Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment Field School

1.     Background

The Red Cross Red Crescent has had a focus on reducing disaster risk since the 1980s and, in December 2003, committed itself to minimizing the impact of disasters through implementing disaster risk reduction measures. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (International Federation) Global Agenda, adopted in 2005, acknowledged disaster risk reduction as a program priority and pledged to scale up actions with vulnerable communities and to improve local, national and international capacities.

National Societies have significant capacity in disaster response however, when looking to the broader issue of community resilience the capacities and experiences, as well as the gaps and limitations, are unequally distributed among them. It is suggested that National Societies should adopt a common community resilience approach not only in the field of DRR but in Health and Organizational Development to multiply their knowledge, skills, systems, standards and policies.

Effective strengthening of vulnerable communities’ resilience requires the consideration of information from Red Cross Red Crescent partners such as the United Nations agencies, governments, donors, and civil society as well as information gathered directly from community members. The Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) investigation uses various participatory tools to understand the level of people’s exposure to hazards/threats at the grass-roots level. It is also a tool that enables local priorities to be identified and leads to the design of actions that contribute to the reduction of disaster risks and building of resilience. Community based assessments and their outcomes must be linked with other programs and activities so that they can be mutually reinforcing.

2. Purpose

The International Federation – through its worldwide network of 187 National Societies and extensive volunteer-based membership – is in the best possible position to access disaster-prone locations with genuinely affected communities. In these real-life settings, successful field training can be facilitated. The VCA field school is designed to make use of this unique resource to increase participants’ skill in gathering, analyzing, and using community knowledge to guide planning and programming. Additionally, it aims to equip disaster management and health practitioners with good knowledge and exposure to develop community resilience and strengthen community preparedness for response.

The value addition of this Field School would be in terms of providing a unique learning-by-doing opportunity to participants while reinforcing a common approach toward safety and resilience framework. Participants will also gain exposure to entry points within VCA investigations for discussions of climate risks with vulnerable populations. Outcomes and experiences from the Field School may be shared within Asia and the Pacific on how to facilitate community information gathering to build disaster resilience and capacity.

3. Specific Objectives and Themes

  • To increase participants’ skill in using common process and approach in vulnerable communities
  • To recognize entry points in VCA process for gathering information about climate risks
  • To analyse and validate community information to understand vulnerabilities and capacities
  • To incorporate gathered information into programming goals and specific action plans

4. Expected Outcomes

  • Participant ability to undertake a complete investigation process in their home country including: planning and preparation, community information gathering, analysis and validation, and creation and implementation of programming
  • Assessment findings and plans of action developed for training purposes will be provided to the local Red Cross/Red Crescent Branch to guide ongoing activities and future programming.
  • Close partnership with local branches, volunteers and communities, will build local capacity and improve participant communication skill
  • A documented analysis of the process and the reflections on the appropriateness/opportunities of  regional learning-by-doing, Field School experience

5. The target and selection criteria

The target group for the 10 day event is National Society and branch field level staff, working in Disaster Management and Health. Participants should have direct link to community based programs, experience of community-based work, and a commitment to continuing in this work in their home country.


6. Duration and Venue

The event should be conducted over 10 days, which consists 4 field days and 6 days in meeting rooms from the 19th – 28th March 2012 in Colombo, Sri Lanka under the guidence of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society.  The Field School will include some group training as well as work conducting the field investigation within a vulnerable community.

7. Methodology

The methodology of the event will be participatory and based on practical skill-building.

The Field School has a focus on ‘learning by doing’, while participants are mentored by experienced facilitators throughout the experience. The approach is a practical multi-day curriculum that focuses on the use of Red Cross/Red Crescent’s Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment tools. Learning objectives are achieved through a flexible curriculum and very little classroom instruction is used. The sessions place participants in an at-risk community to undertake the VCA-process while integrating disaster, health and climate-risk awareness.

Participants are divided into small teams of around five participants and are required to engage with the community to complete the entire process. The participants take part in planning and preparation, collecting information from the communities, analysing and validating the information collected, and using the information to create goals and action plans to reduce community vulnerability.

8. Thematic areas covered during the Field School

The Field School may include the following thematic areas:

  • Common approaches to community based programs
  • Using common process and approach to increase community resilience and build capacity
  • Selection of appropriate tools to obtain specific information from community
  • Working together in the community with different stakeholders
  • Finding entry points for climate risk assessment at the community level
  • Systematization of collected information for analysis
  • Tracing vulnerabilities to root causes
  • Identifying vulnerabilities with links to climate risks
  • Consulting with community members to improve analysis
  • Using evidence (triangulation) to draw conclusions
  • Comprehensive analysis and validation of community information
  • Engaging community to identify capacities to address vulnerabilities
  • Linking community priorities and on-going programs or projects to build capacity
  • Identifying community priorities that could be addressed through partnerships or networks
  • Using information from the assessment in integrated programming

10. Facilitators

The Field School will be facilitated by experienced staff drawn from the South Asia regional delegation and from a team of facilitators from South-East Asian National Societies and delegations that has facilitated two of these field schools previously. Facilitators with expertise in the VCA process, analysis and validation of community information, DRR, Health, and climate risks will provide support to the Field School participants.

For more information on this please contact:

Colin Fernandes
Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies  
South Asia Regional Delegation
Base Station: C/o Sri Lanka Delegation |104, Dharmapala Mawatha
Colombo 07 | Sri Lanka
Direct Tel: +94 11 765 1432 | Mob. + 94 773 647  960 | Fax. +94 11 4621079
E-mail: [email protected]| Skype: kolyn.fernandes