Why is it Important to Engage Communities in Preparedness Efforts? - Safecastle

Why is it Important to Engage Communities in Preparedness Efforts?

Community Preparedness is to prepare all community members for the events and lessen the impact of the disaster.

It's the responsibility of the government to formulate, test, and refine emergency disaster operation plans.

Preparedness is shared actions by the government, community members, NGOs, and every citizen.

By working as a team, everyone can assist to save the nation from damage and help to keep it resilient when affected by risks, such as natural disasters - earthquakes or tornados, human acts - terrorism, and unexpected pandemics - covid19.

For instance, the United States experienced 18 climate disasters in 2022, 20 events in 2021, and 22 events in 2020.

The climate disasters in 2022 include:

  • Cold wave in central and eastern US.

  • Floods in Missouri and Kentucky

  • Tropical cyclones in Fiona, Ian, and Nicole

  • Derecho in the central U.S.

  • Tornado outbreak in Southern U.S.

  • Wildfire in Western U.S.

The 18 disaster events of 2022 listed about 474 fatalities (direct or indirect).

Economically, 2022 disaster damages totaled about $165.1 billion as calculated by the consumer price index, 2022.

The most destructive and costly disaster event was Hurricane Ian, ($112.9 billion) and central heat wave ($22.1 billion).

Historical Background Of Disasters In the U.S.

The disaster events from 1980 to 2022 listed in U.S. Billion dollar events are dominated by losses by tropical cyclones.

Tropical cyclones in the U.S. cost about $22.2 billion per event totaling about $1,333.6 billion from 1980 to 2022.

Drought cost about $327.7 billion and storms have done damages of about $383.7 billion.

For instance, hurricane Ian made damages near Cayo Costa, Florida, as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph in 2022.

Ian slowly entered Florida causing inland flooding across central and eastern parts of the state with overall 10 to 20 inches of rainfall.

Hurricane Ian's impact is the first in US history to go above $100 billion in confirmed and unconfirmed casualties in Florida.

As soon as the hurricane cleared, nonprofits and relief organizations were on-site delivering emergency resources to hard-hit communities.

Many community engagement teams helped to deploy the residents from the affected areas to safer places and also helped in rebuilding the damaged properties with government funds.

Why Is It Important To Engage Communities In Preparedness Efforts?

Engagement of communities in preparedness efforts along with organization and government is essential as they understand the needs and demands of a particular region in a better way and can help locals combat the risks and effects of a disaster event.

  • When communities are engaged in preparedness actions for disasters that lead to improved strength and preparedness effectively.

  • Trust between organizations and communities acquired by community engagement results in efficient coordination and activeness during crises.

  • Community preparedness influences the reduction of disaster impact.

  • Community helps to educate the public to reduce threats during disasters.

  • Communities create connections with federal, state, and local officials to identify and mitigate climatic dangers.

Challenges Faced While Community Engagement For Preparedness Efforts

Community engagement faces many internal and external challenges.
Some of them can be overcome by useful resourcing and a convenient strategy to reduce dangers and challenges.

The most common 5 challenges in community engagement are:

  1. Lack of Resources - Communities often lack time and experienced staff to effectively make reports and feedback for all the phases of disaster events.

  2. Accessibility- Community engagement involves holding events in varied areas to train people in their local languages which could limit access to useful training and community engagement.

  3. Equal Representation- A community engagement had to make sure that all voices of the representatives are listened to equally and had to plan surveys and voting to get data about the deeper parts of the community.

  4. Disillusionment - community engagement becomes disillusioned if their intakes are not taken forward and they may get furious if their opinions are not included in preparedness efforts.

  5. Proper Governance - a structured governance strategy to community elegance allows the community and organization to have a balanced effort to fight disaster events but involves conflicts and resistance by the members.

Effective Strategies For Effective Community Engagement

  • Create a safe and secure environment for community engagement.

  • Give your community a sense of purpose.

  • Test diverse engagement techniques.

  • Communicate with your neighborhoods to know about their dangers and needs.

  • Encourage multi-channel community engagement consisting of local, federal, and state governments along with the community.

  • Make it fun and an active community engagement training.

  • Make space for each member's training by acquiring effective cooperation among communities.

  • Conduct outreach and training sessions for the community to be prepared to encounter any disaster or climate event.

The Role of Government and NGOs

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a nonprofit organization that is self-dependent rather than on governments or global governmental organizations.

The United States firmly believes that a strong civil community is independent of state control or government involvement and is important for democracy to grow.

Collaboration with the NGOs and government by a community to engage in preparedness efforts results in a better strategy for the help and initiatives taken to maintain the damages and risks resulting from a disaster.

The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Amnesty International are considered examples of NGOs that worked together with communities to work effectively with government approaches and community engagement.

A strong bond between communities and elected officials at federal, state, and local levels of government helps to recognize and reduce threats related to climate disasters like tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and many other disasters.

The Role of Technology And Social Media In Community Engagement

Technology has widely changed the actions and ways of community engagement as it allows the spread of arguments, risks, information, and a sense of community to a wider range of the public.

The tendency of community involvement has increased the interest of residents to get involved in Community engagement for useful preparedness against disaster risk.

Mobile apps help the community to get related with interested members all around the world and are the easiest way to convey and send messages to have effective community engagement.

Social Media plays an important role in community engagement by circulating information, opinions, and responses of community members.

And in case of any disasters, social media helps relatives and friends to get information about their loved ones.

During COVID-19 Pandemic:

Community preparedness played an important role in contagious disease prevention and control during covid 19 epidemic.

Different community groups are made at different levels to develop, plan, communicate, and administer preparedness efforts to overcome the epidemic.

States in the USA are encouraged to evaluate community engagement structure and approach to prevent and control measures to control the covid 19 spread.

Natural Or Human-Induced Disasters

  • About two-thirds of American citizens are not fully prepared for possible natural or human-made disasters.

  • But community preparedness can help them to overcome natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and earthquakes or human-induced disasters like terrorist attacks.

  • The community should develop an effective neighborhood evacuation plan.

  • Communities can distribute area maps to the community members and residents of the area.

  • Make people aware of alternate routes to leave the area before a natural disaster.

  • Citizens and communities should have generators, emergency evacuation kits, and radios with them.

  • Communities can conduct drills to get prepared for surveillance and evacuate the area in case of an emergency.

Rural Areas

When disasters, whether natural or human-induced, strike rural communities, the community should be ready to provide healthcare facilities and respond to them vastly.

Rural areas communities can effectively deal with emergencies if they are prepared to face challenges with restricted resources.

Community engagement in rural areas faces a lack of resources, remoteness, communication issues, lack of high-level healthcare facilities, and low population density.

To get prepared for rural community engagements, the workers should be made familiar with local languages and know the local routes of the rural areas.

The community can conduct drills to address emergency disasters through effective coordination.

Funding For Community Preparedness

Preparedness grants by the US government support citizens to build and sustain the capability to protect and mitigate terrorism and other disasters.

Federal grants are provided for states and organizations for food, healthcare, and other utilities during disasters.

Grants given by the government to provide public services and support recovery initiatives are listed in the catalog of federal domestic assistance.

CDC public health elemercencu preparedness provides funding to 50 states, 4 cities, 8 US territories, and freely associated states.

CDC provides funds for public health preparedness and responses during emergencies.

Communities also collect funds from US citizens and others by conducting fundraising programs during disasters to overcome problems.

Mental Health

All the people who get affected by emergency disaster experience psychological distress.

People who have experienced war or terrorist attacks have depression, post-traumatic stress, or bipolar disorder.

International guidelines indicate that mental health care should be available during preparedness efforts in community engagement.

The mental disorder is normal during a disaster but most of the people improve without any treatment but some disorders like depression and anxiety are high in areas affected by disasters.

Clinical care should be provided to reestablish community groups by engaging them in emergency relief.

Mental health is important for the overall social and economic recovery of individuals, societies, and countries after a disaster.

In conclusion, there are many reasons why it is important to engage communities in preparedness efforts. By working together, we can make our communities safer and more resilient in the face of disasters.

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