FRAMES helping hands study: Multilayer safety is more promising than expected
A recent FRAMES study in the pilot Alblasserwaard-Vijfheerenlanden about ‘Helping Hands’ examined how the capacity for spontaneous help offered by the community and the emergency aid capacity provided by government could strengthen one another.
Four principles The study revealed that the community capacity for spontaneous assistance rests on four general principles:
1. Mutual self-reliance: community capacity begins with the acknowledgement that communities are mutually self-reliant, and that the resilience offered by this mutual self-reliance is indispensable when flooding is imminent.
2. Leadership: personal leadership, whether in government or in society, increases community capacity through clear decision-making and the communication of authoritative information.
3. Unambiguity: a clear, unambiguous message gives direction to community capacity, and creates opportunities for society to contribute towards this direction.
4. Partnership in responsibility: the structures and professionalism of government capacity, and the dynamics and power of community capacity, strengthen one another when they experience partnership in responsibility.
The four principles translated for the Alblasserwaard and the Vijfheerenlanden area In the rural parts of the Alblasserwaard and the Vijfheerenlanden area, mutual self-reliance is expressed through a combination of social cohesion and entrepreneurship. In the urban parts of this area the social networks are weaker. There is also a difference in leadership between the towns and the villages; villages often include prominent ‘leading’ figures, whereas in urban areas leadership is more closely linked to institutions such as societies, associations, the church or government. The area is characterized by a somewhat sceptical attitude towards the authorities, and for this reason the clarity and unambiguity of decision-making and communication are important to conveying urgency and offering action perspectives. This critical attitude towards government also demands partnership in responsibility, so that residents feel a sense of coresponsibility.