From vulnerability to resilience

15.04.2020 Resilience

As a proud partner in the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, we’re helping people in Nepal, Bangladesh and Peru become more resilient to floods.

Floods affect more people globally than any other type of natural hazard. They cause some of the largest economic, social and humanitarian losses, involving on average some 250 million people each year. The poorest communities suffer most as repeated disasters undermine their potential to develop and trap them in a cycle of poverty. Flood risk is increasing as poor development, erratic rainfall patterns and unsustainable land use practices put more people in harm’s way.

For six years we’ve been part of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance. This brings together risk expertise from the private sector and from research, humanitarian and development organisations. Its aim is to reduce risk and improve the livelihoods of vulnerable communities. Our main role in the Alliance is as a developer and sharer of practical, tried-and- tested knowledge – something that’s allowing us to share best practice with flood-prone communities around the world.

People have been helped to build low- cost monitoring stations, which send out SMS alerts warning communities about impending floods. It gives them extra time to protect their property and possessions.

They’ve also learned to adapt their farming methods and have put together evacuation plans, which further helps them prepare. Meanwhile, the flood resilient shelters we’ve helped them build and their new food distribution processes are helping them bounce back after floods.

Our expertise has already influenced national adaptation plans and climate change policies. Through our engagement with influencing groups, we’ve even helped shape the processes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the areas of climate technology and loss and damage. By sharing practical experiences of the poor communities in which we work, we have helped to consolidate knowledge and influence policy. Something that continues to be at the top of our agenda in our engagement with the Alliance.


Karuna was born into poverty and through her determination and ambition has worked her way up to become a leader of her local community. The Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMCs) set up with help from Practical Action have given influential local people like Karuna new opportunities. And they have benefitted the community with initiatives like this weather board, which allows people to plan for future weather events.

We’re also working with the Red Cross Climate Centre as knowledge brokers for DfID’s largest Science for Resilience programme. We’ve teamed up with leading scientists and researchers, capturing the most innovative and ingenious solutions and sharing knowledge across academic, policy and practitioner communities to reduce risk and build resilience.

“As Chair of the Community Disaster Management Committee, I’m respected as a leader by my local community. I’m thankful to have this opportunity to help people in the area. The villagers trust me and I am repaying their trust.”  Karuna Chaudhary, CDMC Chair in Nepal

Powerful partnerships

The climate crisis is creating a whole new set of challenges when it comes to resilience.

Disasters are becoming worse and happening more often – accelerating the need to find solutions to problems that have existed for years but are getting rapidly worse. Despite this, it’s hard to persuade governments to invest in risk reduction. That’s why we’re continuing to work with powerful partners to make the case that disaster resilience and therefore reducing the negative impact of floods and other natural hazards for the poorest who are often left behind.