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As an organization working with some of the world's most vulnerable people in a number of locations very prone to natural disaster, it is important to keep our staff up-to-date on the best training available. Heifer International knows from experience how critical this preparedness is. Heifer Philippines pioneered the Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction training four years ago after Heifer identified the exposed island nation as its number one country of concern in terms of natural disasters.

Super Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines in December 2012, causing serious damage and loss of life. Thankfully, seven months before Bopha made landfall, Heifer provided Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) trainings for its project participants. After the typhoon, families gave feedback that the training helped to greatly mitigate the effects of disasters and improve response times.  

To expand the successful experience in the Philippines, a cross-training plan for other countries that are at high-risk for disasters was also included as part of the grant. Heifer staff from Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Mexico, Bolivia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and our U.S. headquarters attended a training hosted by Heifer Philippines May 2014. During the participatory training, Heifer teams from the country programs worked together to learn best practices and approaches in training, design and implementation of CMDRR.


The training included orientation and best practices of the Philippines country office in preparing disaster response at the country program office level. It also included CMDRR terminologies, facilitation approaches, capacity building, interaction with the government DRR/climate change office and a visit to the Lamba community, a community supported by Heifer that has received national recognition for its excellent CMDRR. 

All attending country programs have developed action plans to incorporate CMDRR in all new projects going forward. Guatemala and the Philippines teams continued on to southern Philippines in order to participate in a more in-depth CMDRR training with Heifer supported communities through May 24, to develop a Heifer-wide CMDRR toolkit. They will plan additional trainings for the countries who did not attend the second phase of the training in Guatemala for fiscal year 2015.

This experience was made possible by the Margaret A Cargill Foundation. Heifer hopes to continue on the path of making organizational learning more proactive for the risks we know we need to address. 

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