Giving Compass' Take:

Community-led disaster response is crucial to address the aftermath of natural disasters and can help build resilience. 

How can donors help fund community-based resilience programs for disaster relief?

Check out the Giving Compass Disaster Relief Magazine.

A little less than two years ago, Judith Rodriguez was one of the roughly 50,000 people living in the mountain town of Cayey, Puerto Rico when it was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

In response to this untenable situation, the Centros de Apoyo Mutuo (CAMs), or mutual aid centers, began springing up all over the island. When Rodriguez learned about a community kitchen, she wanted to contribute

The CAMs began as community kitchens with volunteer cooks eventually taking on a whole new life, evolving into full-fledged community centers that share electricity, provide weekly acupuncture clinics to reduce the symptoms of trauma, and offer classes. Acting as an excellent example of what community-led disaster response and recovery can look like, the CAMs focus on the needs and abilities of the people and provide an avenue for the general public to participate in mutual aid, not charity.

The mutual aid centers in Puerto Rico are just one of innumerable examples from around the world of communities that create systems change after disasters. This kind of collective heroism seems to naturally emerge every time a disaster occurs across cultures, be it an environmental, social, or political disaster. It’s worth taking a moment to reflect upon this phenomenon because it could be an important avenue for accelerating positive change if acted on with more intention.

When disasters occur, the majority of news coverage teeters on the edge of “disaster porn,” focusing on the sheer mass of destruction and disruption to the affected regions. The reporting routinely underplays the local communities’ responses to the hardships they face and the ways they come together to support each other during times of disruption. News stories often lack a larger context for the pre-existing social disasters that were present in those communities.

Read the full article about community resilience in disaster relief by Tom Llewellyn at Shareable.