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.
This step outlines the initiation of action of the National Society with specific communities. It also includes awareness-raising with the local communities, local government and other local stakeholders.
At this point in the process the user has completed a general programme strategy which could include an overall goal, key objectives, some measures of success, some programming principles such as beneficiary accountability, identified key interventions, some ideas where the programme may be implemented and key partners willing to support risk reduction. Now the team should be ready to develop a more detailed programme document e.g. a project design, specific activities along with an implementation schedule, a logframe etc.
Note that the programme design will continue as the project design starts up. Some NS will have an overall programme design based on the strategy and numerous projects across communities. The programme and project design follow similar steps but are at different levels; in general the project design is done at the community level following the VCA process and is community-led. The programme design informs the community selection and project design and in some regards is the umbrella under which all of the projects sit. What specifically is developed will depend on the planning requirements of his or her National Society.
What do I need to know?
Why is this important?
A quality CBDRR programme should lead to the empowerment of communities and this requires a high level of community motivation and commitment. It should also legitimise the programme in the eyes of local leaders and other key influencers, including local government. Working with communities is a long- term process and it takes effort to develop lasting and meaningful relationships.
What are key questions in preparing for community entry?
- What are the right entry points for each community? For example, who already has or should have responsibility for responding to disasters? Who is respected and can guide the NS in this process? Who has skills and relationships that would be useful in times of disaster?
- Who are the formal and informal leaders? What is their likely role in times of disaster and are they likely to have any reasons to be supportive or against a CBDRR initiative? How representative, capable and motivated are the leaders?
- Do they understand the programme and its value to their community?
- What are the local needs, problems, priorities?
- What is already known about this community?
- Which local government representatives need to be consulted at this stage, and what policies should the NS need to be aware of? This should be guided by the results from Steps A-D.
- Is there sufficient interest and willingness within the community to proceed?
What are some basic steps in entering communities?
The way we are going to work with the community should be clarified through the programme strategy (step D) and be based upon the approach that is most appropriate in the local context to build sustainable safety and resilience. Context and stakeholder analysis from steps A-D will also inform the approach taken. Some of the key steps in entering communities are similar to the programme strategy but are focused on each community. These include:
- Analysis of stakeholders.
- Context analysis.
- Build up knowledge of the community structure, dynamics and trusted entry points; talk to NGOs and others with experience in these communities.
- Reflect on experience in the past of working with these communities i.e. what has worked well, what hasn’t and what would you do differently in the future?
- Form a start-up team with experienced community workers from the NS, identified from the community, who could assist in getting the process going.
- Hold meetings with leaders, local government and other key local ‘influencers’; hold follow-up meetings to validate or triangulate findings from the first meetings.
What are some success factors or key determinants?
- Flexibility – that is, being open to what you are initially hearing from the community and key stakeholders.
- Time and patience. Meaningful community work takes time – always more than is anticipated. It is important to be patient and take the time needed to work with the community. Build in additional time to the overall timeline and the overall budget to help ensure a quality process.
- Identify the right entry points e.g. the most obvious community leaders are not always the most influential.
- Identify and define the right skills for this process; it is important to have people with the right skills to approach and work with communities. Human resource units may be able to help with this.
- Identify which type of group formation approach will be taken. The type of approach should be formulated at NS national level, but based on input from local branches who should know their communities best.
- As with other steps, it is useful to prepare ‘question’ and ‘answer’ scripts in advance which can guide volunteers and staff on how to deal with likely questions raised by the community leaders and community entry points. This is also a good way of thinking through how expectations will be managed, and identify any possible risks in advance.
- Consider Fundamental Principles at all times; for example, will any action taken impact the impartiality or neutrality of the NS?
- At the end of the meeting with leaders, practitioners should have a better understanding of the community structure and dynamics; reflect on the programme approach and see what may need to be reconsidered – at least for that specific community.
What are some useful tools and methodologies?
- ERU Volunteer Selection Tools
- Preparing for disaster: A community based approach (Philipines RC: ICDPP)
- IFRC CBHFA toolkits
- IFRC malaria toolkits
Get the latest videos and photos, case studies, and training materials contributed by practitioners from around the globe. Visit our Resource Library for more.