Belize. March 7, 2019. Forty four participants from eight Caribbean countries are now better equipped to effectively plan and respond to the impact of climate change and disasters in the Region.

On Friday (March 1, 2019), the group of community development practitioners completed a week of training on livelihood profile assessments which are used to identify and assist vulnerable groups most likely to be impacted by disasters.

Richardo Aiken, Community Development Specialist with the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF) of the Caribbean Development Bank explained the significance of the exercise, stating:

“Livelihood baseline information is an important part of disaster preparedness at the national and community levels. Baseline information should be collected in advance and kept updated as it helps emergency workers know in advance about the population of the area(s) affected by a natural hazard event.”

Aiken made the remarks on behalf of project Manager, Claudia James, at the opening of the Livelihood Assessment Training last Monday (February 25, 2019) in Placencia, Belize. The five day workshop was a collaborative effort between the CDRRF and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Aiken’s comments were supported by Ms. Susanne Jensen, Country Director, Humana People to People in Belize who highlighted collaboration as a key part of Humana’s open dialogue and collective action approach to mobilize participants. Humana People was responsible for implementing the CDRRF project in Belize under which the livelihood profile assessments fall.

“Livelihood profile and contingency planning are important aspects when working with people and disaster reduction. We must know who the people are and their situation and capacity. We must learn the hazards that put people at risk and together with the people, take a stand to engage with them about what to do, who to do it with and when to do it, to be well prepared before, during and after a hazard,” said Jensen.

A livelihood profile incorporates socio-demographic data on local populations and uses that to outline the groups most vulnerable to the impact of disasters. Workshop coordinators emphasised the tool as being critical for several aspects of community level and national disaster planning. 

 “If we plan to reduce the effects of these phenomena [disasters and climate change], the country and region will be in a better place…workshops such as this are important in equipping technicians and practitioners with knowledge, skills and strategies necessary to be effective in planning and delivering better services to the people we serve,” said Ernest Banner, Coordinator from the Department for Rural Development in Belize.

Both CDRRF and FAO were happy with the level of collaboration at and for the workshop.

Martina Duncan, Junior Professional Climate Change officer at the FAO, welcomed the collaboration stating that it fell in line with FAO’s work in the Caribbean and globally around emergency response and developing Disaster Risk Management plans.

During the workshop the Community Development practitioners from Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines were exposed to FAO’s Livelihood Assessment Toolkit as a guide for creating their own national kits.

According to Duncan, the use of the livelihood assessment kit is an important entry point to be rolled out across the Caribbean. The workshop attendees also took part in field activities to help them better understand the process involved in creating a livelihood baseline profile and contingency plan.