Practical Action, a member of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, are working with flood-prone communities in Thiès -Nord, Senegal. This blog describes how the Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities (FRMC) has helped us identify the best interventions and activities to enhance their flood resilience.
Practical Action and the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance in Senegal
Practical Action has been working in Senegal since 2015 with a focus on energy access and climate resilient livelihoods. In 2020, we launched a French language, regionally focused, Flood Resilience Portal in partnership with the Senegalese organisation IED Afrique.
Our team in Senegal applied the Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities (FRMC) approach and tool in Thiès-Nord throughout 2021, collecting data on 44 sources of resilience in eight flood-affected communities. As reflected on before, urban flooding is a serious problem in Thiès.
Applying the learning from the Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities
The FRMC process helps communities to understand their areas of strength and areas to develop. It empowers them to identify and take action on their highest priority resilience building interventions.
In November 2021 the team in Senegal presented the information they had gathered back to communities, using different lenses such as the Five Capitals (Human, Social, Environment, Physical and Financial) to visualise this data. Community members were able to see their strengths and areas for improvement, and had the opportunity to confirm or challenge the conclusions drawn by Practical Action and key stakeholders.
The results were similar across most of the eight communities. Their knowledge of flood risk and asset protection (human capital) was strong.
How the FRMC data shows us where to take action
The FRMC results showed that the natural environment was degraded (weak natural capital). There are no green spaces managed by the community and few people have knowledge of environmental protection. In order to try to improve this, Practical Action will pursue nature-based solutions, studying the benefits of ecological restoration in comparison to grey infrastructures and promote reforestation programmes with eucalyptus species. We will also raise community awareness on the importance of environmental protection and the role nature can play in reducing flood risk.
There was also a lack of community representation in higher-level decision-making bodies (weak social capital). Practical Action will try to improve this by setting up a Community Working Group and building the capacity of local leadership.
Drawing on Practical Action’s expertise developing Early Warning Systems
The current early warning system in Thiès is not reaching everyone. Practical Action’s experience in early warning systems in places like Nepal and Peru mean we have significant expertise to draw on. You can read more about Strengthening climate information services and Early Warning Systems in Senegal in Practical Action and ISET-International’s recent policy brief.
Practical Action are therefore planning a project we’re calling ‘Improving community knowledge and action on flood risk’. This involves three parts, establishing a community-wide Early Warning System (EWS), generating knowledge on flood risks, and building the capacity of local communities and leaders on good resilience practices. Activities will include training communities to better interpret climate information and adapting existing early warning messages to target specific communities and provide accompanying instructions on what to do when a flood is expected.
Challenges and solutions related to the urban context
Other challenges raised by the community are the uncollected waste blocking the drainage canal and having a direct impact on its efficacy. Poor solid waste management also has serious health, environmental, and economic consequences. You can learn more about challenges in urban waste management in Senegal from Practical Action’s research Managing our Waste 2021.
Practical Action aim to improve the sanitation situation by advocating for continued waste collection services, clean water access, the maintenance of the canal and connections to sewerage systems for communities. We’ll work directly with the communities to raise awareness of waste management, collection and disposal.
When the problem is serious then the solution must be specific. People are still having problems because of the floods.– Local community member during results session, November 2021
When selecting interventions, the Practical Action team, together with key stakeholders and community members, ensured each proposed intervention was feasible, relevant, effective, as well as gender sensitive and inclusive. The team considers the impacts of future climate change projections on their interventions as well as how it will be sustained in the long term through the buy-in of the local community and authorities.
Practical Action will also continue to advocate at the local, national, regional and global level for increased investment in flood risk reduction and locally led adaptation. Stay tuned as we continue to expand our work in Thiès-Nord through to 2024.