Thailand: Communities taking action – Community-based disaster risk reduction training runs its 22nd course
Bangkok – Having accurate knowledge of the opportunities and constraints for disaster preparedness often makes local communities the best equipped to act on disaster risk reduction issues. This topic was thoroughly dealt with during ADPC´s 22nd Regional Learning Workshop on Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction with a Changing Climate (CBDRR).
The annually organized workshop gathered people from 14 different countries in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
“I learned a lot of new things about practical tools for disaster risk reduction such as hazard mapping and capacity matrixes. Hearing experiences from other participants was particularly useful”, says Mr. Jaap Vuijk, Disaster Risk Reduction Program Manager for Operation Mercy, Afghanistan.
A field visit to Bang Rakam district, Nakornpathom province in the central part of Thailand, provided the participants with an opportunity to put their newly learned disaster assessment tools into practice.
“With community representatives, we tried to find out what is the most devastating natural hazard in the area, when and how often it occurs and what is the scope of its impacts. It was really nice to be able to use the tools learned in a workshop setting within a real community”, Vuijk states.
Bringing early warning systems to Pakistan
Humanitarian Affairs Officer Mr. Kamran Shariff from UN OCHA participated in ADPC´s workshop for the second time. In his disaster-prone home country, Pakistan, he is involved in developing the disaster preparedness capabilities of particularly vulnerable communities. What worries Shariff the most about the situation in Pakistan is the lack of early warning systems, which was a key topic of ADPC´s workshop this year.
“I work a lot with capacity building in Pakistan and ADPC´s trainings give a good aggregate overview on the basic concepts and policies. They also give a very good regional perspective on how the various practices and policies have been implemented in the South and Southeast Asian region in particular“, he states.
In Pakistan, Shariff has contributed widely in disaster preparedness; especially in contingency planning and convening multi-hazards simulation exercises, mostly in the regions that are prone to monsoons.
“Over the last year, perspectives on vulnerable communities with respect to early warning and life-saving responses have been highlighted. Our aim is to facilitate the inclusion of the communities’ concerns in government responses and to sensitize government stakeholders and first responders to flood prone communities' vulnerabilities”, Shariff states.
“This is a very interesting field and the humanitarian responses – whether it's the government, army, OCHA, UNICEF or someone else who is doing it – are all supposed to respond to the needs of the communities.”
Church acting for disaster risk reduction
In the Philippines, the Church has a central role in providing disaster relief – the country is repeatedly ravaged by typhoons, flooding, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. In 2012, Manila’s Quiapo Church established a Ministry for Disaster Risk Reduction to promote disaster preparedness. The church is refocusing its aims from disaster relief, to disaster preparedness to lower impacts caused by natural hazards.
“Attending ADPC’s course last year gave me an overview of the need for Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to assess the community and map its hazards, vulnerabilities and capabilities. We wanted to pilot this kind of a strategy using the tools of GIS for preparedness in our Church”, says course participant, Parish Priest and Rector Msgr. Jose Clemente F. Ignacio from the Quiapo Church Ministry on Disaster Risk Reduction.
“We wanted to move our efforts from relief, rehabilitation and recovery towards preparedness, and encourage other churches in the Philippines to consider the need for it as well. Efforts must go beyond preparedness for recovery and rescue to preparing the community to have the capacity to face up to possible disasters”, Ignacio states.