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Promoting social entrepreneurship in disaster risk reduction to build community resilience: Pilots in Malaysia and Cambodia


According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Southeast Asia has been experiencing more frequent climate-related disaster events and an exponential increase in annual deaths for the past thirty years. In addition to immediate economic and human losses, disaster-affected populations experience long-term unemployment, poverty, health issues, and other effects that undermine communities’ capacities to recover from disaster and to cope with future events.

Evidence shows that entrepreneurship is crucial both to long-term community resilience and to reducing poverty, vulnerability, and disaster risk in communities moving toward recovery and reconstruction. Academic peer-reviewed literature, however, has paid little attention to the role of social entrepreneurship, and there is almost no discussion of barriers inhibiting female social entrepreneurs from improving the well-being of communities still reeling from climate-related disasters.

This project aims to foster long-term community resilience to climate change in Malaysia and Cambodia by empowering young female social entrepreneurs to develop disaster resilience plans via the use of geographical information systems and crowd-sourcing technology. It will conduct action-oriented research and capacity-building activities via four pilots (three in Malaysia and one in Cambodia). The Malaysia sites comprise, respectively, coastal zone, floodplain, and highland areas. The project will also run a pilot in a region in Cambodia that reports drought, coastal hazards, groundwater shortage, and subsidence. To promote social entrepreneurship as an effective means of disaster risk reduction, the project will investigate fast and slow-onset hazards specific to these areas.

The project should positively affect 135,145 young women (20 to 40 years old), who will serve as catalysts to promote broader civil society engagement and to mobilize female social entrepreneurship in the development of disaster resilience plans in the four pilots. The disaster resilience plans will help the provincial governments develop local disaster risk reduction strategies, which in turn will benefit more than 5.7 million people in Malaysia and more than 716,000 in Cambodia.

Project ID
Project Status
36 months
IDRC Officer
Melanie Robertson
Total Funding
CA$ 480,500.00
Institution Country
Project Leader
Joy Pereira
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia