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Strategic Research into National and Local Capacity Building for DRM - Synthesis Report

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Executive Summary

In September 2013, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) contracted Oxford Policy Management (OPM) and the University of East Anglia (UEA) to conduct Strategic research into national and local capacity building for disaster risk management. The overarching question guiding the research activities was ‘what works and why?’ This report sets out the findings of the research, covering trends in capacity building for disaster risk management (DRM), providing lessons learned in relation to the process and content of DRM capacity-building interventions, and outlining recommendations for policy-makers and programme implementers.

Previously there had been little formal research conducted on capacity building for DRM, and as a result international actors lacked robust, evidence-based guidance on how capacity for DRM can be generated at national and local levels effectively. The research was designed as an initial step towards filling that knowledge and evidence gap. This included an extensive literature review which incorporated over 100 resources and was used to develop a conceptual framework for how DRM capacity can be built effectively. This conceptual framework was then tested in six country case studies, including a pilot in Ethiopia and full case studies in Pakistan, Myanmar, Philippines, Haiti and Mozambique. The research also included the study of financial data and a global survey aiming to gather information from DRM professionals on trends in capacity-building activity and views on success factors. These different elements of the research were then analysed to distil lessons and guidance on how to build DRM capacity in a range of contexts. For the purposes of the research, Walker’s (2013:1) definition of DRM capacity building was adopted: ‘efforts to strengthen the competencies and skills of a target organization, group or community so that the target could drive disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts, or, in a broader-sense development, in a sustainable way in the future’.

The rationale for capacity-building initiatives is that they should generate a greater sustained capability to plan for and undertake DRM (outcome) so that the risk to lives and livelihoods from disaster is reduced (impact). An effective capacity building initiative is therefore one that produces outputs that contribute to this change. The focus in this research was on investigating process, outputs and the prospects for successful outcomes. Though the researchers were not able to evaluate outcomes in terms of sustained raised capacity, sufficient signs of emerging outcomes existed such as creation of local DRM structures, integration of DRR into development planning mechanisms, or emerging crosssectoral partnerships to highlight the value that effective capacity building can bring to DRM and DRR.