Be Prepared is a straightforward facilitated process which invites community to answer the question: How will your community work together to plan how you will support each other before, during and after disasters? This unique approach to building resilience is focused on community-level activity rather than individual preparedness.
At the heart of the Be Prepared process is the recognition that strong neighbourhoods are the building blocks of resilient communities. A resilient community is able to withstand and build back better after a variety of shocks, including natural disasters. Strong, resilient neighbourhoods are ones where people:
- know each other and socialise frequently
- know the hazards and risks for their location and have a household plan
- have a plan for how the community will work together in a disaster
The Be Prepared project works with community members over several months to go through a variety of steps to build these three characteristics of a strong, resilient neighbourhood.
Unique communities equals unique projects
Each Be Prepared project will be different as it is shaped by the diversity of histories, experiences and characters of each local community. The golden rule with this project is to start with where each community is. This is an important community development principle that ensures projects build from where each community is and does not make assumptions as to what each community needs or how their plan will function.
Moreover, many communities do not have the basic building blocks in place which would enable a community-level planning process to take place (ie. knowing your neighbours), therefore the focus in those communities would be on community-building first and foremost. The benefit of this approach is that it actually supports the local community with their direct needs as well as building local ownership and involvement.
Communities working together
What sets this project apart, in comparison with other resilience and readiness projects, is its focus on communities working together. It is rare in the modern age of fast telecommunications and transportation that people actually know their neighbours - let alone work with them on tasks, activities or projects.
Using a community development approach, Be Prepared helps communities identify where they are, what their initial priorities are and how to host events to start building stronger neighbourhoods. Underpinning this project is the understanding of the importance of putting in place community plans and processes now for future disasters.
How to get started