“Sustainable…Participatory…Resilience”…I have to admit that I hate buzzwords – they get thrown about so much that they can often lose their real meaning and ability to do any good. That is why to me the work of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance is so important. The Alliance works not only to increase the resilience of communities to floods but also to determine once and for all what makes a community resilient?

Resilience is complicated; there are hundreds of papers, discussions and frameworks floating around the development space. Yet there are no empirically verified frameworks that lay out the contributing factors to resilience[1]. If we don’t know this how can we tell if we are successfully building resilience?

To address this, the Alliance has developed the Flood Resilience Measurement Tool. Working jointly, the Alliance has identified 88 different sources that contribute to flood resilience and is currently halfway through a two year testing phase.

The Technology

Here is the most exciting part, the Flood Resilience Measurement Tool has been developed into a web based tool and an App. The web tool allows the user to design a study that can be sent directly to the designated field worker’s Android App in their local language. Working offline the field worker fills in responses directly to the app just like a regular survey. The data is easily synchronised to the web tool which generates a summary and collates relevant data together for simple comparison. A simple A, B, C, D grading exercise is then carried out across all 88 sources by team members before a summary is then automatically produced.

Why is this good for the community?

Helping people cope with climate change. Floating gardens enable poor families in Bangladesh to grow crops even when the land is flooded

The App: Saves our beneficiaries time during data collection so they can get back to doing what matters to them. Automatic uploading of data saves our teams time so they can spend more time working on things that really matter.

The Grading: Generates informed discussion and gives our teams a greater knowledge of where they work, allowing them to make more informed decisions.

The Web Tool: Simply presented results that can be looked at under a variety of lenses allowing us to make links which may have previously been missed.

The Big Data Set: Data is entered into the tool from a variety of different contexts and countries by several different organisations. Through testing pre and post-flood events researchers hope to identify global trends in community resilience and determine once and for all where to focus disaster risk reduction interventions for maximum community impact.

Read more about the Alliance and the Measurement tool or get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[1] Thomas Winderl, “Disaster Resilience Measurements: Stocktaking of Ongoing Efforts in Developing Systems for Measuring Resilience,” United Nations Development Programme, February 2014,

This post was first published on Practical Action Blogs.

Adele Murphy is currently working as Program Officer at Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, International Program Team, UK.
You can contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.