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Academe, CSOs meet for National Advocacy Workshop on DRR

Manila, Philippines– The Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) organized the National Advocacy Workshop in the Philippines on March 22-24, 2017 through the support of Global Network of Civil Society Organizations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR), and the Consortium on Humanitarian Action and Protection. The workshop aims to bring together around 32 GNDR members and other civil society groups in the Philippines and work together to delve around a shared issue on disaster risk reduction and resilience.

On the first day, Ms. Loreine Dela Cruz, Executive Director of CDP, gave the opening remarks, where she emphasized the goals of the workshop: to bring together different CSOs to discuss the shared objective of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) and resilience, as well as to strengthen networks and create positive change through advocacy-building. Ms. Levi Francisco, CDP's Advocacy, Partnership and Networking Program Head, then presented the workshop rationale and design, where she underscored the value of creating long-term solutions to present problems, and improving advocacy focus and alliance-building with various sectors and stakeholders. Dr. Ben Molino from iDefend and Alyansa Tigil Mina discussed the present national situation of the country, which showcased the vulnerabilities of marginalized sectors because of practices such as irresponsible and abusive mining, to name a few.

Following Dr. Molino’s presentation, Jesusa Grace Molina, the Research, Knowledge Exchange, and Management Program Head of CDP, shared about Frontline , which is an action research project that aimed to gather local risks and perceptions among communities, and transform them into outputs such as local risk profiles, advocacy campaigns, and mapping of actions and barriers to community resilience. The first year of the project gathered evidence from communities, which pinpointed specific threats, consequences, barriers, and actions that communities take towards resilience. The second year involved the development of materials and organizing of learning events based on the evidences gathered from the first year.

Next, Ms. Francisco presented the results of the sunset review of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121), and advocacy gains in DRR. Issues that surfaced in the Sunset Review involved the lack of resources and authority of the Office of Civil Defense in confronting disasters, the lack of functionality of many local disaster risk reduction management councils (LDRRMCs), the failure of LGUs to utilize DRR funds, and the difficulty of people's and community organizations from participating in policy-making. Meanwhile, advocacy gains included increasing engagements with local and international organizations, as well as the lobbying of an amendatory bill for RA 10121, which would involve the creation of a separate National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA). On the other hand, Ms. Kamille Ruiz of DRRNet Phils discussed the progress and challenges towards lobbying for the amendatory bill. Ms. Zenaida Dellica-Willison, one of the workshop facilitators, ended the day by summarizing the highlights and issues raised by the speakers and participants from the various discussions.

On the second day, the participants worked on a problem tree and objective setting exercise. The participants were divided into groups according to the geographic locations they are focused on: Manila, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The following were among the problems faced by participants in their communities: lack of employment opportunities, environmental degradation, weak government and leadership, corruption, lack of inclusivity and participation, poverty, and presence of armed conflict. Solutions involved increasing participation of CSOs, promotion good government practices, and advocacy campaigns. The groups then used the force-field analysis tool where they identified factors that would helpe and hinder their advocacies. To determine key players who could support or threaten their advocacies and mandates, the groups also did the power-mapping activity. Before the day concluded, the groups were tasked to identify two stakeholders, and how the groups could best forward their advocacies to the stakeholders.

To begin the third day, the groups presented how they could communicate their advocacies to their chosen stakeholders. They talked of how they would make use of blogs, social media platforms such as Twitter, primers, letters, case studies, videos, petitions, and rallies to promote DRR among civilians, organizations, and government officials. They then conducted a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis of their current practices and initiatives. Strengths included community organizing, the wide networks of partnerships and linkages available and awareness of issues, while weaknesses included a lack of resources and funding. Meanwhile, among the opportunities were support from government and non-government agencies, as well as a rich pool of local knowledge. Some identified threats were funding competition, harassment of progressive workers, discrimination, and the possibility of Martial Law. The groups also had a rich discussion on the treatment and funding from international non-government organizations. Afterward, Ms. Ruiz discussed plans on how to influence stakeholders to commit to advocacies like DRRM through processes such as lobbying, meetings, dialogue, and mass campaigning.

The last part of the workshop was carried out through an action planning activity. Provided with a template, each of the groups identified the objectives, activities, indicators, target groups, person in charge, timeframe, and budget requirement for fulfilling their chosen advocacy focus. Among the plans presented, the participants agreed that the budget from the GNDR be allocated for the passage of an amendatory bill creating NDRRMA. Tools for monitoring and evaluating advocacy plans were also shared to them. To finally conclude the three-day activity, Ms. Loreine Dela Cruz synthesized the key points raised from the discussions and reminded everyone of the importance of commitment and collective action in making advocacy work effective and sustainable.

Thirty-two (32) members of the GNDR, academe, and other civil society organizations (CSOs) namely, CBCP Caritas, Buklod Tao, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Tri-People's Organization Against Disasters Foundation, A2D Project, Damayan ng Maralitang Pilipinong Api, Assistance and Cooperation for Community Resilience, Ateneo School of Government, World Vision, Coastal Core, UP Visayas Foundation, Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits, Central Bicol State University Development Organization, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Coalition of Services of the Elderly, and Ranao Disaster Reduction and Rehabilitation Assistance Center participated in the event.

This is part of a three-year project in partnership with GNDR entitled 'Frontline: Turning community views in action' being implemented in the Philippines by CDP since 2015. It is a global initiative that aims to measure community resilience; identify actions and advocacy activities for the improvement of disaster management at all levels; and strengthen civil society organizations at the local level across developing countries and regions.

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