Community-led DRRM Skills Transfer and Mentoring by Alay Bayan-Luson, Inc.

Brgy Cadiz, Bagulin, La Union

Aprilyn Perido, Kent Eric Gaspar, Lestino Begnayen, & Trisha Fortes

Community to community skills transfer and mentoring, where Alibangsay Disaster Preparedness Organization (DPO) can share their knowledge, skills, experiences and lessons to capacitate the Disaster Preparedness Organization (DPO) of Cardiz. ABI Staff can then assist the Alibangsay DPO in conducting participatory skills training sessions with practicum and continuous monitoring. DPOs are essentially volunteer formations in the community, and the local counterpart of the BDRRMCs.

The Disaster Preparedness Organizations will enhance and sustain the sharing of knowledge, skills, experiences, and lessons to strengthen and capacitate their organizations to lead their communities in confronting disaster events, social issues, identify and address the root cause of their vulnerabilities and further improve the relationship among DPOs and communities.

CONNECT WITH US!

Improvements and sustenance of the Disaster Game needs financial and technical support. We plan to have at least monthly updates on the storyline as well as technical aspects of the app. We also envision to replicate this project to other communities around Vigan City as well as in the region for the next three years.

We hope that with your help, the youth can be an agent of change in creating disaster resilient communities.

alaybayan@gmail.com

Know more about our story!

Two years of field work in Bagulin has proven to me that community-based disaster management (CBDM) knowledge and skills can be learned by community members who have the capacity for it.

CAN WE BE REALLY DRRM INSTRUCTORS

So asks Trisha Fortes, resident of Brgy. Alibangsay in mountainous Bagulin town, La Union, at the inception workshop last April 2018. She is one of the members of the Disaster Preparedness Committee of the barrio, organized two years ago by Pampanga-based NGO Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. (ABI) under their community-based disaster management program. Under the Tuklas Innovation Labs’ project, she is one of the community instructors tasked to transfer her skills and knowledge in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) to residents of adjacent barangay Cardiz.

Trisha is a mother of two and wife to a member of the Kankana-ey ethnic group that makes up the majority of the Bagulin population. The latter is a fifth-class municipality with approximately only 8,000 voters. Most of the residents live in the mountain barangays. The only means of transportation to and from the town center services the community only every Tuesday and Friday. The jeep leaves at dawn so most people must wake up before sunrise on those days. On other days, motorcycles may be commissioned but fare is very expensive.

Trisha was one of the trainees of ABI field officer April Perido, who became the lead of the composite ABI and DPC team that responded to the call for proposals from Tuklas Innovation Labs in September 2017. April and Kent Gaspar, represented ABI while Tricia, then Alibangsay DPC chair Nestor Cabading, and Brgy Cardiz DPC chair Lestino Begnaden represented the partner communities.

“Two years of field work in Bagulin has proven to me that community-based disaster management (CBDM) knowledge and skills can be learned by community members who have the capacity for it,” shared April.

April attended the information session conducted by Tuklas Northern Luzon in late September 2017 in Baguio City. She asked for advice from the Tuklas team on how to innovate on her idea built upon the previous observation. She proposed that, with language barrier and the natural shyness of the Kankana-ey to strangers, it would be more effective if local NGOs will train community-based DRRM instructors to conduct the trainings to their own community and adjacent ones. In December, April and Kent attended the regional writeshop with the other 16 shortlisted applicants and were assigned to be mentored by then Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC) Executive Director Suyin Jamoralin.

“Of course, I knew from previous projects with ABI that they have one of the strongest community engagement and organizing track records in Northern Luzon. So I told them to capitalize on that experience,” shared Ms. Jamoralin, who went on to mentor the team after they were selected as one of the final 10 grantees.

TRAINING TO CAPACITATE THE COMMUNITY

“ABI gave us trainings on how to handle and prepare for disasters. We organized a disaster preparedness committee (DPC). Because of their help, our community came together for road clearing, repair of water hoses and assist in the relief operations during Typhoon Lawin,”Nestor shared.

The success of the Alibangsay DPC was recognized by both national and international humanitarian NGOs, cited by German program funder Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe and the Global Network of Civil Society Organizations for Disaster Reduction (GDNR). The transformation of Alibangsay DPC leaders like Nestor and Trisha from shy and uneasy workshop participants to confident speakers was evident in the evaluator interviews and CBDM national learning fair organized by CDRC in 2017.

The approved Tuklas DRR innovation of team ABI was built on the idea that development and humanitarian NGOs should work towards building the capacities of remote and vulnerable communities to be self-sustaining when and if their programs end. In previous years, it was all too easy for NGOs to just leave after their program ends. The ABI innovation consists of development and testing of instruction modules to be used by community instructors to teach DRRM concepts to fellow community members. The modules draw on the CBDM training manual that ABI uses but modified to make it easier for less formally-educated but potentially talented community
instructors.

The training program consist of 7 modules:
1. Basic Concepts of Disaster;
2. CBDM as a system of disaster management;
3. Organizing a disaster preparedness committee;
4. Community-led Hazard, Vulnerability and Capacities
Assessment;
5. Preparedness, Response and Recovery;
6. Mitigation and Adaptation Measures; and
7. Basic Leadership Training

The barangay Alibangsay DPC members were asked to volunteer as community instructors to trainees of barangay Cardiz. They were asked to choose among the topics the ones they felt they knew best.

To measure the effectiveness of instruction, two evaluation instruments were designed with advice from the team’s DRRM mentor. The first one consisted of the performance evaluation made by ABI staff during the instruction dry run conducted before actual training activities. The second one consisted of the performance evaluation made by the trainees from Cardiz of the Alibangsay instructors.

To address results of the qualitative instruments of measurement, informal critique and feedback sessions were done by ABI staff as they made house calls on Cardiz residents. Quantitatively, the trainings were observed to attract bigger and bigger numbers of participants as the project progressed.

At the last training, ABI noted an attendance of more than 100. When municipal officials of Bagulin were invited to observe these events, they were amazed. One was said to have remarked that when their community organizers went to the community to organize meetings on MLGU programs, they could hardly get together 20 participants.

HOW TO BUILD AND EMPOWERED COMMUNITY

When asked for the secret of their success, April would always insist that they couldn’t have organized a strong community organization if they had not fully integrated into community life. The ABI staff lived for weeks at a time in the community, and when not having DRRM trainings, learned to speak the language and assisted in economic activities.

The agricultural products of the barangay include vegetables, banana, rootcrops and tiger grass. Tiger grass is used to make the famous brooms of Northern Luzon urban center Baguio City. This is the major source of income of the Alibangsay and Cardiz communities, aside from the farm produce.

“We laughed the first time Madam April tried to sew together the buybuy into a broom,” Trisha told us, with an affectionate look at her team lead.

Farming activities became a major challenge for the team in scheduling activities, but since they lived in the community for weeks at a time, they can easily adjust to the availability of the participants. What they couldn’t predict and didn’t expect though was the delays and postponement resulting from the incessant Habagat rains of July and August 2018 and the onslaught of Typhoon Mangkhut (Ompong) in September.

Despite the setbacks in prototyping and testing schedules, the team was able to achieve project milestones. The best notable indicator of success involves the readiness of the team, with no fear of failure, to pivot from previous design features when needed, upon feedback from the community. In the beginning, it was thought okay to use Tagalog modules because for a long time, ABI had been using these anyway to teach DRRM. However, in the case of Igorot community instructors and Igorot trainees as target users of the modules, both told ABI that the latter had to be translated into common Ilocano. Meanwhile, the dry run and coaching sessions for community instructors before actual training were suggested by the instructors themselves, upon observing themselves becoming nervous or forgetting key topics. The training evaluation form, initially consisting of just simple emoticons, had to be changed. The community members felt they were too generic and abstract. They wanted a survey form that says in words what they felt about the training they received.

By the end of the project implementation in December 2018, the innovation team happily reported to the final review panel that overall feedback from the community was positive. Trisha was able to articulate herself very well during her powerpoint presentation, unassisted by either April and Kent, and Tatay Lestino not haltingly reading from a notebook as he did in previous reviews. “True community empowerment can be easily seen in the
confidence of both community instructors of Alibangsay and new DPC trainees of Brgy. Cardiz. They knew what they were talking about and were able to answer our questions, said DRR expert Ms. Edna Luna. When he was congratulated by the team after the presentation, Tatay Lestino just smiled shyly, a trademark of Igorot men. He stood tall. His eyes shone. They clearly answered Trisha’s question.