A Presentation for the National Humanitarian Stakeholders Summit organized by the, Office of Civil Defense, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation and the Center for Disaster Preparedness collectively known as Philippine Preparedness Partnership (PhilPrep) on September 30, 2021, Via Zoom
By: Geanette “Chie” Galvez
A pleasant day to all of us!
It is with great pleasure to be a part of this historic event whereby humanitarian actors re-affirm the value of community leadership through the shifting of power and unlocking the inherent strength of communities. I specifically thank Philippine Preparedness Partnership with the Office of Civil Defense and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, not only for spearheading this event, together with the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP), but for your invaluable support to CDP’s Pinnovation Academy project; a project that seeks to institutionalize Filipino Innovations (Pinnovation) in Disaster Risk Reduction.
Pinnovation Academy is being implemented through the collaboration of the CLIP (Community-Led Innovation Partnership) with START Network, ELRHA and Asia Disaster Reduction and Response Network, with funding support from UK-Aid. At the onset, the CLIP clearly defines what community-led means. Key words may cross our minds such as empowerment, involvement, ownership, localization among others. These words do not only refer to concepts and frameworks but most importantly to actual community practices. Our role as humanitarian and development actors is to ensure that the community leads the entire innovation process from risk assessments, ideating, advocating, testing, pivoting, monitoring, evaluating, sustaining, and replicating.
These are bigger tasks that most community partners feel both excited and overwhelmed.
Excited as most of our community partners, both old and new, want to learn and learn more. The core of community leadership albeit a combination of many factors, would always points towards learning through active engagements, collaborating for new solutions, working with inclusivity and diversity, relying on local strengths and resources, multiplying strengths and resources into constituency, and having an enabling environment for local knowledge to flourish while being open to innovations.
However, for some, the tasks are also too big that they feel overwhelmed, doubting their capacities that restraint their full potentials. Socio-economic factors would also come into play like life-sustaining priorities, especially during the current pandemic crisis. We recognize this hesitation as real and valid. At the same time, we do not limit ourselves. As humanitarian actors, it is our duty to support, encourage and inspire our local innovators and work within their present capacities, gradually leveling-up based on their awareness and readiness.
A common challenge is how to break the inadequacy; where innovators feel they do not know how to innovate. Innovation does not confine itself to hi-tech applications, gadgets, new machines etc. It can also mean a community solution to improve a present system, service, or product. In fact, in some areas there are already innovations, what the community needs is how to link their innovations’ good practices to the concept/framework of community-led DRR solutions. Innovation is also giving birth to a new way of thinking that challenges the old system of doing things, making it flexible and adaptive.
Pinnovation Academy conducted series of community consultations reaching around 160 organizations across the country – these are partners, mentors, and innovators. After the consultations, the project embarked on a thorough mentoring sessions with 1-3 mentoring sessions per day per hub (each hub represents the major island of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao), with a maximum of 3 mentoring sessions for each organization. This painstaking effort resulted in capacitating 80 organizations. The innovators, both diverse and inclusive, represent the vulnerable sectors of women, youth, and children, lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer-intersex LGBTQI+, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, farmers and fisherfolks, while other organizations are multisectoral in nature. These 80 innovators went through the journey of familiarizing themselves in community-led innovation and linking the innovation process to community-based DRRM processes.
Alongside these focused mentoring sessions were learning exchanges with past and present DRR innovators. Inputs/video presentations of innovations and overcoming challenges inspired new innovators. That despite many difficulties and challenges, Filipino ingenuity thrives and will continue to thrive in the communities. Like the bottom-up DRRM approach, community-led innovation is now coming-out of its shell. Local innovations are giving power to the people through leadership in vital decision-making processes, in the identification of community risks and in the ownership of risk-informed local development solutions.
There are always our partners; colleagues and friends from Civil Society Organizations/Non-Government Organization, supportive Local Government Units, the Academe, and the private sector. The partners helped in any way they can to advocate for and encourage local innovations, but we let the community-led innovation process takes its course. We are there to support and provide technical assistance, but it is the community people that defines and determines their innovation pathway to development goal.
Technical assistance provided were orientations on Innovation Processes, Ideating, Input on Philippine Innovation Ecosystem, Training on Participatory Community Risk Assessment with DRRM/CCAM Basics, Training on Proposal Development and Workshop on Problem/Solution Canvas. Other capacity building for the shortlisted innovators includes project management, financial management and due diligence. Information/education materials and knowledge management products were developed and shared with the partners and innovators as we are planning to produce an Innovation Process Manual that would encapsulate key processes, systems, and mechanisms on community-led innovations.
In the conclusion of the call for applications, submitted proposals for the Pinnovation Academy came from 67 innovators with 24 innovations for the Luzon Hub, 23 for the Visayas Hub and 20 for the Mindanao Hub. The short listing of 30 innovators that will undergo the screening process towards the selection of the 15 innovators for seed funding is on-going.
Further, Pinnovation Academy does not end in the awarding of grant. The goal of the Community-Led Innovation Partnership and the Center for Disaster Preparedness is to help institutionalize local innovations in DRRM, beyond the project’s lifetime. Pinnovation Academy as a national hub for community-led innovations is the platform for institutionalization and learning exchanges of innovators, partners and mentors. It is a venue for conversations on the challenges, needs and opportunities for innovation. This will be strengthened through advocacy within government units and national agencies, and surely within the private sector as well.
Sustaining local innovations need the support of all stakeholders who believe in the power of the community to determine their own pathways to development. It is our duty to unlock this power and at the same time provide an enabling environment where local ingenuity thrives.
An ordinance or a resolution for Local Government Units, a memorandum for national government agencies, a slice of development and DRRM fund, a part of corporate social responsibility, a shared technical expertise, an opening for additional funding, a collaboration for knowledge-sharing, these initiatives will go a long way towards institutionalization. The center of which is the advocacy to empower the communities through local innovations. This is how Pinnovation Academy realizes this shifting of power; letting local innovations become a potent platform to unlock the creative and innovative power of the community towards self-determined development and meaningful social change. Innovation does not only refer to innovators and enablers but also to their environment. The question is, are we providing enough infrastructure, policies, laws, regulations, systems, and mechanisms to encourage and institutionalize Filipino innovations? This is for all of us to ponder. It would be good to bear in mind that we have a role and responsibility to sustain it as we put our partner-communities at the center of our development efforts and therefore in having such mindset, we will endeavor to find ways and means to make innovative development solutions prosper and not dissipate, as this is a very important development intervention in this day and time.
The communities have responded to the Pinnovation Academy’s Call - Be a Pinnovator now! It remains our duty to continue this journey with them and we invite all of you to join us. Let us build a community-led innovation academy. Let us continue to empower our communities.
Mabuhay ang mga Pinoy Innovators! Mabuhay tayong lahat!
Geanette “Chie” Galvez is the Project Manager of Pinnovation Academy and the Program Head of the Center for Disaster Preparedness’ Community Services Program.