A Pathway to Initiate Bottom-Up Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction Within A Top-Down System: The Case of China

A Pathway to Initiate Bottom-Up Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction Within A Top-Down System: The Case of China

Timothy Sim Lena Dominelli Jocelyn Lau 

Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong

School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK

30 September 2017
| Citation



In China, as in other countries, inadequate knowledge of local vulnerability and hazard characteristics, and a rapidly industrialising society render enhancing resilience to natural disasters particularly challenging. This is particularly evident in rural areas with limited human and financial resources available for disaster risk reduction initiatives. The Chinese government institutionalized a top-down community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) system to ensure that the capacity of communities would be enhanced effectively. In the long run, a top-down management style often undermines local capacities and vernacular DRR (disaster risk reduction) knowledge. There is a need to recognize the importance of communities as complex and dynamic entities in reducing disaster risks. Adopting participatory action research (PAR), this in-progress exploratory study examines a pathway to initiate bottom-up CBDRR within China’s top-down institutional setting. Through PAR, the study of a rural village in Shaanxi Province shows that bottom-up initiatives can complement the existing system. Its current progress demonstrates the potential for using a transdisciplinary perspective to initiate CBDRR in China, where both top-down and bottom-up approaches, come together alongside different disciplines to increase a rural community’s disaster resilience.


community, community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR), disaster risk reduction (DRR), Sendai Framework, rural China, top-down and bottom-up approaches to CBDRRR, participatory action research, natural disaster


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