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Citizen journalism: Women'€™s power against disasters

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Mon, April 6, 2015   /  07:23 am
Citizen journalism: Women'€™s power against disasters

Woman power: Female participants of the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) pose for a photograph in Sendai, Japan, last month. Courtesy of Oxfam

Upon arriving in Sendai for the UN conference on disaster risk reduction (DRR), the first thing I spotted was a big picture in Sendai'€™s major newspaper featuring smiling farmers holding delicious-looking strawberries they had picked from the field that were declared radiation-free.

These efforts to build resilience helped the community cope with the disaster that destroyed the livelihoods of many when the tsunami struck Japan in 2011.

At the DRR conference, I chaired a working session on building up the resilience of rural areas. Six panel speakers from Asia, Africa and Latin America shared innovative approaches to this.

These included protecting natural resources and managing them sustainably; building partnerships between local communities, government authorities and civil society; and most importantly, provision of financial resources to enable people to better prepare for disasters and to reduce the related everyday risks they face.

The working session '€œBuilding Resilient Futures for Rural Areas'€ saw several women who work with locals share their best practices. These women included Godavari Dange, Grace Balawag and Haydee Rodriguez.

Dange, the president of Maharashtra Agricultural Producer, spoke about her network of about 75,000 women and a mechanism that has been implemented in the Community Resilience Fund to combat climate risks they often face, like drought.

Balawag is the deputy coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples'€™ International Center for Policy Research and Education (Tebtebba) in the Philippines. She urged for more community participatory research to extend indigenous knowledge to intergenerational education, particularly in water conservation and sustainable farming.

Last but not the least was Rodriguez, the president of Las Brumas Cooperativas, a network of 22 cooperatives of over 1,320 women in Nicaragua. She identified three essentials for resilience: practices must be women-centered and promote long-term processes of empowerment; demonstrate tangible results that can be sustained over time; and demonstrate a high degree of adaptability to local situations.

Mayling Chan
International Program Director
Oxfam, Hong Kong

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