What is the existing literature on the effectiveness of various interventions in the humanitarian field that are meant to support community resilience? Provide an overview of findings and an annotated bibliography of selected references on the issue. Please pay particular attention to capacity building and collaborations. Selected references can focus on academic literature.
There is very little evidence available of the effects of humanitarian
interventions on resilience for a number of reasons. First, the concept
of resilience as it is applied to disasters and human societies remains
in its infancy. Second, regarding interventions on resilience, there is
a limited evidence base and a short retrospective timeframe. Third, the
quality of available evidence is an issue. Monitoring and evaluation
tends to be geared toward inputs and processes more than outcomes and
impact. A number of other inconsistencies make the evidence base
problematic, including: different definitions and assessments of
effectiveness; the lack of independent assessment in a number of
findings; the evidence base being fragmented and often case- or
sector-specific; some of the literature being speculative, prescriptive
or based on untested assumptions; and the difficulty in establishing
Nonetheless, the following common themes emerge from the literature.
- Resilience is in good part shaped by larger factors, not created by
social engineering. Community resilience is first and foremost an
- Resilience is in part about self-reliance, and donor interventions are
not necessarily central. Overall, the most effective efforts are
context-specific and tailor their goals and activities to local
meanings, priorities and strengths.
- External interventions may do more harm than good. ‘Do no Harm’
principles include the need to commit enough time and resources for
- Community resilience must be viewed as a process rather than an
- Programmes for resilience need to be inclusive. They must be carefully
designed and implemented in relation to the local context, given the
difficulties and risks involved in inclusion.
- Effective coordination between actors is essential, under local or
national leadership. Support must be coherent and cover all aspects of
disaster resilience holistically.
Using an annotated bibliography, section 2 of this helpdesk report
presents general factors shaping community resilience and section 3
presents evidence of the effectiveness of interventions. Section 4
points to additional references.
Combaz, E. Effectiveness of interventions in the humanitarian field to support community resilience (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 15 pp.