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Featured Member: Interview with Jesusa Grace Molina - CDP (Center for disaster preparedness)

Jesusa Grace Molina

Programme Coordinator at the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) in the Philippines, Jesusa Grace Molina is one force to reckon with. She has been coordinating GNDR's VFL Pilot in the country as well as leading CDP's Technical Services Programme.  

Interview by Nisma Le Boul| London, August 8th

1. What does your organisation do?

The Center for disaster preparedness (CDP)  is a national non-government organization in the Philippines that strongly promotes community-based disaster risk reduction and management (CBDRRM) through its core programs, namely Technical Services and Community Services. Specifically, CDP is involved in the conduct of trainings and capacity development activities, research, knowledge exchange and management, networking and advocacy, and emergency response. It actively works with manifold stakeholders from the communities, civil society organizations, governments, private companies, and academics. At the community level, CDP closely works with vulnerable sectors such as women, children and youth, persons with disabilities, and older persons. Utilizing the CBDRM framework, CDP is driven by inclusive and participatory principles and approaches in doing development work.
Given its strong commitment to promoting resilience in the country, CDP is currently the lead convenor of the Disaster Risk Reduction Network Philippines (DRRNet Phils), an alliance of CSOs, communities, and practitioners, adhering to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) and implementing CBDRRM.

At the international level, CDP is also an active player and advocate in the field of DRRM. CDP engages with other actors through its membership to various networks such as the Global Network of Civil Society Organizations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR), Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN), Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP), and Network of Empowered Aid Response (NEAR). Through its engagement in the capacity building, knowledge exchange, and advocacy activities of these networks, CDP is provided with an enabling environment to harness its expertise and better deliver its services towards achieving safer and resilient communities.

2. How would you describe its role as part of civil-society?

As the lead convenor of DRRNet Phils, CDP plays a very significant role in getting CSOs from various regions of the country to work together in putting forward a DRRM agenda that is inclusive and people-centered. It works with community-based organisations, local and international non-government organisations, faith-based groups, and academics to influence and capacitate them in vulnerability reduction and resilience building at all levels.

At present, CDP through DRRNet Phils, is leading advocacy efforts at the national level to put forward the establishment of an independent DRRM agency in the country. Such effort is deemed necessary to have a stronger mechanism not only for response but also to create a more enabling environment to address the underlying causes of disaster risks. To succeed in this advocacy work, CDP, along with the other network members, continuously engages with the CSO community and other stakeholders to increase their awareness on the issues of the amendatory bill and to gather their support for its passage. It is also very active in building relationships with policy makers from the Congress and Senate who can be allies in pushing for the legislative amendment of the existing Philippine DRRM law.

As one of the national coordinating organizations for the Views from the Frontline pilot, CDP is also working closely with civil society organizations across the country to monitor the status of implementation of post-2015 frameworks focusing on inclusive risk governance.

3. What is your role, what does it entail?

I am currently serving as the Coordinator for CDP’s Technical Services Programme (TSP). As the TSP Coordinator, I am responsible for the overall direction, coordination, and management of the daily operations of the program. I am tasked to ensure that all program engagements such as training, research, and advocacy are aligned and contribute to the achievement of organizational goals and targets.

Furthermore, I also serve as the VFL Pilot Project Coordinator for Philippines. As such, I closely work with different civil society organisations all over the country to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of the project in 10 communities. Specifically, I was involved in the collection of risk maps; coordination with the National Advisory Committee members; selection of risk areas; training of partner organizations and enumerators; data encoding and analysis; as well as conducting community and national level multi-stakeholder workshops.

4. When did your organisation join GNDR?

The Center for Disaster Preparedness joined GNDR in 2009. At that time, CDP was already involved in the implementation of Views from the Frontline 2009 to monitor the progress of the implementation of Hyogo Framework for Action on the ground.

5. Why did your organisation join GNDR?

CDP joined GNDR to pursue greater opportunities in doing advocacy work. Specifically, CDP sees its membership to the network as a platform to advance the institution’s transformative agenda for the most vulnerable groups. This was very evident in the implementation of VFL beginning 2009 which provided a venue for local voices to be heard in relation to the progress of HFA priorities and now SFDRR on the ground.

6. Could you share 3 benefits for CDP of being a GNDR member

• The engagement of CDP in the Views from the Frontline/ Frontline programmes since 2009 provided an opportunity to widen its network and reach to strengthen its advocacy of promoting a multi-sectoral and inclusive approach in DRRM.
• The participation of CDP in the different events organized by GNDR at the regional and global levels provided opportunities to learn new concepts and trends in DRRM and served as a platform for sharing good practices among various stakeholders around the world.
• Being a GNDR member also provided an opportunity to scale up its good practices and continuously think of ways to innovate and improve its existing DRRM strategies and approaches.

7. Name one area of improvement for GNDR

GNDR needs to enhance its strategies to consolidate its members at the country and regionals levels. The role of the Regional Development Coordinators and National Focal Points is very crucial in order to do this.

8. What do you think are your biggest achievements as an organisation?

I think the biggest achievements of CDP as an organization working in DRR are the following:
• CDP was among the active civil society organizations that carried out strong advocacy efforts to pass the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act in 2010, also known as Republic Act 10121, which transformed the reactive disaster management system of the national government into a more proactive one. The law paved the way to have a stronger DRRM structure, strategies, and funding at the regional, provincial, city/municipal and barangay levels.
• From 2012 to 2018, CDP was appointed as one of the four civil society representatives in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the focal agency for overseeing and coordinating DRRM affairs in the Philippines, from 2012 to 2018. It served as the voice of civil society and brought forward a pro-people and participatory DRRM framework at the national level.
• Given that CDP is mainly driven by a community-based DRRM approach, it has been consistent in working with and for the most vulnerable groups who are the “frontliners” during disaster situations. It continuously seeks ways to bridge the gap between duty-bears and rights-holders through encouraging them to collaborate and work in harmony towards safe, development and sustainable future.

9. Has your organisation received any awards?

CDP was awarded Best Performing Non-Government Organisation in Region 1 in 2008 under the Gawad Kalasag, the Philippine’s premier annual recognition given by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to outstanding individuals and institutions in appreciation of their exemplary contribution and good practices in the field of disaster risk reduction and management and humanitarian assistance

10. What should GNDR do to sustain or increase members’ engagement or participation?

GNDR should provide regular and sustainable opportunities to engage its members in collaborative action, knowledge sharing, and unified advocacy work in the field of DRRM. The Regional Development Coordinators and National Focal Points should work closely and identify strategies to encourage the active participation of the members. I also think that setting up effective monitoring mechanisms would help in keeping track and sustaining the engagement of the members.

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