|Guide to Developing Training Strategies (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 55 p.)|
Disaster Management Workshop Philippines Experience
The following case study is the edited version of the document written by Mrs. Milagros I Llaness, Director of Bureau of Emergency Assistance, DSWD, Philippines, according to the structure provided by the Disaster Management Centre, Oxford Polytechnic.
The imperative of institutionalizing disaster education supported by research in the Philippines has been recognised since the 1970s. In 1984, the country hosted an International Conference on the survival of mankind, the Philippine Experience, to discuss and present to the international community the degree to which the country is prone to natural hazards.
Case studies were presented and discussed at this conference, and the advice of experts was sought on appropriate strategies to counteract and minimize the adverse effects of these natural and man-made hazards. Immediately thereafter PAGASA submitted a proposal to UNDRO for the establishment of the National Disaster Training and Research Centre. UNDRO sent an expert to the Philippines to discuss the feasibility of the project and the recommendation was positive. The project remains in the pipeline to this date, due to some technical problems about which agency would handle it According to law, this project should be the responsibility of the Secretariat of the National Disaster Coordination Council, whose Executive Officer is the Administrator of the Civil Defence. However, he feels that the government cannot afford to set up the project unless external support can be generated, which would involve a commitment of approximately $20M.
Due to its geographical location and topographical condition, the Philippines continue to be plagued by typhoons, floods, storm surges, volcanic eruption, earthquakes, fires, and man-made hazards. After 1987, which was a year of disastrous typhoons, the British Embassy and British Council in the Philippines offered to help the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) in streamlining its disaster preparedness program, After two meetings with the First Secretary of the British Embassy and after the DSWD project proposal was submitted to the British Council, two external consultants came to the Philippines to provide technical consultation and support in the organization of a national workshop.
During the planning and organization of the workshop, the issue was raised again of agency function and responsibility, the major concern being to strengthen the Philippine Disaster Control capability and establish the Community Disaster Preparedness Program. The NDCC Inter Agency Planning Committee was organised, chaired by the DSWD. There was some dispute over the question of leadership, and the DSWD justified having a lead role because of its responsibilities for the following:
1. handling relief assistance: DSWD needs trained volunteers to supplement their limited manpower and to enable them to cope with the magnitude of disaster operation;
2. engaging in a public awareness program for natural and man-made hazards. This is to enable the community to become self-reliant in coping with the effects of hazards and disasters.
3. strengthening the organisation and operation of the local disaster coordinating councils. This is the structure and network for the implementation of emergency assistance.
The assistance of UNICEF and USAID was also sought to provide additional funds for board and lodging, transport, supplies, documentation, etc. Thus on March 4-18 1988, the First National Disaster Management Workshop was held, After the national workshop, three echo regional workshops in Regions IV, V and VIII were held in the same year, funded by DSWD with the assistance of UNICEF.
With the strong commitment of the Secretary of the DSWD to carry on the project to support the goal of the NDCC in strengthening disaster management, a project proposal was submitted to UNDP. This suggested that the project should start in 1989, cover a period of three years and include one national and four regional echo workshops. Due to inadequate funds, UNDP approved the project for a period of two years only.
II. Insights gained from the Workshop:
The importance and value of pre-planning in any activity, especially in training, can hardly be over-emphasized. It is necessary to provide a general framework for the training as well as a guide for the resource persons to follow in terms of objectives, activities, schedules, resources and procedures.
However, plans have to be flexible and have to provide for possible disruptions, for example, the last minute unavailability or substitution of consultants, participants, training staff or key officials.
B. Selection of Participants
The criteria developed in the selection of participants were quite broad in terms of their-areas of responsibility, such as the extent of their involvement in disaster management, policy formulation, implementation or evaluation of disaster programs and projects. Factors under consideration in selection included participants age, their commitment to the program and their potential to carry on the workshop on the agency or implementation level.
The committee opted for a comprehensive criteria because it observed that the program was weak in terms of policies, implementation and evaluation. The idea was to create an orchestrated effect on the key agencies directly involved in disaster management, This goal was realized, However, the disadvantage of having a heterogeneous group is that it is quite difficult for members to express their views, due to different levels of experience in disaster management, levels of responsibility, educational backgrounds and attitudes.
Each year, the inter-agency planning committee reviews the criteria and selection of participants to ensure the attainment of the goals of the workshop. During the first year, participants were disaster managers and mostly technical people from key agencies. The result was increased coordination amongst national line departments and amongst NGOs on technical matters. Through informal contacts it is possible to achieve the immediate release of calamity funds or the endorsement of project proposals to multilateral donors. Most of the training staff and resource persons in the regional echo workshop were graduates of the first workshop.
The participants therefore do not have to be a homogenous group. What is important is their interest, belief and commitment to the program. Numbers should range from 25 to 30 to get maximum benefit from the workshop.
C. Selection of Resource Persons
As a new project, I believe a crucial feature of the Disaster Management Workshop was the participation of external consultants and resource persons who were experts in the field and who had established a name both in the Regional and International community. This lent prestige to the activity. Moreover, participants were of the consensus that they learned much from the external consultants because of their rich theoretical input and varied experiences of other countries which can be applied to the Philippines.
Since session topics are both technical and issue related, local resource persons were selected on the basis of their line of specialization to present and discuss local situations and experiences. This acted as a balance to the input of external consultants. However, experience has shown that not all technical persons are gifted with the art of communication, and pressure of work sometimes causes them to be unable to prepare material adequately.
Since the resource persons are evaluated by the participants, it is possible to replace resource persons who achieve a below-average rating. In addition, we plan to schedule a discussion with the resource persons about the content of their paper, the methodology of presentation and time duration.
The program should be attuned to the situation in the Philippines, responding to the needs of the country with an emphasis on the direct relationship of disasters to the total development effort of government The aim is to attain self-reliance in disaster management at the local level after making the local officials and the people aware of the hazards and vulnerabilities prevailing in their area,
It has not been possible to achieve the attendance of two vital sectors of the community: members of the media and local executives. They find the two-week duration too long, and therefore we are considering integrating in the two week workshop a 1 1/2 day orientation for this group towards the middle or end of the workshop. We particularly want them to participate in the policy forum, Other alternatives include integrating their orientation in the regional echo workshop or, given adequate funds, the orientation could be scheduled separately.
While it might be good to adopt a macro approach, this might not be relevant to the needs of participants recently exposed to the concept of disaster management of national character. Positive steps in that direction should be made after a thorough evaluation of next years program, where we will get feedback from the graduates of the four workshops. An evaluation process is planned in the future.
The present format of the workshop is weighted towards imparting knowledge rather than emphasising skills and exposure to actual experience.
There is a need to review the syllabus and provide a balanced experience for the participants. Since it is of a very short duration, it is important to prioritize the topics for the participants to get maximum benefit from the workshop.
Because of promotion the original staff identified with the program are replaced by new ones, who need exposure and training to feel confident in their roles and responsibilities. They lack self-confidence about presenting their views and need to ask clarification or guidance from external consultants on certain matters.
G. Plans for Succeeding Workshops
The main concern now on the part of the Philippine government is how to institutionalize the program after the termination of UNDP support, The Philippine government is still suffering from economic difficulties due to heavy debt payment - a commitment which represents about 40% of the total annual income of government.
Apart from the UNDP support, it is important to explore the possibility of assistance from UNICEF, USAID, The British Council, ADAB, UNDP and other multilateral donors for another three years in connection with the observance of the decade of IDNDR. These organizations could either singly or collectively support the program, and advice can be sought from consultants as to how to present this proposal to the multilateral donors on a single or joint venture.
It is hoped to actively involve the Development Academy of the Philippines, an institution we hope may continue to carry on the training as a regular activity of government Due to the elective nature of local executives positions, every four to six years there will be newcomers who need to be trained again. It is important that this training should be institutionalized, due to this regular necessity to train staff at various operational levels - national, regional, provincial, municipal and village level.
There is a need to review and realign the courses on the national level to make them relevant to the needs and expectations of the participants. Most of people selected to attend the central course are disaster managers who are expected to conduct echo workshops on the regional level. As a result of this, the topics should be weighted towards management planning and organization, with equal stress on mitigation, preparedness and response. Topics should be included on how to conduct workshops, the importance of communications and there should be an opportunity to see actual projects once a week. It is essential to institutionalize the basic principles and concepts of disaster management.
Meanwhile with the recommendation of the participants of the third national workshop to institutionalize disaster education in the country, the national disaster co-ordinating council has agreed to undertake the following:
· to integrate disaster management modules in the existing training carried out by various line departments and NGOs
· to include disaster management as a subject in the tertiary level, especially in disaster related courses, for example, engineering, architecture, agriculture, forestry and human ecology, social work, community development and public health and administration
The monitoring system to ensure that the line departments concerned carry out their commitments is a crucial aspect of this agreement
The DSWD is keen on pursuing the evaluation of their workshops, both regional and national, and the national consultant is helping the DSWD develop a two part method of evaluation:
1) an interview questionnaire for the graduates of the workshop
2) an assessment of effectiveness and efficiency of disaster management in badly hit areas where there are trained disaster managers
V. Training Manual
Currently, a training manual is being prepared by the national consultant as a guide for the graduates of the national workshops to conduct the echo regional workshop. It has been observed in past echo workshops that graduates at the national level experienced difficulties in handling the activity due to lack of guidance. Thus, the Bureau of Emergency Assistance provides the content, while the DAP staff develop the process and methodology of the training manual, An orientation on the use of the training materials and the use of the training manual are also planned.