Applying Community Engagement to Disaster Planning

Developing the Vision and Design for the Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience Initiative

Published In: American Journal of Public Health, v. 103, no. 7, July 2013, p. 1172-1180

Posted on RAND.org on June 07, 2013

by Kenneth B. Wells, Jennifer Tang, Elizabeth Lizaola, Felica Jones, Arleen F. Brown, Alix Stayton, Malcolm V. Williams, Anita Chandra, David Eisenman, Stella Fogleman, Alonzo L. Plough

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Research Question

  1. Can community engagement help communities to become more resilient?

Community resilience (CR) is a priority for preparedness, but few models exist. A steering council used community-partnered participatory research to support workgroups in developing CR action plans and hosted forums for input to design a pilot demonstration of implementing CR versus enhanced individual preparedness toolkits. Qualitative data describe how stakeholders viewed CR, how toolkits were developed, and demonstration design evolution. Stakeholders viewed community engagement as facilitating partnerships to implement CR programs when appropriately supported by policy and CR resources. Community engagement exercises clarified motivations and informed action plans (e.g., including vulnerable populations). Community input identified barriers (e.g., trust in government) and CR-building strategies. A CR toolkit and demonstration comparing its implementation with individual preparedness were codeveloped. Community-partnered participatory research was a useful framework to plan a CR initiative through knowledge exchange.

Key Findings

Community engagement can help support community resilience programs.

  • Engagement exercises help to clarify roles and shape action plans.

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