Blog 5: Increasing Community Resilience
Community resilience emerges from four primary sets of adaptive capacities: 1) Economic Development, 2) Social Capital, 3) Information and Communication, and 4) Community Competence. Together these provide a strategy for disaster readiness. The main definition of resilience is a process linking a set of adaptive capacities to a positive trajectory of functioning and adaptation after a disturbance. With an understanding of what resilience entails, we will be able to look at a few specific communication strategies that can increase a community resilience.
Information and communication are essential for community resilience or capacity. They both become vital in emergencies. People need accurate information about what is going on and the dangers that are entailed. They also need to know their options and how to respond correctly and effectively. A public adherence to recommendations cannot be taken for granted, especially when there is any uncertainty about exposure or the risks involved with the recommendation. Also, in emergencies it is important to be able to trust the source of information. This is one of the most important resilience assets that any individual or group can have. With this being the case, local sources of information are typically more trusted and likely to be relied upon than unfamiliar distant sources.
Communication infrastructure is also a valuable communication resource. It is advantageous to have a life-line or hotline system in place beforehand. These communication systems can be ramped up after the disaster to coordinate and deploy volunteers, and later provide a central means for the public to learn about and access services. Also, media can be used to publicize available services and educate the public about typical reactions to disasters along with other tools. The media is a great communication tool for community resilience, because media can get trustworthy information out to the public and inform them about what is going on in their community, as well as what they can do to help.
Members of communities also need to have a shared sense of narrative and understanding about what is going on contributes to a sense of place and connectedness, that in turn affects resilience. “Group formations” became a mechanism after horrific disasters. People in the community are able to write about their own experiences in the aftermath of the disaster, such as September 11th, and people then feel a sense of comfort which leads to resilience. When people understand how others in their community feel and that they can relate to one another, it adds comfort to many.