Building Resilience in Communities (BRIC) is a two-year cross-channel project funded by Interreg until June 2023. It brings together eight project partners ( four from England and four from France) to build community resilience in eight pilot sites at risk from flooding. The project aims to help these communities to prepare themselves, to know how to act quickly during a flood, and to recover well after a crisis.
BRIC is a social innovation project that has tested multiple new tools and activities. Through community engagement, awareness raising and training, the project teams have encouraged the creation of new flood action groups and the development of local community resilience networks.
- At the start of the project, water risk awareness within all the pilot sites was low, with an overall average flood preparedness score of 2.2 (1 = not prepared at all; 5 = very prepared).
- Appreciative Inquiry is a powerful tool, and community engagement was more effective because of it.
- Two years is too short to form self-sustaining resilience networks; changing behaviours takes time and requires a sustained amount of effort and engagement.
- Two years is also not long enough to develop fully effective partnerships with gateway organisations; these partnerships are vital to reaching a broader, more diverse audience, thereby maximising attendance at events and ensuring that flood resilience networks accurately reflect their communities.
- People are hard to reach and engage about flooding: many residents are reluctant to admit that they live in a floodprone area. Others see it as the government’s responsibility to solve flood risk issues and are therefore not interested.
- Everyone at risk of flooding is vulnerable, regardless of their economic situation or age: raising flood awareness should be approached as a community-wide issue, aimed as much at those indirectly affected or spared fromflooding as those directly at risk.
- BRIC’s interventions have increased community flood resilience within its pilot sites; the use of social innovation tools has brought people together to discuss flooding, and their flood risk awareness has improved.
- BRIC’s interventions have also increased collaboration, trust and the connection between communities and risk management authorities.
- There is no “one size fits all” in community engagement, so it is beneficial to have many tools to choose from.
- Creative activities that are not directly focused on flooding are the most effective tools for community engagement because they allow conversation about flood risk to evolve naturally.
- A project with social innovation will produce better results, with broader and better quality community engagement.