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Articles on : Organizational and Humanitarian Leadership (French & English) since 2017.

Humanitarian Leadership: Participatory Analysis of Capabilities and Vulnerabilities including Gender for the Success of Humanitarian and Development Projects.

I. Participatory Analysis and the notion of risk

1. Risk concept


1.1.Some definitions


a) Risk is a likely event that, if it is, could affect your ability to maintain peace and security.

Event that may cause harm to or endanger the safety of your personnel and damage or destroy the property or reputation of the players.

The term "risk" conveys the idea that a program or transaction is likely to evolve differently than expected.

b) The threat: means the presence of an element that could cause serious consequences if it came into play.

The impact of a risk: It can affect many factors, individually or collectively, eg. people, safety, project impact, budget, deadlines, activities, reputation, etc.

c) Impact: if such risks were to materialize, what would be its impact (on a scale from benign to catastrophic)? Impact assessment must consider all the ways in which risk may affect protection.

d) Probability: what is the probability of such a risk occurring (on a scale from unlikely to very likely)

1.2. Risk Management Strategies

  • Anticipation or prevention: identifying the causes and acting in such a way as to reduce the likelihood that the risk will materialize;
  • Delegation: instruct others to assume the risks and consequences by assigning responsibility for the risk activity to someone who can deal with it;
  • Reaction and contingency planning: put in place corrective actions to minimize or offset the impact of the risk if it materializes.

The secret to increasing resilience and reducing the risk of disasters.

While many state and non-governmental organizations fail to reduce disaster risk and promote a culture of resilience to disasters, there are two elements that escape them. These include: (i) understanding the hazards and physical, social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities to disasters faced by most of societies; and ii) how these hazards and vulnerabilities evolve in the short and long term. Once the knowledge acquired on this risk, it will be sufficient to undertake actions related thereto. The methodology provides sufficient flexibility to adapt objectives and tools to address the most relevant issues for each community.

1.3. Advantages of considering risks by context analysis

Generally, disasters do not come at random. From time to time, they are sensed, far off in one way or another. If organizations neglect this aspect, they should not expect humanitarian and development projects to reduce people's vulnerability. Rather, it will only aggravate it! It is enough to refer to the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015) adopted by 168 countries in January 2005 to better understand how to understand the risks is put forward in.

Risk analysis through the study of the context focuses on the needs of the population, factors of vulnerability, stakeholders, local culture, local capacity, infrastructures, environmental security, lessons learned, past events, responses to past events, factors key (political, economic, geographical, ideological, psychological, ethnic, socio cultural, ...).

1.4. Who is responsible for doing a risk analysis?

If we want to do a better analysis of the risks, it suffices to consider that this responsibility does not belong to a single actor. It is a participation that involves all stakeholders. It takes a broad participation. Who are then concerned?

  • The State through its special departments;
  • Humanitarian organizations;
  • Local associations,
  • Pressure and lobby groups (civil society, scientific groups, ...);
  • The media;
  • Religious communities/leaders,
  • Women's associations
  • Girls associations
  • Etc.
  1. 1.5.  What kinds of risks?

Any wise person knows that if any humanitarian project runs without risk analysis it become vulnerable. Beneficiaries become more vulnerable when even the response to them is at risk.

The central concept of risk analysis should be understood here as a methodology to determine the nature and extent of risks, by analyzing potential hazards and assessing the existing conditions of vulnerability whose combination can potentially affect the population, their goods, services, livelihoods and the environment on which they depend. Therefore, it is desirable to go further than disaster risks and consider others such as:

  • Security risks,
  • Political risks,
  • Ecological risks;
  • The risks of community tensions,
  • Epidemiological risks,
  • Electoral risks,
  • Economic risks (inflation, ...),
  • Participatory Analysis of Local Capacities

2. Analysis of local resilience capacities

Participatory evaluation is not about identifying risks and limiting them. Rather, it involves making an imperative diagnosis that can help stakeholders respond in real time to reduce the vulnerability of populations.

The role of the experts is then to support the community in producing its own analysis of the existing risks and to identify the specific measures to be taken to reduce these risks.


  • The analysis of the probable eruption of a volcano must be analyzed with a community evacuation plan,
  • The analysis on the presence of armed groups that can compete in the city, can be followed by a local plan of community protection,
  • The analysis of the outbreak of an epidemic can be followed on a plan or strategy of reduction of expansion of the disease in zone not yet affected;

Any vulnerability risk analysis, including the local capacity (within a community) to deal with the problem identified, allows to know what is feasible or not. Once made with all stakeholders, this analysis gives confidence because it is the result of all the strengths, attributes, and resources present within a community, society, or organization, and that can be used to achieve agreed goals. It is a "homemade" analysis that is neither an external evaluation nor imposed or imaginary or bureaucratic.

3. Vulnerability and capacity analysis in the project cycle including Gender

The humanitarian or development project that considers participation is less exposed to risks and hazards. As a response to an identified problem, the project itself does not bring other problems, but it helps to reduce them. Yet, it has imperatively to include Gender aspects to ensure the participatory requirement is complete.

Thus, a good analysis of capacities and vulnerabilities must be done in all phases of the project, namely: i) formulation of policies and strategies, ii) analysis, iii) planning, iv) implementation, v) monitoring and evaluation of activities. The advantage of this strategy is that it also allows the full involvement of key actors in identifying relevant strategies and planning, implementation and evaluation. She sees the project's chances of success, as well as the sustainability of the results by involving stakeholders in all phases.

As the project continues and the first results are recorded, the level of risk should decrease - at least if no disaster or other malicious event has an impact on the community. Whatever the scenario, it is relevant to apply the tools as part of the monitoring and evaluation of the project. This updated method will highlight the progress made and identify the necessary adjustments in real time. It is also good for the final evaluation phase to measure whether the project has been successful and whether it helps to identify other priorities for action.

4. Ensure good communication

Communication is of paramount importance in the analysis of vulnerabilities and capabilities. All parties must be reassured that they have the same information and in real time. The coordination of how the flow of information will be managed within the stakeholders, and how each of them will handle the complaints is of utmost importance. Information is the nerve of the action because without information, it is impossible to know what to do, and how.

The importance of sharing and integrating data (including those collected by other stakeholders) should also be kept in mind. How to facilitate good communication?

It is by the following means:

  • Joint meetings,
  • Phone calls,
  • Suggestions box,
  • Collection of anonymous complaints,
  • Joint evaluation missions,
  • Videos conferences,
  • Project log,
  • Local medias (radio broadcasts),
  • Etc.

5. Conclusion

Participatory Analysis of Capacities and Vulnerabilities (PACV) is key to the success of humanitarian and development projects. It enables stakeholders to better identify risks, determine local capacities, preventative and responsive actions to reduce the negative impact of events or negative situations on communities. This analysis must be done throughout the project and must include all parties. Ensuring good communication allows everyone in their responsibilities to become actively involved while progressively adjusting their actions to meet the challenges. Each community has its own way of seeing things, which is why with the assistance of experts, the risks are easily detectable and attackable.

5. Summary biography

  1. H. de Dios (2002) Participatory Capacity and Vulnerability Assessment: Handbook of the EPCV. Oxfam GB.
  2. M. Estrella and H. de Dios (2002) Integrating Disaster Management and Development. Final report. Oxfam GB - Philippines.
  3. Report of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (Section 2-17) - A / CONF.206 / 6 - 16 March 2005.
  4. UNISDR Terminology
  5. Report of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (Section 2-17) - A / CONF.206 / 6 - 16 March 2005.

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