In order to test the theory and methodology of AFL, GNDR started a pilot study in 13 countries across the world which ran from June 2013 to January 2014.
Of the network members that applied to participate in the pilot, the following countries and organisations were chosen to represent as broad a range as possible in terms of context of the participating communities and geographical coverage:
- Burundi: Disaster Reduction Youth Strategy; Association pour la Protection de l’Environnement et la Promotion du développement (APED); Réseau Burundi 2000+ working in Buterere and Muyinga
- Cameroon: GEADIR working in Limbe
- Chile: ACHNU working with Municipalidad de Tirúa and Asociación Indígena Identidad Lafkenche in the Municipality of Tirúa
- Georgia: Oxfam UK in South Caucasus with Black Sea Eco Academy in Adjara
- Haiti: Action Secours Ambulance; APCE 11 working in Gonaives and Ennergy
- Orissa, India : Orissa State Volunteers and Social Workers Association working in Daspalla block and Glop Block
- Indonesia : Yakkum Emergency Unit; KMSB; JARI working in Blawong and Gempol communities
- Jordan : Land and Human to Advocate Progress (LHAP) working in Wadi Ma'in
- Pakistan: Pattan Development Organisation working in Multan, Muzaffargarh and D G Khan
- Senegal: Shalom International, Compassions sans Frontieres working in Sare and Kemo, Cassamance
- SriLanka: Janathakshan; Rural Centre for Development working in Kotawehera and Eravur
- Togo: JVE; Jeunes Verts; APAD International working in Ganavé and Kratchi
- Uruguay: Amigos del Viento working in Agrupamiento Mburucuya/ San Jacinto
Learning from the pilot
The pilot was reviewed and evaluated by a small group of AFL advisors in Amman, Jordan, in January 2014. It looked at strategies on how CSOs and communities have started to tackle the risks and threats they face and at the overall coordination and facilitation of AFL.
Strategies how communities and CSOs try to reduce risks
The pilot showed the various strategies that CSOs follow to reduce the risks of local communities:
- Risk assessments
- Awareness of National DR policies, human and democratic rights
- Reflection on beliefs, traditions (‘caused by God’, feudal system)
- Technical and economic solutions (e.g. building bridges)
- Rights-based approaches and dialogue (e.g. indigenous rights)
- Holding governments accountable (advocacy and campaigning)
- Good Disaster Risk Management governance (e.g. working with local government and other policy makers)
Building community capacity
- Empower local leadership
Reflection on methodology
Reflection necessary for good learning
Learning needs a stimulus which can either come from the outside or be triggered by events within a setting. Not all acquiring of knowledge leads to change but needs to be reinforced by changed behaviour and or an emotional/ attitudinal change. Learning can also be practical i.e. learning a specific skill.
Most learning comes through reflection. But not all learning is beneficial (e.g. propaganda of people against supposedly harmful polio vaccine in Pakistan). For beneficial and long-term learning, tools for reflection need to be used which help people to learn from their observations and actions. Reflective exercises encourage critical questioning and thinking, questioning of information, systems, events and politics. For this to happen within a community, it often requires someone who acts as a catalyst.
The role of the CSO: facilitate process of reflection
The role of the CSO in the AFL process is to be a catalyst and provide an outside stimulus for reflection and learning, as well as a power balance to the powers within a community. Catalysts are not experts! Within the local community context they are outsiders and therefore learners from the locals. The CSO’s facilitation task includes building bridges to decision makers, enable people to work together and link the community to other stakeholders within and outside the community. In the working relationship between CSO and community trust is a vital ingredient and can be made explicit by clear rules of working together.
Local change agents
For local communities to take charge of their own processes, it needs inspired and committed leaders from within their community. These are often not the elected/ traditional leaders but people who are accepted within their community but also open to new ideas, sometimes called ‘early adopters’. The CSOs role is to identify these local change agents or early adopters and then train and support them so that they can be the constant presence in the community and mobilize them for action.
What are the benefits for the community?
The benefits of AFL for the community are likely to not be at the short-term but need a longer-term focus. This can be very difficult as short-term benefits and actions can be very appealing to communities in desperate need. As short-term benefits can break the process of AFL, it may be necessary to clearly differentiate between immediate need and a longer term strategic interest.
The long-term benefits of AFL are:
- Tangible actions to address everyday risks
- Tools to create dialogue with local and national government
- Relationships with strategic stakeholders
- Connection with communities in similar situations
An example of the long-term benefit would be the experience of one community that produced a risk map and a subsequent action plan which included the lobbying of government for budget allocation in their area to tackle risks that have been identified as priorities by the community.
For more information, please read the full report on the evaluation and planning workshop in Amman, Jordan, in January 2014.