Community learning centers and community-based learning programs play significant role in shaping local development initiatives in the Philippines in the frame of sustainable development. Overtime, community learning centers have expanded and evolved from a venue for learning to becoming a community hub for local development initiatives to take place.
The range of CLC initiatives in the Philippines either government supported orCSO/NGO led covers a very broad themes from basic literacy, alternative learning,skills training, good governance, human rights, environment, climate change and disasters.
This article highlights PILCD’s experience in mainstreaming inclusion in its community-based disaster risk reduction education and training program. The project illustrates a concrete experience in promoting inclusion and sustainable development – two key elements articulated by SDG 4.
The Philippines is one ofthe most disaster prone countries in the world. An average of 20 typhoons annually visit the country. In 2013, it was struck by a very powerful typhoon that made landfall in the central part of the country and brought catastrophic damages.
The countries geographical location along the typhoon belt and the pacific ring combined with the poor social economic conditions in remote communities is a major factor of vulnerability.
It was in this context that PILCD’s DRR education took shape in 2009 and had evolved and expanded – from post-emergency response to school and community-based disaster risk reduction education and training projects primarily in the northern part of the Philippines. These projects typically involved training of community members and local authorities to training of teachers and development of local trainers.
It was in 2015 when disability inclusion in its DRR education programming took shape.
This was initiated in the cities of Calbayog and Catbalogan in Samar thru the project on Strengthening Disability Inclusive Community Participation in Disaster Preparedness and Response supported by Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB) and Aktion Deutchsland Hilft (ADH).
The program directly involved persons with disabilities in the trainings and activities on community-based disaster risk reduction and management.
Training of Trainers on community-based disaster risk reduction, facilitation of community-based workshops are the core strategy of the project. Alongside is the training and capacity building of persons with disabilities to effectively engage and participate in local governance process.
One major output the project is the development of trainers and educators on disaster risk reduction from persons with disabilities along with other participants from the from different sectors and organizations that local government units, schools and other civil society organizations. Participants from persons with disabilities include Deaf, Blind and persons with mobility limitations.
The training of trainers include topics on national disaster situation, climate change, related laws on disaster management,understanding concepts and processes involved in disaster management, and facilitating workshops on community risk assessments, early warning systems, and disaster preparedness and response planning.
Ensuring an inclusive and enabling learning environments during the trainings is one of the major challenge.
This was addressed by engaging and working with groups and organizations working with persons with disability who provided disability sensitivity workshops in working with persons with disability.
Particular individual learning needs of persons with disability were strongly taken into account in the development of training designs and learning activities.Providing support such as sign language interpreters and allocating seats for their personal assistants are ensured during trainings.
The trainers organized and facilitated their own series of community-based disaster risk reduction workshops in 12 barangays as part of their training roll out. These community-based workshops resulted to:
- Awareness raising and training of barangay officials and community members on disability inclusion in disaster preparedness;
- Mapping and identification of persons with disability in the barangays by persons with disability who were participants of the projects training of trainers and capacity development
- Development of hazard maps in the barangays that include information about persons with disability
- Development of inclusive early warning systems and contingency plan;and
- Formation of their local disaster committees with the inclusion and representation of persons with disability, women and elderly
The program also resulted in re-organizing the federation of persons with disability in the two cities and facilitated the appointment of representative to sit in their respective persons with disability affairs office in the local government.
A network of trainers and advocates on disability inclusion from the two cities was formed as a mechanism to sustain and level upthe projects outcomes.
Inclusive information, communication and education materials were also developed for these local trainers to use in their communities. The development of these materials directly involved the participants.
The project provided an opportunity for persons with disability to be included in a training program that matters for their welfare and safety. It has also initiated the strengthening of their individual and collective capacity to engage and participate in local DRR activities and even beyond.
The project also brought together diverse groups of people from different communities and backgrounds in a learning experience that facilitated the establishment of new linkages and relationships – from the government, academe, schools, civil society organizations representing women,youth and elderly, church-base groups and persons with disabilities.
To conclude, the project experience is breakthrough in introducing and promoting inclusion in community-based learning programs and larger development initiatives in the community.
The scope, content, framework and outcomes of the project strongly promote sustainable development. It is hoped that these types of initiatives will further expand and gain policy and funding support to ensure inclusive learning environments are built and barriers to inclusion are addressed in all forms and types of learning.