What are the links between flood resilience and COVID-19?

What are the links between flood resilience and COVID-19 response and recovery?

What are the links between flood resilience and COVID-19 response and recovery?

COVID-19 response and recovery packages must be leveraged to build resilience to flood and other hazards and maintain momentum on reducing climate-related risks.

Over the past year governments and donor entities have redirected funds from other humanitarian emergencies, disaster risk reduction, and development activities to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. While the immediate needs created by the pandemic are urgent, funding for resilience and disaster risk reduction are also vital, as natural hazards continue to have an impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Especially in countries and communities most vulnerable to climate change.

Building Back Better

Prioritising community resilience to flooding and other climate related natural hazards has the potential to reduce economic, livelihood, and personal losses.

To help donors and governments embed resilience thinking in their COVID-19 response and recovery packages we’ve put together a list of questions you should be asking yourself during this process:

  1. Are we taking ‘a systems approach’ to recovery from COVID-19? Are we and our implementing partners considering the full spectrum of risks to which communities are vulnerable?
  2. Are we providing enough flexibility to incentivize addressing multiple risks?
  3. Are current lending practices jeopardizing a more resilient recovery? Are debt payments undermining recovery?
  4. Is money going to ‘where it matters most’?
  5. Are we protecting and strengthening communities’ social capital even in times of physical distancing required by COVID-19?
  6. Are civil society perspectives and needs considered in recovery plans?
  7. Do recovery packages fit into long-term development plans that are climate smart and risk informed?
  8. Are projects stimulating local economies and addressing livelihood needs to nurture economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19?

More details on these questions and our recommendations can be found in the policy brief Building Back Better: Ensuring COVID-19 response and recovery builds long-term resilience to climate impacts.

Flood resilient communities cope better during the pandemic

Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance partners found that the communities we work with were comparably well prepared for, and able to respond to, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These communities have the structures needed to coordinate response and disseminate information as they have experience of, and regularly practice, effectively responding to emergencies.

In Nepal SMS services used to disseminate flood early warnings were deployed to spread information about how to prevent spreading the Coronavirus and what restrictions were being imposed. This blog on disaster risk communication also shows how expertise in flood early warning systems could be leveraged to inform of the risk of, and appropriate response to, COVID-19.

Community Disaster Management Committees worked with Nepalese authorities to identify households most in need of emergency assistance as people lost their income, thus ability to feed themselves and their families. They also coordinated local harvests to ensure physical distancing was maintained and hygiene measures like frequent hand washing were adhered to.

In Mexico digital communication channels and social media have been used to continue engagement with communities and to share important information. For example on how to tell the difference between dengue fever, common in the aftermath of flooding, and COVID-19 and what action to take accordingly.

These blogs give an insight into how the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance has leveraged our knowledge on building flood resilience in the face of the global pandemic:

Relevant resources

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For poor countries and vulnerable populations, COVID-19 is a perfect storm. People living in poverty, in informal settlements, and slums, and uprooted