Note: This is a part of a comprehensive step-by-step approach for creating a Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) program. Check out the main topic page, CBDRR Practitioners Guidelines, to learn more about the full guidelines.
An overall rationale for what we plan to do, why we are doing it, and what we want to achieve in communities and within the Red Cross Red Crescent generally over the longer-term – say 3 to 5 years or more.
The programme strategy is not a detailed programme plan, but rather pulls together the main findings of steps A to C in summary form, and guides the programme team forward through the next steps of the process. This summary should be aligned to the broader National Society strategy and its policies and should build on lessons learned, not only from its own experiences but also from its partners. The strategy should also be aligned with National DRR, DRM and climate change frameworks as well as important global frameworks such as Hyogo Framework for Action and the UN Framework for Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol).
What do I need to know?
Why is this important?
A programme strategy helps you logically think about the difference you would like to make through a CBDRR approach connected to and aligned with other National Society community-based efforts. Too often we develop individual, stand-alone projects, jumping from one community to the next, or one intervention to another without thinking through how this will make a longer-term difference. A programme strategy can act as a filter for new projects and opportunities as they come along and can help ensure resources are more efficiently allocated by focusing them on a longer-term goal.
Elements of a Programme Strategy
A written programme strategy could contain:
- Overall goal
- Key objectives
- Core interventions
- Programming Criteria (Steps A & C)
- Potential Partners (Step B)
- Capacity-building needed (Step E)
- Risks (Step E)
- Objective-level indicators
- Key evaluation questions
What are key questions to be answered in a programme strategy?
- What have we learned about implementing CBDRR or community-based programming? What has worked well and what hasn’t, and how can this be built in to the programme strategy?
- Based on the context assessment and potential needs, where are we likely to add greatest value (in a general sense, rather than in terms of specific interventions)?
- What do we want to achieve in CBDRR? Where do with we think we may implement the strategy? Who are the key partners we will work with? How do we think we will do it and what are some typical interventions we are considering?
- In terms of partners, which ones are we likely to need to build a relationship with, how will this be done and when?
- What is the community engagement, mobilisation or organisation approach to be followed? Will it have the desired results, and does the NS have the capacity in place to deliver it? Examples of approaches range from creating an RC DRR (or other type) group in the community, which has a direct relationship to the local branch, to working through an existing community group or helping to develop a new community based organisation that may be officially recognised, or remain informal. The right approach should be determined by a range of factors especially context and what is most likely to be continued in the community after the project finishes.
- How will you know when you have reached your goal? In general terms, how will the programme exit from both community and branch? What are some things that can be done to ensure certain activities and results are sustained after exit?
- How will gender issues and vulnerabilities be factored in to programming planning and design?
- Will the programme contribution strengthen the overall resilience of the communities and potentially neighbouring communities? This is a question to ask after the strategy it has been drafted.
What are some basic steps in developing a programme strategy?
- Review strategy and planning requirements of your organization to inform your programme strategy outline.
- Summarize the likely needs from the context assessment and available secondary data.
- Determine if there are any funding and donor parameters (but be guided by, rather than led by these; wider needs will likely exist which the NS can address and other resources might be secured to address them).
- In exploring funding and donor parameters be sure to educate the donors on the importance of long-term funding and flexible budgeting to help support longer term activities and sustainability rather than stopping after main activities conclude; flexible funding helps support innovations and new activities developed along the way that may not have been envisioned initially.
- Encourage reflection on earlier programmes of what has worked well, and what hasn’t and how learning can be applied to the new programme.
- Validate the community and branch selection criteria against the programme strategy rationale to the extent possible.
- Establish the next steps, particularly the needs identification process, how expectations will be managed, and how your NS will respond to the most serious needs.
- Brainstorm how success of the programme could be measured.
- Document the above in a draft document, ideally with a template used for all of your National Society’s programmes.
What are some success factors or key determinants?
Branch and community selection criteria should be justified by both needs and capacity; the selection process should be transparent.
Include how the programme will identify and meet needs, and community priorities; describe the types of change or results you want to achieve, in general terms, e.g. increased knowledge of and change in behaviour towards locally identified risks.
Ensure alignment to your organization’s overall strategy; also indicate how this CBDRR programme will help improve the National Society and move it closer to its stated goals.
Ensure that both programme team and NS leadership are involved in decision making processes.
Discuss how other critical needs may be addressed if they fall outside of the programme criteria or NS capacity – i.e. will there be an advocacy or partnership component?
Is the scale of programme ambition likely to be matched by available funding – will there need to be a scale down of activity or coverage? Is there a need to secure new funding? More detailed assessments later in the process will help to answer this question and set a budget, but it is important to go in with a clear idea of realistic/potential operational parameters.
Consider how easily the programme could be scaled-up or replicated? Is it too complex? Are there ways to simplify it without compromising quality?
Be realistic. If it is a post disaster context, how will the new programme be realistically absorbed into the overall strategy of the NS; consider the possible implications this programme will have on existing work, both positive and negative.
What are some useful tools and methodologies?
- IFRC Project/Programme planning learning, online course and downloadable PDF
- IFRC and other capacity assessment tools: OCAC, adapted Well Performing National Society version
- IFRC Better Be Ready/Better Be Prepared documents
- IFRC Characteristics of a Resilient Community (Tsunami DRR study)
- UK National Risk Register for Civil Emergencies
Uganda RC Review of Reviews – critical reflection on historic programming to inform new programme development and organisational development priorities.
- Preparing for disaster: A community-based approach - Philippines ICDPP has guidance on process of community identification, mobilisation, organisation etc.
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