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close this bookDisaster Mitigation - 2nd Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1994, 64 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentUnited Nations reorganization and the Disaster Management Training Programme
View the documentIntroduction
close this folderPart 1 - Introduction to mitigation concepts
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe sanitary revolution: a paradigm for disaster mitigation
View the documentKnow your enemy: hazards and their effects
View the documentSaving life and reducing economic disruption
View the documentTargeting mitigation where it has most effect
View the documentVulnerability
close this folderSpecific Hazards and Mitigation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentFloods and water hazards
View the documentEarthquakes
View the documentVolcanic eruption
View the documentLand instabilities
View the documentStrong winds (typhoons, hurricanes, cyclones, tropical storms and tornados)
View the documentTechnological hazards
View the documentDrought and desertification
View the documentSUMMARY
close this folderPart 2 - Actions to reduce risk
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentReducing hazard vs reducing vulnerability
View the documentTools, powers and budgets
View the documentCommunity-based mitigation
View the documentThe menu of mitigation actions
View the documentSUMMARY
close this folderPart 3 - Mitigation strategies
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAims and methods
View the documentEconomics of mitigation
View the documentPracticalities of mitigation
View the documentOpportunities for mitigation: post-disaster implementation
View the documentEmpowerment and community-based mitigation
View the documentSUMMARY
close this folderPart 4 - Implementing organizations
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentBuilding up skills and institutions
View the documentThe regional context: a problem shared
View the documentInternational exchange of expertise
View the documentSupporting decision-making: external specialists
View the documentKnowledge dissemination
View the documentInternational decade for natural disaster reduction
View the documentDisaster mitigation in UNDP country programming
View the documentInitial phases of the UNDP country programming exercise
View the documentSUMMARY
View the documentAnnex 1: Profile of selected United Nations agencies and their activities in disaster mitigation
View the documentAnnex 2: Acronyms
View the documentAnnex 3: Additional reading
View the documentGlossary
View the documentModule evaluation

Community-based mitigation

It has been argued1 that governments and large development agencies tend to adopt a 'top-down' approach to disaster mitigation planning whereby the intended beneficiaries are provided with solutions designed for them by planners rather than selected for themselves. Such 'top-down' approaches tend to emphasize physical mitigation measures rather than social changes to build up the resources of the vulnerable groups. They rarely achieve their goals because they act on symptoms not causes, and fail to respond to the real needs and demands of the people. Ultimately they undermine the community's own ability to protect itself.

1 Maskrey, A., Disaster Mitigation - A Community-based Approach, Oxfam, 1989.

An alternative approach is to develop mitigation policies in consultation with local community groups using techniques and actions which they can organize themselves and manage with limited outside technical assistance. Such community-based mitigation programs are considered more likely to result in actions which are a response to people's real needs, and to contribute to the development of the community, its consciousness of the hazards it faces and its ability to protect itself in the future, even though technically the means may be less effective than larger-scale mitigation programs. They will also tend to maximize the use of local resources, including labor, materials and organization.

Applying such community-based policies depends on several factors - the existence of active concerned local community groups and agencies able to provide technical assistance and support at an appropriate level, for example, are crucial to success.

Opportunities for community-based mitigation actions should always be sought in developing a comprehensive mitigation strategy.

Nevertheless, opportunities for community-based mitigation actions should always be sought in developing a comprehensive mitigation strategy. They will certainly be cheaper and may be more successful than alternative larger-scale programs.


Community-based mitigation strategies tend to maximize the use of local resources; materials, labor and management.

River defenses being built by local community-based organizations in Rimac Valley, Peru

Maskrey, 1989.