Development isn’t risk-informed

The issue

Local development projects rarely take into account the risks communities face.

67% of community members and 47% of local governments think that local investment projects don’t consider local risks.

Key facts

Climate change adaptation, sustainable development and disaster risk reduction have complementary goals, yet they remain separate in policy and practice, each with their own institutions and legal frameworks.

40% of local government representatives surveyed believe their national government is not working to build coherence between strategies.

Poor coherence is resulting in ineffective programmes and inefficient use of vital funds.


“Air pollution is a major issue but we are helpless. If the company shuts down, how will we eat? More than 60 percent of men in the locality work in these companies.”

— Gochhayat, Odisha, India


Good work is being done through specific projects addressing health, agriculture, livelihoods, water, sanitation and many other areas of development.

But programmes need to be integrated so they effectively address the interrelated needs of a community: the risks they face, the impacts of climate change and the options for sustainable development.

Disasters are becoming more complex than ever. The recent floods in Burundi and Fiji during Covid-19 demand that approaches to resilience-building are more integrated than ever and should be based on local-level risk analysis.

Taking these needs separately also adds to the administrative burden of local governments. In interviews with local government officials in Jagobiao Barangay in the Philippines, they reported that they have up to 39 separate national plans that require implementation in their district.

In short, a coherent approach should be taken to ensure the efficient use of scarce resources and reduce the underlying causes of risk.

The town of Tillabéri in Niger experiences regular flooding caused in part by runoff rainwater from a deforested hill on the edge of town. A local organisation collaborated with the community, local government and other civil society organisations to secure land rights and undertake reforestation and anti-erosion activities. Flooding has been reduced, livelihoods have been created in animal husbandry, and the environment has been restored.

But these local examples need to be supported to be scaled out

One of the biggest challenges to risk-informed development is the way that funding is designated. Many institutions offer funding for climate change adaptation, or for humanitarian response, but not together.

This restricts communities in effectively addressing different yet connected needs.

Communities find it particularly difficult to build resilience when recovering from disasters because of the mismatch between their long-term plans and the short-term availability of funding.


All Views from the Frontline data is publicly available to explore online – with options to disaggregate by country, respondent type and more. You can also find out about the survey methodology.

References and photos

Photo (top): Old car tyres have been placed on the Saint-Louis coastline in Senegal to try to protect against high water. Rising sea levels are a major threat in Guet Ndar, a fishing district of Saint-Louis. Views from the Frontline survey respondents in Senegal say that climate change is by far the biggest threat that younger generations will face when they grow up. Credit: Srijan Nandan/GNDR

Photo and quote (above): Sulochona Gochhayat, 38 lives in Jagatsinghpur, India, and took part in Views from the Frontline. Positioned on the east coast, communities in Jagatsinghpur face the threat of cyclones and flooding from sea water. Survey respondents here have highlighted the need to build and strengthen community-based disaster preparedness groups. In this photo Sulochona is weaving a bamboo rice cleaner. Credit: Sarika Gulati/GNDR