About the EnRiCH Project
Disasters are characterized by disproportionate impacts on marginalized and otherwise high-risk groups. Events such as the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and China, terrorist attacks in Moscow and Mumbai, and Hurricane Katrina are salient reminders of how social networks, community capacity and emergency preparedness influence the transformation of an emergency into a disaster, particularly in demands for services and community response capacity.
Resilience is a central component influencing disaster response and recovery. It is a dynamic concept which can be enhanced with appropriate support mechanisms before, during and following a disaster. Ideally, the supports offered during recovery enable individuals and communities to improve their pre-disaster capacity, for enhanced resistance to the negative impacts of any future disaster (Berry & Hutton, 2009). But what supports are needed to enhance resilience among high risk populations? Who is most at-risk and in need of support?
While there is substantial literature on the needs of different populations during community crises and disasters, there is little empirical evidence regarding the effectiveness, feasibility and appropriateness of interventions designed to assist people with functional limitations during disasters. Hence, we developed a proposal to move the research agenda forward to focus on the evaluation of specific interventions to enhance resilience and preparedness for people who are considered to be at higher risk for negative impacts from a community emergency or disaster.
Our project, nicknamed 'EnRiCH' (Enhancing Resilience and Capacity for Health), is a community-based, participatory action research project, utilizing a function-based approach to design, implement and evaluate resilience-oriented interventions in 5 target communities in Canada. The project is divided into the following 5 phases: 1) an environmental scan; 2) development of a prototype tool for identifying strengths/assets/ vulnerabilities; 3) implementation of interventions in 5 communities; 4) evaluation; and 5) dissemination of findings.
The overall purpose of this project is to develop new knowledge on essential elements of resilience-oriented intervention programs to enhance preparedness, response and recovery for CBRNE events or natural disasters. This project will provide empirical evidence on the effectiveness, appropriateness, and feasibility of community mobilization interventions designed to mitigate social risk among high risk population groups, using a community-based participatory research design to plan, implement and evaluate resilience-oriented interventions in 5 communities.
This project will provide tangible tools for emergency managers, first responders, and community organizations to identify strengths/vulnerabilities in their communities. Manuals and other intervention resources will be readily accessible for end users so they can tailor the interventions, build networks, and implement them in their own communities. The comprehensive evaluation will provide detailed information about the key elements to be included in resilience-building interventions, as well as the challenges and barriers end users may encounter as they go through the process of implementing interventions in their communities.