Community based disaster risk reduction in Sri Lanka: A compendium of good practices | Disaster Risk Reduction

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The compendium presents good practices of the community based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) approach implemented under a Disaster Preparedness project in the North and East of Sri Lanka, supported by the Disaster Preparedness ECHO (DIPECHO). Learning drawn from the project can be replicated and built into future interventions. The compendium also highlights the post-conflict scenario, and how CBDRR approach can be a gateway to strengthen women
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  OXFAM CASE STUDY JUNE 2013 www.oxfam.org  Women brick makers in Paramankirai Village in Kilinochchi District, Sri LankaPhoto credit: Sangeetha Sundaralingum/Oxfam COMMUNITY BASED DISASTER RISK REDUCTION IN SRI LANKA  A Compendium of Good Practices The compendium presents good practices of the community based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) approach implemented under a Disaster Preparedness project in the North and East of Sri Lanka, supported by the Disaster Preparedness ECHO (DIPECHO). Learning drawn from the project can be replicated and built into future interventions. The compen-dium also highlights the post-conflict scenario, and how CBDRR approach can be a gateway to strengthen women’s leadership, gover  n-ance, sustainable livelihood and agricultural practices.  2 1 INTRODUCTION The geographical location of Sri Lanka makes it prone to several natural disasters, particularly drought, flood, landslide, cyclone and tsunami. The recent history of armed conflict in Sri Lanka left people in the North and East of Sri Lanka even more vulnerable to natural disasters, due to the displacement. Resilient livelihoods, food security and other basic needs such as safe drinking water and sanitation are the key concerns among the majority of the returnees who are re-building their lives, particularly women headed families, widows, people with disabilities, poor and small-scale farmers. Oxfam GB and Practical Action implemented a Community based Disas-ter Risk Reduction project supported by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (DIPECHO) in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, working directly with returnee communities that remain highly vulnerable to natural disasters, as well as with disaster risk reduction institutions at the community, sub-district and district levels. The project adopted a multi prong approach to mainstream disaster risk reduction into early recovery initiatives to ensure food security and in-creased livelihood protection of the disaster prone communities in Kili-nochchi and Mannar districts in Northern Province and Batticaloa district in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka.    An inclusive community based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) approach was adopted to ensure that the action plan address the needs of every-one especially vulnerable groups. By promoting leadership of women, people with disabilities, children and elderly as partners in disaster risk reduction: mobilising the communities, engaging communities in doing local risk assessment and developing their action plans, these leaders are recognised as change agents who help bridging the gaps between vulnerable communities and governance structure, making their voice heard among local government and authorities. The case studies in this compendium showcase good practices of these approaches which can be built into future intervention as well as used to build capacity of partners and local Disaster Risk Management stake-holders in order to harmonise and replicate the Community Based Disas-ter Risk Management (CBDRM) framework in Sri Lanka. The compen-dium also highlights the post-conflict scenario, and how CBDRR ap- proach can be a gateway to strengthen women’s leadership, governance, sustainable livelihood and agricultural practices.   3 2 REPLICATING COMMUNITY BASED DISASTER PREPAREDNESS MODEL  AT LOCAL LEVEL Lafir Mohamed (green shirt), DIPECHO Project Coordinator from Practical Ac- tion is working alongside DDMU’s staff. Photo credit  : Disaster Management Center, Mannar, Sri Lanka  Sri Lanka is prone to several natural disasters, particularly drought, flood, landslide, cyclone and tsunami. The 2004 Asian Tsunami was the worst natural disaster in Sri Lankan history, causing 35,000 deaths and exten-sive damage and loss, affecting millions of people. It also has a recent history of armed conflict, causing large-scale loss and multiple displacements for the civilian population. With the end of the civil war in 2009 more than 350,000 people became internally displaced from the North and East of the country. The subsequent resettlement and re-covery process was only coming to a close recently. The conflict may be over but the risk posed by natural disasters remains, particularly in the North and E ast where people’s levels of vulnerability is also significantly higher due to the displacement. The Ministry of Disaster Management and the Disaster Management Centre were established in early 2005 (post-tsunami) and a road map for a safer Sri Lanka was developed to guide the disaster preparedness planning and implementation process in the country. Disaster risk reduc-tion institutions were established at the district, sub-district and commu-nity levels to implement the road map.  4 However, both the technical and leadership capacity of the district level Disaster Management Unit (DDMU) has always been a concern through-out the country, particularly in the North and East. This challenge has created a vacuum where the coordination and communication with stakeholders at district, sub-district and community levels remains low, resulting in low levels of engagement in disaster preparedness activities. To support the DDMU in Mannar district, and to strengthen their disaster risk reduction (DRR) capacity, Oxfam GB and Practical Action adopted a Coaching Methodology  , which is a more active and thereby more effec-tive strategy than the conventional skills transfer mechanism such as training and workshops. With this approach, Practical Action ’s field staff work alongside DDMU staff at the DDMU office in Mannar, participating in monthly planning meetings and involving themselves in activity implementations. No formal training but daily briefing on the DIPECHO programme was given to the DDMU staff. Through constant support and encouragement from Practical Action staff, DDMU gradually increased their engagement in the programme and built their confidence to lead DRR processes while learning to implement them. The methodology helped bridge the gap between Practical Action ’s  and DDMU ’s staff  , strengthen relationships and created a better mutual un- derstanding of each other’s DRR mandate. It created a more thorough and deeper understanding among DDMU staff on DRR process, rather than focusing only on the outputs. Finally and most importantly, the coaching methodology allowed the DDMU to coordinate and harmonise DRR initiatives and to advocate for the replication of the Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) model within the district. Practical Action works in two out of five divisions (sub-districts) in Mannar district. With the experience gained through coaching, the DDMU de-cided to work in three other divisions as well. To do this, they identified organisations working on DRR in these areas and facilitated a consulta-tive process to implement the CBDRR model in parallel to DIPECHO pro- ject. The DDMU is now working independently in these two divisions imple-menting the DRR process and model that they learned through DIPECHO. They have developed a plan for ‘100 Days of Action’ , which is a common work plan for the entire district and a basis for continuing the CBDRR model in Mannar, using the CBDRR methodology and tools to reach out to all communities. They also influenced the district adminis-trative authority (District Secretariat) to issue a request that all the DRR stakeholders should work in consultation with them. This enabled the DDMU to replicate the CBDRR model with these other stakeholders and ensure a more standardised DRR methodology. The DDMU has now incorporated the CBDRR process into their annual planning and budgeting cycle, building upon the momentum which has already started. The budget and human resources available for the DDMU for implementing CBDRR may not be as intensive as in DIPECHO, but it is certainly good enough to start the process and repli-cate the methodologies in an affordable manner.
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