The Importance of Resilience Funding in Disaster Risk Reduction

Now, more than ever, more individuals, communities, organizations, corporations and other entities are asking the questions: How do we best respond to a disaster? How do we plan for one? How can we be prepared? How can our most vulnerable populations be prepared? COVID-19 has forced these individuals and groups across the globe to grapple with disaster planning and response.

Since our founding, the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund (SJCPF) has exercised a Disaster Risk Reduction strategy that prioritizes investments and initiatives that promote and develop community resilience. We recognize the importance of disaster relief and recovery funding to keep communities whole and respond to emergency conditions. We also engage in ongoing investment in community building, capacity, and collaboration.

Our communities are facing ongoing disasters.  COVID-19 does not have an end date, nor do the correlated economic impacts of job loss and reduction or the psychological impacts of sheltering at home for months.  Many people are in isolation, and some live in constant fear of eviction, deportation, or violence.  In fire prone communities, such as our Northern and Southern Californian regions, we face the reality of an unavoidable season of severe destruction and the deprivation and inconvenience associated with preventative de-energization.

The communities that we fund face compounded circumstances based on their upstream conditions – poverty, race/ethnicity, primary language, residency, housing, education, and more.  Studies have demonstrated how race income and health disparities are exacerbated by disasters.[1]

That is why we prioritize community resilience and equity. Our approach entails constant, consistent engagement with the most vulnerable, traditionally marginalized residents in our communities. We support development of individual resident leadership and participation through community organizing and community building. We build the capacity of grassroots community based organizations that serve our most vulnerable, with a focus on equity. The Community Building and Intersections Initiatives are two examples of ongoing investment in community resilience.

When we invest in individual resident resilience and community resilience, it is a long-term commitment that aims to develop a community’s ability to better prevent and cope with adverse experiences, including disasters.  When we invest in resilience, we invest in people and organizations, to empower them to prepare and to change upstream conditions. Such investments result in sustainable change.[2] Investing in community resilience is key to disaster risk reduction, especially in our most vulnerable communities.