Giving Compass' Take:

• Although these guidelines for investing in community resilience are a response to the hurricanes last year, long-term resilience strategies are useful for all types of natural disasters. 

• How can donors specifically support a resilience-based approach toward disaster relief efforts? What are the steps for funders to get involved in supporting communities? 

• Check out the Giving Compass Disaster Relief and Recovery page for donors.  

To what extent are communities where infrastructure is repeatedly in harm's way able to withstand the impacts of major storms? How can they respond effectively, recover quickly, adapt to changing conditions, and manage future disaster risk over time? How can federal agencies help communities make good decisions that will support recovery and help them better prepare for future disasters?

One place to look for answers is a RAND assessment (conducted with funding from the Department of Homeland Security) of the Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines developed by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force in 2013. These guidelines provide a framework for evaluating infrastructure investments (whether through grants, loans, programs, or projects) to help determine disaster-recovery priorities as communities make decisions about long-term rebuilding.

  • A comprehensive, forward-looking, and science-based analysis is critical to building effective resilience. Such analysis should include quantitative and qualitative measures of public health and safety, economic, social, environmental, and cascading (multiple, linked) impacts; changes to climate and developmental patterns; and inherent risk and uncertainty.
  • Incorporating resilience principles in infrastructure investment decisions is easier when communities build a common understanding and awareness of resilience. For instance, when jurisdictions have already identified data on communities and structures at risk, they tend to be more efficient in putting federal funds to work and making longer-term results a priority.
  • Incorporating resilience principles is more difficult when diverse meanings and metrics for resilience are used by stakeholders. Diverse interpretations of resilience include readiness, preparedness, system resilience, economic resilience, speed of recovery, and mitigation. These different interpretations can cause confusion about goals and methods for building resilience.
  • Adopting a systems approach will help communities build resilience. Many agencies and organizations already embrace a culture of resilience. What is relatively new for many, however, is the principle of building resilience via a “holistic systems approach” that underscores the dynamic links among human, social, physical, economic, and natural resources.

Read the full article on investing in resilience by Melissa L. Finucane at RAND