Mountainside Community in Kobe / Julie Gibson - Flickr Creative Commons

Empowerment of community and local disaster response and management capability

The Hyogo Prefectural Government (Hyogo) increased the ratio of organized community-based disaster prevention organisations (from 27.4% in 1995 to 94.9% in 2013) by providing rescue equipment to each community and encouraging communities to make use of the equipment for disaster prevention drills. In an effort to encourage the activities of disaster prevention organisations, Hyogo established a community leader development programme called the “Hyogo Disaster Management Leader Training Course.” In addition, it launched the “Hyogo Disaster Management Special Promoters System,” which is a system designed to dispatch specialists to teach disaster prevention activities to local communities.

 Case Study

Empowerment of community and local disaster response and management capability


To reduce the damage from disasters, Hyogo encourages citizens’ efforts and helps local communities increase their disaster prevention capabilities. In the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (GHAE), about 80% of persons trapped under collapsed houses were rescued by nearby residents. This fact highlighted the importance of self-help and mutual-help among citizens during a disaster. In the recovery phase, a major challenge is how well local citizens can be organized and revitalized for evacuation shelter operations, and community activities at emergency temporary housing. In urban areas, citizens tend to have only a limited relationship with their neighbours and so one might not expect community members to offer mutual assistance. In 1995, Hyogo’s average ratio of disaster prevention organizations in each community was low (about 27%), presenting the government with the challenge of raising this ratio.

Coping Strategy

In order to reinforce the capabilities of disaster prevention organizations, it was essential to provide equipment and drills for disaster prevention to each organization. However, individual municipal governments, responsible for developing disaster prevention organisations, found it real challenging to secure a budget for such initiatives on their own. Since it urgent to organize local citizens for those organizations and raise their capabilities, Hyogo implemented the “Special Voluntary Disaster Prevention Organization Support Program,” a scheme in which Hyogo provides each municipal government with half of the budget to provide equipment to its local communities. Since disaster prevention organizations are requested to have disaster prevention activities such as evacuation drills in ordinary times, and evacuation guidance at the time of disasters, in addition to maintaining equipment, they are expected to take actions in a sustainable manner. For the purpose of developing community disaster leaders, Hyogo set up the “Hyogo Disaster Management Leader Training Course,” a programme composed of a 50 hours total training curriculum. Through this course, systematic and practical training is provided to local citizens. Moreover, by registering disaster prevention specialists, the “Hyogo Disaster Management Special Promoters System” was established to give lectures on disaster management and provide advice on the planning and running of disaster prevention training programmes. Based on this system, Hyogo has been dispatching specialists to local communities, schools and companies upon their request.


From 1997 to 2001, Hyogo provided about subsidies totaling 765 million to 3,970 organizations to install equipment for disaster prevention, which resulted in raising the organized ratio of community-based disaster prevention organizations to approximately 96%. The number of persons who completed the Hyogo Disaster Management Leader Training Course stood at 1,670 as of the end of fiscal 2013. During the same year, Hyogo Disaster Management Special Promoters were dispatched to various organisations on 122 occasions.

Measuring Success

The initiatives prompted a wide range of community-based disaster prevention organizations to start conducting disaster management training programmes, which led to an upgrading of the capability of community disaster prevention, evidenced by the practice of calling other citizens to evacuate at the time of typhoon attacks and heavy rainfalls.

Potential for replication

It is important for local communities to have an organization that promotes disaster management programmes. While Hyogo provided subsidies for disaster prevention equipment to raise the organized ratio of community-based disaster prevention organisations, policy makers should encourage communities to organize such community-based organizations through creative, flexible, less costly methods such as evacuation training, and presentation meetings that match the situation of the local community.

Information of Contact Person

Mr.Masahiko MURATA – Director, Research Department

Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI)

1-5-2 Wakinohama-kaigandori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, 651-0073, Japan

Tel: +81-78-262-5065 / Fax: +81-78-262-5082



Mr.Naoki Nakatsu

Chief, Disaster Management Project Planning Division,

Disaster Management & Planning Bureau,

Civil Policy Planning & Administration Department

5-10-1 Shimoyamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-8567, Japan

Tel: +81-78-362-9870 / Fax: +81-78-362-9914





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