Challenges and Rewards in Helping Myanmar Communities Build Resilience

CWS Myanmar | November 28, 2018

A simulation exercise. Photo: CWS

In a part of Myanmar that is especially susceptible to natural disaster, primarily related to yearly monsoon rains and flooding, CWS has led Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) activities for several years with a focus on two townships initially, and now just one: Maubin Township in the Ayeyarwaddy region. In the past two years CWS has expanded CBDRR activities in 15 communities, where no other non-government or civil society groups are working with communities on this important issue, which affects everyone because everyone lives, and works, in the massive river delta.

First Aid training. Photo: CWS

Building on a successful 18-month pilot project in another part of the delta, Maubin villages are now in year one or two of disaster risk reduction and mitigation activities, which are led by community two community-chosen volunteers in each village. After being chosen by their neighbors and friends, and agreeing to take on the important coordinating role of a CBDRR leader, each volunteer joined a Training of Trainers program to learn the basics of modern day disaster risk reduction, plus First Aid and Early Warning and Search and Rescue protocols. They also learned about group management and activity facilitation, and they worked with CWS staff and other community members to form village Disaster Risk Management Committees that have three sub-committees each: Early Warning; First Aid and Search & Rescue.

Sub-committee formation was challenging, but quite rewarding, because it identified women and men who are interested to help face and learn to address problems that affect their communities. The volunteers said they could commit time and energy to learn how to be helpful, and they joined local firefighters, Myanmar Red Cross Society staff and government Department of Disaster Management workers for a series of training activities. After the volunteers finished their training, they started to share their learning with others in a series of activities about mapping hazards and resources to address them, and in disaster simulation exercises, among other activities. In sharing information – for example, key “Do’s and Don’ts” for disaster risk reduction and prevention; and in learning from many of their neighbors and community leaders, five Committees recently proposed mitigation project activities, which CWS will support, technically and materially, while communities make their contributions too.

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