Lost voices

The issue

Civil society organisations aren’t systematically sharing the real-life community experience of disasters with national and international decision-makers.

A third of civil society organisations do little to highlight community experiences of disaster risk.

Key facts

Nearly 50% of civil society organisations say they cannot influence their governments to take coherent approaches to disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and poverty reduction at the local level.

44% of civil society organisations do not actively advocate for community priorities at national platforms for disaster risk reduction.

Civil society organisations are not empowered to bring community voices to national platforms for disaster risk reduction.


“This community has taught us that disaster risk reduction is first and foremost a community affair. It’s at the grassroots level that we can win this fight and not through a top-down approach.”

— Jean Bazie, Action Contre la Faim, Burkina Faso


Civil society organisations rarely have a permanent seat at national platforms on disaster risk reduction.

Some fear for their safety if they speak out about the struggles people face. Others, who have failed at influencing policy and practice in the past now have a sense of hopelessness.

A number of civil society organisations don’t know about the disaster risk reduction policy commitments their government has made, and what role they can play.

Knowledge sharing between civil society organisations and communities is happening, but sporadically.

In certain regions local organisations compete with each other to be heard, rather than collaborate. Sometimes civil society organisations will present opinions that fit with their mandate and area of interest, but not necessarily represent the full range of community opinions.

Even when organisations do get the space to amplify community voices, they’re not always listened to.

Civil society is rarely seen as credible by government decision-makers. Indeed it may be considered a threat to business as usual.

In some countries, decision makers do not prioritise risk reduction, and only act when disasters hit. There is also a lack of adaptive capacities and change management skills in many government departments, discouraging them from adopting new approaches to risk reduction.


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): Balram Sethi, 38, takes part in a discussion about resilience building with members of a self-help group in Odisha, India. Balram, who works for a local civil society organisation, was a surveyor for Views from the Frontline. He says: “Here in the village, usually one person attends the Gram Sabha (village council) and represents their family. Obviously, being a patriarchal society, men are given the priority; hence women do not actively participate in the Gram Sabha meetings.” Credit: Sarika Gulati/GNDR

Photo and quote (above): Villagers come together in Niger during a community-based disaster risk management project. Views from the Frontline has been conducted in four regions in Niger: Diffa, Dosso, Niamey and Tillabéri, with over 2,000 people consulted. Conflict and insecurity are the biggest threats people face and most respondents say losses to lives, livelihoods and assets have increased significantly in the last 5-10 years. Credit: Geoff Crawford/GNDR