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 It is believed that people hit hardest by disasters/hazards know best where the threats are, what   they can do about them and what support they need to better safeguard themselves and livelihoods assets. PACIDA through support from FH-Kenya, uses the Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) process to help communities become resilient communities where communities are supported to identify disaster risks themselves and to work on preventive, mitigation and preparedness measures.

Rawan community in Moyale Sub-county, Marsabit County is one such community. It has an estimated population of 82 households, with an average of 6 people per household totaling to about 492 people. In May 2016, PACIDA conducted a CMDRR training for the community in a bid to increase capacities of local people and reduce the risks of hazards.

“We have been trained previously but not as comprehensive as the 9-day training for the 24 members (15 committee members and additional 9 community members) and the only one this year by PACIDA. CMDRR was covered extensively, risk mapping, contingency and action planning amongst

others. The training was exceptionally challenging and as a 15-member DRR committee, we vowed to lobby for a few action points captured in our action plan to see to it that we achieve a few things for Rawan community before the year comes to an end,” says Ms. Buke Gababa, with much self-assurance. She continues, “During the 5-day training, we were challenged how our CMDRR plan could act as a tool to solicit for assistance from actors.

Walking around the village, I comb through its pockets to see if there have been any changes. I am a cheesed off for a moment but as though she was reading my mind, Ms. Rufo, a member of the CMDRR committee walks to me and leads me to the direction of Rawan Primary School. I can see heaps of gravel and sand besides a rather dilapidated make-shift kitchen. Further up, I notice a structure coming up and just around the school compound, I can see poles being erected. My excitement at this point is thinly veiled and I go straight to asking many successive questions.
“As soon as we learnt that our CMDRR plan could be used to implore for assistance, we took the idea and ran with it. We approached different actors for assistance and so far things are looking up,” says Abdub Dabaso. Rawan Community Dispensary was in a sorry state with run-down structure and the capacity could not hold the now growing population in the event many people fell sick all at once. The committee approached the County Government and requested for a new structure and within no time, a foundation for the new dispensary is in progress. Courtesy the committees’ request, the County Government were also able to assist in desilting and expansion of the Earthpan.  At school, during learning hours, learners and teachers alike faced challenges with animals grazing in the compound, all that decorated the compound was animal excretion, the playground and sometimes classes had now been reduced to a grazing field as they had to compete for space with the livestock, derailing the learning and learners concentration destructed. A fence is now being put up by a FH-K. We also are in the process of developing a joint grazing management plan for Rawan, Turbi and Funan Qumbi communities that we believe will enhance inter-community peaceful co-existence between Gabra and Borana communities and overally improve on our grazing management patterns.

Additionally, the school’s kitchen is rickety. As much as we have an energy saving jiko, we do not have a great structure to house it. It’s in the open, strong winds blow and end up contaminating the food when not covered. Having approached one of the actors, they agreed to assist us put up a descent kitchen but each household was to contribute two wheelbarrows of gravel while labour and other materials were from the actor i.e FH-K. Vaccination and deworming exercise of small stock also took place; a joint effort of PACIDA, FH-K, FAO and the County Government.

I am all over the moon at this time and I can’t hold back one fiery question. “So members what was your motivation to achieving all these within months considering other actors came, developed the plans and left you with them in the past years but nothing tangible was seen then?”

The Committee’s chairlady says, “Well, we first of all had to own the document and agree we had needs. Then we realized that this was a live document that gave us much power to solicit for assistance. Then as a community we decided we wanted to make our community a better place to live in for us and generations to come. We want to make a positive social change. Moreover, as a DRR committee, we meet up on a weekly basis to strategize our next move of action and this brings cohesiveness and commitment amongst us. Our needs are also demand-driven and we get a bit more aggressive to meet the demand. We even go physically to both state and no-state actors to seek for help. These gives us the determination to keep going.” The whole fifteen member committee nods their heads as though in total agreement with the 65-year old chairperson. “We also have undergone trainings on different aspects and whenever we meet up with community members from other locations, we learn from them and borrow their strategies that we utilize to become better. Additionally, we have weekly platforms for expressing our concerns as a community like community conversations and public participation forums,” adds Mr. Abdub, a member of the DRR committee.

Looking at Rawan’s community action plan (2016-2017), a lot is yet to be achieved but having done commendable job since the training from PACIDA in August 2016, four months down the line, they are making great headways. They reckon though that they’re facing a couple of challenges including reaching a consensus on the kind of development to undertake which is literally an uphill task as everyone sees priority in different lenses, no funding kitty for the implementation of the action plan, members not having enough capacity on lobbying skills as well as logistical issues for moving from office to office. Their call to other communities is for them to be go-getters and pro-active to be the ones to seek help and not just be comfortable to wait for help to come their way.
“We feel great having achieved some of our objectives and we believe that we’ll systematically manage our disaster risk reduction measures towards becoming a safe and resilient community. Rawan community is now empowered to prepare and respond to micro level hazards, much appreciation to PACIDA, says Ms Gababa with a wide smirk on her face.