By Sophia Paige Brink
In the time of this global crisis, culturally-responsive and gender-focused community strategies must be implemented to mitigate the disappropriate impacts of disaster relating to COVID-19. This brief serves as a curriculum and tool for community leaders to engage and appropriately respond to community psycho-social health needs.
Culturally-responsive community strategies apprehend and support the languages, cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds that comprise a community, prioritizing positive approaches that advocates for the needs of a culturally diverse community and peoples that are negatively and inordinately affected by disasters.
Gender-focused community strategies aim to include and advance gender justice and equality. These strategies include women economic empowerment, LGBTI+ resource equality, and the resilience and protection of persons across the spectrum of gender identities.
Considering the importance of culturally-responsive and gender-focused community strategies, five factors must be examined and included to strengthen diversity, equality, and understanding. These factors include: communication, technology, education, economic development, and resource coordination.
Community Development Strategies
Communication: Communication to community can advance equality, understanding, and resource coordination, but can also negatively impact marginalized populations when equality and social justice is not taken into consideration. Community leaders should aim to understand the diversity of their community – the families, individuals, cultures, identities, and languages. In doing so, communication to the community – in person and/or by digital technology – can promote, advance, and improve understanding of diverse perspectives and needs.
Technology: The power of technology includes the tools for improvement and radical change. Alas, in lower-income or impoverished environments, many individuals may not have an equal access to technology, which includes internet access and mobile technologies. As technology can ensure a better economic and social landscape, community leaders must review and promote the measures that include an equal access to technology, Additionally, for individuals who are sometimes unable to use technology, it’s important to implement tools to ease access to technology-dependent resources, which can include emergency services. Such tools can include regular in-person check ins by caseworkers or the establishment of local and near emergency services.
Education: Education empowers individuals and amplifies their voices. Education is a critical resource for communities and should be included in community measures and provided resources. Such educational resources within the community can include language development, technology application, career advancement, mental health awareness, and school tutoring. With such provided educational resources, individuals will be able to improve and better their understanding of home, family, health, community, and the global world. Community educational tools are not limited to tools that require significant grants or expenses. Tools can also include encouragement for community walks, cooking classes, and peer-to-peer counseling, that, in return, contributes to improved mental and physical health.
Community Economic Development: Economic development is the creation of wealth to better and uplift communities. Communication, technology, and education are some of the tools which contribute to economic development. Community Economic Development is a market-based approach that fights poverty – stimulating job growth, evaluating the tools to meet basic needs, and formalizing economic opportunities for the population. Wealth-building in community includes the support of local businesses and organizations that, in return, stimulate the production of jobs for local community populations. Some communities experience an unequal access to grants from the state or national level. It is recommended for community leaders to source partnerships with organizations or partners that can contribute to their local economic development. This includes partners focused in commercial development, social enterprises, and technical assistance.
Violence Prevention: Community leaders should always address violence and the possibility of violence within their community. Ecological models of violence reveal that violence occurs due to various psychological, sociological, and/or biological factors, which can include: the lack of mental health support, alcoholism, substance abuse, lack of educational attainment, history of aggression, poverty, and the physical deterioration of a community. Measures to address violence prevention encompass: a) primary prevention: measures that strategize to prevent violence before it occurs b) secondary prevention: tools that address immediate responses in the crisis of violence, such as emergency management, counseling, and pre-hospital care and c) tertiary prevention: measures that review the long-term approach to combat violence, including intervention, rehabilitation, and reintegration, and methods and tools to reduce trauma and long-term disability associated with violence.
Resource Coordination: It’s vital for community leaders to navigate resources, accordingly, for their community. In locating and coordinating resources that can improve and better the community, it’s pivotal to recognize the complex social processes and factors that can either uplift a community or push a community into disastrous situations, as related to mental health, hygiene and basic needs, economy, and education. Resources that are coordinated should work beyond a short-term effect, strategizing for the longer term. Therefore, if and when a disaster does occur, such resources will aid in equality of access to appropriate services and needs. These resources should emphasize and serve all populations within the community. These resources include services for women’s health, LGBTI+ safety, appropriate language translation, and individual-empowerment. Additionally, resources that are coordinated for a community should be easily accessed and be within a central location within the community.
In relation to public health emergency management, community resilience reviews the individual precautionary response as well as the support system that can aid the individual and community in confronting and surviving disaster(s). However, to initiate such community resilience against disaster and emergency, it’s important to coordinate the vital tools that build individual mental, emotional, and physical health, as well as community economic empowerment and development.
To ensure not only the survival but overall well-being of communities, community leaders are encouraged to regularly evaluate the needs of their community, taking in a holistic consideration of the needs of marginalized population(s), women, and children. References:
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Wilson, P. A. (1996). Empowerment : Community Economic Development from the Inside Out. Urban Studies, 33(4-5), 617-630. doi:10.1080/00420989650011753
Dahlberg, L. L., & Krug, E. G. (2006). Violence a global public health problem. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 11(2), 277-292. doi:10.1590/s1413-81232006000200007
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Siddiqui, N. (2011.). Ethnicity and Minority Status Effects on Preparedness. Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief. doi:10.4135/9781412994064.n71