Building Community Resilience to Disasters

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RAND Corporation

Community resilience, or the sustained ability of a community to withstand and recover from adversity (e.g., economic stress, influenza pandemic, man-made or natural disasters) has become a key policy issue, which is being embraced at federal, state, and local levels. Given that resources are limited in the wake of an emergency, it is increasingly recognized that resilience is considered critical to a community’s ability to reduce long recovery periods after an emergency. The goal of this report is to provide a roadmap for federal, state, and local leaders who are developing plans to enhance community resilience for health security threats. The report describes options for building community resilience in key areas. We provide a definition of community resilience in the context of national health security and a set of eight levers and five core components for building resilience. We describe suggested activities that communities are pursuing and may want to strengthen for community resilience, and we identify challenges to implementation.

This research was conducted from October 2009 through October 2010. It was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and was carried out within the RAND Health Public Health Systems and Preparedness Initiative.