Note: This is a part of a comprehensive step-by-step approach for creating a Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) program. Check out the main topic page, CBDRR Practitioners Guidelines, to learn more about the full guidelines.
This step focuses on developing or strengthening National Society capacities to deliver and sustain CBDRR programmes and the ability to scale-up activities in the future. The first part of this step involves assessing current strengths and gaps and identifying ways to address them.
Notably, this step does not include activities addressing NS disaster management (preparedness and response) capacity which may be included either as a parallel track, or as an additional step to the proposed CBDRR cycle.
What do I need to know?
Why is this important?
This step is crucial to development of any CBDRR programme, as certain capacities are needed to manage programmes and support their sustainability. It is therefore vital that adequate time and resources are set aside to allow for the recognition, prioritization, planning and maintenance of activities to ensure that the necessary capacities are in place for the smooth-running of programmes ahead of programme start.
Capacity building in National Societies is addressed in myriad ways. Different approaches currently include:
- Separate or parallel National Society organisational development and capacity building (OD/CB) approaches.
- Selected elements of NS OD/CB in conjunction with other sister programmes.
- Prioritisation of selected elements specific to the current or planned CBDRR.
What are key questions to be answered to determine NS capacity building priorities?
- How are the NS governance & management (at both the national HQ and branch levels) involved in the CBDRR programmes and the capacity building process?
- What influence or engagement occurs, or should occur, between the different stakeholders?
- What staff and volunteer capacity are required for the programme at the national, branch and local levels?
- What are the roles and responsibilities of these stakeholders?
- What are the relationships between these actors, and how are they managed and supervised?
- In general, what skills and resources (material, financial, technical) do staff and volunteers need in order to fulfil their roles?
- How will beneficiaries be involved in the programme? How will we ensure that the minimum standard of beneficiary accountability (transparency, participation, beneficiary M&E and complaints and response) are met?
- Are adequate financial management systems and procedures in place at the HQ and branch levels?
- Are adequate planning, M&E and reporting procedures in place at the HQ and branch levels? Are role and responsibilities for these different elements clear?
- Do these systems effectively support programme managers to make sound decisions and ensure programme quality?
- Is there a need for additional capacity building of staff in programmatic or technical areas?
- Is programme funding secure? Is it short, medium or long term, and in line with the proposed programme duration?
- Is programme funding from multiple or diverse sources?
- Are funding sources sufficient to cover all proposed activities?
- Do donors include funding for NS capacity building activities required for the running of the programme?
- Is additional resource mobilisation required for programme implementation or scale-up? If so, how will this be carried out?
- What partners (both internal and external to the Movement) exist and how can partnerships help address known gaps in capacity?
Elements of an organizational capacity assessment
- Management structure
- Financial management systems
- Resource mobilization
- Management of physical and material inputs
- Programmatic capacity
- M&E capacity
- Reporting Capacity
- Accountability to beneficiaries awareness
- Partnership management
- Other technical capacities
- Overall clarity in roles and responsibilities
What are the basic steps?
There are three main steps involved: (1) capacity assessment & recognition of key gaps, (2) prioritization of items to address and (3) planning of activities to ensure that the necessary capacities are in place.
1. Capacity Assessment
The following five broad areas outline potential areas for capacity development in line with the key questions to be considered as outlined above:
- Encouraging and involving NS governance, accountability and leadership of planned CBDRR initiatives.
- Improving volunteer and staff management to enable effective risk reduction programming.
- Ensuring that adequate physical or material inputs are in place for the running of the programme.
- Strengthening CBDRR programme cycle management.
- Widening partnerships and mobilising additional resources to strengthen DRR capacity for more effective and timely DRR initiatives.
It is important for assessment to occur at both the national level and in the proposed branches where the programme may take place. Findings of the capacity assessments and available resources should influence where and how the programme will best be supported. A range of branch and organisational capacity assessment tools are now available from IFRC.
When assessing capacity, it is always important to consider what will remain after the project finishes and how it will be maintained. Learning from National Societies in East Africa has shown that such capacity can remain active in undertaking what are called ‘invisible activities’ like preparedness campaigns in villages, basic training, establishing local early warning systems – activities that do not necessarily require donor funding.
The capacity assessment may produce a long list of needs, however resources to address them may be limited. Therefore it may be necessary to define the minimum standards or minimum capacities necessary for project implementation. These are specific items without which implementation cannot be carried out and therefore they should be prioritized for support.
Minimum requirements may be universal such as having a sufficient number of volunteers or robust financial systems and procedures in place, but identified needs and priorities for capacity building will vary depending on the particular context.
CBDRR builds upon traditional RCRC strengths in organising and training communities to be better prepared, and awareness raising around disaster risks and early warning systems. These may be considered as the basic building blocks of any branch capacity to deliver CBDRR.
Some gaps may ‘easily’ be addressed such as running drives to recruit new volunteers, whilst other gaps may require more effort or may not be resolvable at all e.g. raising funds in tight economic climates.
After identifying the essential needs or minimum requirements, prioritise additional areas that could be addressed in a phased manner or in-line with longer term organisational development and capacity building plans. Prioritisation may also influence the type of assessment undertaken – there is no point undertaking a comprehensive vulnerability and capacity assessment if there is limited capacity available. For example, perhaps the only thing a branch can only do is a limited, but valuable, activity like run an information campaign.
3. Planning the capacity building activities
Ideally, identify short, medium and longer term activities that can address the gaps identified in the previous steps. The activities should correspond to programme development and implementation; that is, determine what has to be done prior to implementation and what can be done during implementation.
- Roles and responsibilities and programme cycle management procedures must be made clear during the inception period prior to the start of programme activities.
- Stagger programme of human resource development initiatives (such as trainings) as the programme develops. Don’t forget about refresher trainings.
- Ensure performance assessments are scheduled throughout programme implementation.
What are some success factors or key determinants?
- NS ownership of the capacity building process is key. The NS must be in the driving seat using self-assessment, prioritisation and planning tools to define its own strengths, weaknesses and gaps.
- The process must be transparent, participatory and include all identified stakeholders.
- There must be strong leadership buy-in; if it is weak, neutral or indifferent it will have varying consequences for the programme.
- The CBDRR programme must be aligned to existing structures and systems in the NS and must look to build on existing capacities and identified priorities.
- The CBDRR programme strategy must be clearly linked to the broader NS strategy and priorities including organizational development plans.
- Finally, the process must be flexible allowing for modifications as and when required throughout the duration of the programme.
Arup identifies additional key determinants that should be reflected upon when doing the capacity assessment:
- Having sufficient funding for, and financial management of, CBDRR programmes.
- Having adequate assessment, monitoring and evaluation procedures.
Implementing partners frequently have competing and conflicting demands on NS resources, as wellas a host of different approaches with regards to programme development and implementation. These need to be discussed and addressed openly. Efforts must be made for coordinated and synchronised interventions following the NS priorities, plans and procedures.
Documenting the results of the organizational capacity assessment
The results of this step should be documented and included in the programme strategy. There is no recommended outline but the information could be summarized like a mini action plan whereby strengths and weaknesses are identified and ways to maintain or mitigate them over time addressed.
What are some useful tools and methodologies?
- Well-prepared National Society Self-Assessment (2009-2011)
- National Society Core Cost Model, 8 NS Africa Initiative
- Beneficiary Accoutability Framework, British Red Cross
- Volunteering in emergencies: Practical guidelines for RCRC Societies
- Managing CBHFA in action, from the Implementation guide for CBHFA, IFRC
- Staff and volunteer KAP survey, Canadian Red Cross
- Branch assessment tools
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