Collective initiatives for disaster risk reduction

The reduction of vulnerabilities and the strengthening of adaptive capacities in the SLCPM also involved strengthening the communities’ collective management and reduction of disaster risks, from illnesses to flooding.  For example, faced with faltering access to potable water, and the consequent risks of skin and gastro-intestinal diseases, community investments in infrastructure and health were made. These included a) the installation of rainwater capture systems as well as water purification and bottling equipment; the creation of a community social enterprise “Drops of Love” (“Gotitas de Amor”) through which potable water is produced and provided to the primary school and nursery, and sold on to increase potable water supply to families in the community.

In addition, flood risks to property and belongings were managed and reduced through a collective initiative that included not only the construction of palofitos (roofed platforms on stilts) but also the creation of emergency plans and their promotion through the establishment of a civil protection committee.

  • Sufficient financial resources to be able to make per-diem payments to community members as an incentive to work on the different implementation activities of the project;
  • Capacity to be able to provide evidence to communities that actions identified in workshops are being implemented;
  • Availability of land of sufficient size, as well as strategic position, and preferably in community ownership, for the construction of palafitos that can act as refuges for community goods;
  • Enthusiasm for active participation in implementation of project activities.
  • The construction of the elevated houses (“Palafitos”) can be an effective strategy for managing and reducing flood risks; however, it requires the continued commitment of the community to maintain and equitably use these installations for the benefit of all;
  • It is important to keep in mind that climate change does not just present direct risks for communities and their ecosystems; it also can exacerbate existing structural problems in the socio-ecological systems in which they live. Reduction of risk in the face of flooding, for example, should also include measures for mitigating such problems, such as systemic water pollution derived from ranching, petroleum and sugar cane activities, which makes property damage from flooding much worse;
  • It is important to have concrete plans for upscaling demonstration projects, such as the construction of Palafitos;