Friday, November 16, 2012

A "Participatory Approach" to Strengthening Community-Level Natural Disaster Mitigation

From October 5th - 28th, Maryland resident Maixent "Izzy" Ralaingita provided training in Natural Disaster Risk Mitigation to residents of 3 communities in El Salvador. Mr. Ralaingita, an Emergency and Disaster Management professional, was requested by Salvadorean non-profit PROBUSQUEDA to work with these 3 communities to build their capacity to live safely with natural hazards and deal effectively with natural disasters.

Community members listen attentively as Mr. Ralaingita
reviews disaster mitigation concepts. 
PROBUSQUEDA, which advocates for victims of El Salvador's civil war and provides food security programs for victims and their families, recognized the need for community Natural Disaster Mitigation training when heavy rains in the Fall of 2011 flooded homes and destroyed crops. Community members found themselves inadequately prepared for such an event and unable to effectively and efficiently respond. Thinking about the future and strongly considering the potential negative impacts of climate change, PROBUSQUEDA saw the need to educate communities on the fundamentals of disaster and emergency management and climate change, and to directly involve them in developing a mitigation plan for their respective communities.

Mr. Ralaingita led a total of 8 training workshops in the following target communities: Arcatao, located 6 hours northeast of San Salvador; Huisisilapa, 2 hours north of the capital city; and Guarjila, also in the country's northern region. All together, 166 community members and 16 technicians from the Office of Civil Protection - in charge of national emergency management - participated in Mr. Ralaingita's sessions.
Technicians from the Office of Civil Protection receive
certificates for their participation in Mr. Ralaingita's training.
1 day-long training session was carried out in both Arcatao and Guarjila, but perhaps the most success was achieved in the community of Huisisilapa.   There, residents enthusiastically participated in 3 training sessions, successfully developed a community mitigation plan using a "participatory approach", and organized a Community Disaster Virtual Team to lead disaster mitigation efforts in Huisisilapa going forward.   Mr. Ralaingita noted,
"The community of Huisisilapa has now become one of the most motivated communities energized by our training and support from PROBUSQUEDA. It has become an example community to be declared a 'pilot project' by PROBOSQUEDA."

Mr. Ralaingita believes that the trainings were very successful in promoting a culture of disaster prevention in each of the 3 communities, though he notes that response and mitigation processes "must be updated and must evolve based on contextual change and reality".

No comments:

Post a Comment