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Futures beyond flooding

Practical Action’s Flood Resilience Programme


Active project: Global

We are an original member of the award-winning Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance. Our role is to work with communities around the world to help them plan and adapt their lives to cope better with flooding. The Alliance consists of humanitarian, development, research and private sector partners who share a vision that floods should have no negative impact on the ability of people and businesses to thrive.

Programme overview

Title: Flood Resilience Programme

Dates: 2013 – Ongoing

Location: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Nepal, Peru, Senegal and Zimbabwe, with global advocacy from the UK 

Our role: Practical Action is working with communities to make resilience a way of life by advising people how to adapt and plan for predictable flood events and sharing our knowledge and experience of what works with communities, practitioners, and decision-makers.

Participants: We’re working with over 120,000 people in more than 80 communities.

Project Budget for phase II (2018-2024): £7.2 million

Aim: Resilience that protects

Lead Donors: Z Zurich Foundation, Swiss Development Cooperation, Bristol University and Insuresilience Fund

Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance Partners: Concern Worldwide, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET-International), London School of Economics (LSE), Mercy Corps, Plan International, Practical Action and Zurich Insurance Group.

“We have become a community that says what we want to others. We are standing up, we are saying: Yes, there is a solution. We are putting forward proposals, and for us that means resilience”.

Eva Luz Dávila, president of Carosio’s Asociation of Victims and Affected People and community brigade leader in Peru


Floods affect more people globally than any other type of natural hazard and cause substantial economic, social and humanitarian losses.

Climate change combined with population growth, urbanization and economic development will worsen flooding in many regions. The people worst affected by climate change are often those who are least responsible for causing it and have the fewest resources to cope.

Affected people usually know best how and where to focus resilience activities in their community. Yet decisions are often made at national or global level, where local voices are not heard.

The pace of climate change and the corresponding hazards is overwhelming the ability of people and governments to cope.

Our approach

We work with local people across the globe, using the innovative Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities framework and tool developed by the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance partners. 

This approach helps communities understand why they’re at risk, plans interventions that build resilience, and provides them with the knowledge and tools they need to have a say in how development and disaster risk reduction investment happens.

We generate evidence of what works by demonstrating simple, ingenious solutions,  selected and designed with local people to unlock potential, building on local resources and capacities. We use our online Flood Resilience Portals to broker our own and others’ knowledge, supporting practitioners, organizations, institutions, and decision-makers in designing and implementing flood resilience policies and practices.

We use the evidence gained from our own and our partners’ work and research to influence decision-makers at all levels to invest in climate change adaptation and resilience. And where adaptation is no longer an option, to encourage those with the means and responsibility to pay for the losses and damages incurred.

We know that pre-event investment reduces the losses and damages caused by floods. We seek to expand the scope and reach of the programme with new partnerships like those we have with the Swiss Development Cooperation in the Andean region of South America and with the Insuresilience Fund in Nepal.

 With each flood, social bonds are tested, people lose income, family ties are strained. Increasing a community’s resilience to floods is the best way to counter these destructive forces.

Our goals

Our vision is for floods to have no impact on people’s and businesses’s ability to thrive. Through a collection of six country projects and global level advocacy and knowledge work, we aim to prepare, raise awareness and equip communities to manage the impact of floods while encouraging social, political and financial investment in community resilience through partnerships:

  • Increase funding for flood resilience.
  • Improve policies at global, national, and sub-national levels.
  • Improve flood resilience practice.
  • Achievements

    Our flood resilience programme introduces technology, tools and knowledge to forecast extreme weather and build resilience effectively:

    • In Peru, 30,000 people annually use weather information services that we have helped establish for their daily planning. In 2017, during the devastating coastal El Niño flooding, there was no loss of life in the areas where we work. Our team is developing a regional Early Warning System (EWS) collaboration across the Pacific Coastal river basins of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and Peruvian government services.
    • In Bangladesh, we recently launched a National Disaster Alert mobile app jointly with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief that connects local volunteers to government response teams, ensuring a better coordinated response, maximizing efficiency and reducing duplication.
    • In Nepal, we have created 89 Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMCs) connected to local governments. EWS lead times have increased from 2-3 hours to 5-7 hours, and loss of life is lower where we work compared to in river basins without EWS. We have influenced local governments to increase their investment in resilience-building activities.
    • We worked with allies to raise the profile of loss and damage in the negotiations at COP26. And we are working with donors to link COVID-19 support to help developing countries meet their Paris Agreement commitments.
    • In 2021, our five Flood Resilience Portals were visited more than 120,000 times by people from all across the globe and flood resilience practitioners and researchers accessed 15,270 resources through our Flood Resilience Libraries.

Sustainable Development Goals

The Zurich Flood Resilience Programme contributes to progress against four of the 17 SDGs.

By investing in resilient infrastructure and providing training in hygiene measures, we’re reducing the risk of communicable diseases spreading during floods.

11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

By promoting holistic disaster risk management at all levels, we are helping save lives, livelihoods and reducing the financial cost of disasters in communities across the globe.

13 - Climate Action

We’re working with communities, practitioners, researchers, and decision-makers across the globe to build resilience against climate change related hazards

15 - Life on Land

We’re working with communities to protect and restore ecosystems and invest in nature-based solutions which can reduce flood risk.

Find out more about the SDGs

Our ingenious approach combines different solutions that act together to bring about an enormous and lasting change.

Practical Action is an international development organisation that puts ingenious ideas to work so people in poverty can change their world.

We help people find solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems. Challenges made worse by climate change and gender inequality. We work with communities to develop ingenious, lasting and locally owned solutions for agriculture, water and waste management, climate resilience and clean energy. And we share what works with others, so answers that start small can grow big.

Work like this depends on your support

Help us work with communities to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems