The Cayman Islands Red Cross recently hosted a regional training seminar for vulnerability and capacity assessment.
The training was opened by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who commended the relief organisation for the work they do, not only in Cayman, but throughout the region and around the globe. The meeting was also addressed by Andrew McLaughlin, the chairman of the Cayman Islands Red Cross, on his experiences with conducting vulnerability and capacity assessment in Cayman communities, including Belford Estates.
According to Jondo Obi, director of the Cayman Islands Red Cross, the training was attended by representatives from Cayman, Turks and Caicos, Montserrat, Anguilla and Bermuda.
“We invited our counterparts from Hazard Management, and we also had two volunteers from Cayman Brac. In total there were 27 participants. The head facilitator was Jose Bonilla, who works for the international Red Cross and is based in Haiti,” Ms Obi said.
She said that the Cayman Islands Red Cross felt honoured to have been asked to host the training, which was part of an effort by the British Red Cross to support overseas branches with risk reduction projects.
“One of the things they decided to fund was the VCA training in the region. Because the Cayman Islands Red Cross had conducted VCA training in the past they asked us whether we would be willing to host this training and we were delighted to accept,” she said.
The training was aimed at teaching representatives the skills needed to assess vulnerabilities and capacities in communities, providing feedback to communities and setting up local committees to assist with risk reduction.
“It is a bottom up approach as opposed to a top down approach. At the end of it all you are trying to form community teams so that in the event that there is a disaster, whether it is a hurricane, a flood or a fire, you’ve got these resources that you have established in each community that can respond locally if it is community based or nationally,” Ms Obi said.
A large part of the training is focussed on how to connect with communities and garner the relevant information from discussions with members of the community.
“You can only help the communities when you understand them. We’re working to get people excited in the communities, we are working to set up these teams and get them empowered. The Red Cross will always be there to provide support when needed,” Ms Obi said.
The attendees were presented with an opportunity to use the skills they had gained in the field as well, with an assessment being conducted in the District of North Side on the final two days of the training.
“On Friday, [the attendees] drew a map identifying hazards and capacities. We created a big map with all the hazards and capacities in that community. On the Saturday morning we went back to the community and did interviews to find out what the people think. Then we came back, put it all together and did a presentation using the various tools,” Ms Obi said.
She said that the work done by the attendees would be verified and would in the future form part of the Red Cross’ local knowledge base. The information gathered can help the Red Cross respond more effectively to the needs of communities and can also assist other organisation to make their work in the communities more targeted. It can even assist donors in making decisions on how to best assist a community.
“We are the bridge to help, because the experts are out there and we want to link the community to the experts,” Ms Obi said.
The training also extended to a Train the Trainers session in order to built capacity for future local and regional training.
“We built capacity here now so that if we have to do it again next year we’ve got the trainers, which is very important for us,” Ms Obi said.