoid misinterpretation, e.g. use scientific evidence to estimate the likelihood of COVID-19 case resurgence as precisely as possible, and avoid language such as ‘probably/possibly’
  • Regularly gauge and monitor the public perception of risk, through surveys and consultations with public bodies such as police, to inform timely action to prevent lax or panicked behaviour
  • Evaluate and update risk communications regularly to account for developments (e.g. vaccination)
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Consider including the community in planning, preparing and monitoring disaster risk
Planning for recovery
Implementing recovery

Views from the Frontline (VFL) found that many communities feel that they would benefit significantly if they were to be included in the planning, preparing and monitoring of disaster risk interventions. Communities, and the people within them, are acutely aware of their vulnerabilities and will have diverse needs and priorities. By including the community in the development of plans and actions, local governments can recognise these diversities and directly respond through policies and interventions. Further, inclusion and co-operation can increase a community's awareness of the valuable resources that are available to them before, during and after disasters. Consider:

  • Facilitate regular interaction of local government with communities and grassroots organisations in decision-making processes and disaster risk reduction programmes:
    • Establish community consultations/workshops
  • Engage and involve local stakeholders in the preparation of local policies, plans and actions aimed at disaster risk management:
    • Ensure the adoption of an inclusive approach when doing so, e.g. including volunteers, marginalised people (women, children, people with disabilities, migrants, older people, LGBTQI+)
  • Collate knowledge and ideas, and generate collective action between local government and communities on what is required to address different types of disaster risk:
    • Collaborative knowledge sharing and action can mitigate threats, address vulnerabilities and improve the community's sense of security and safety
  • Involve local knowledge of communities to improve risk mapping, generate local ownership and empowerment, and increase awareness and preparedness:
    • In Tanzania, local residents carry out remote detection to identify sanitation issues in rural areas by sending SMS messages to local engineers and media outlets
    • This raises the awareness of local people quickly to potential risks and enables local authorities to monitor water supplies remotely and at a lower cost
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