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Reducing risk: participatory learning activities for disaster mitigation in Southern Africa

Astrid Von Kotze and Ailsa Holloway, 1996.  301pp. Produced by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Department of Adult and Community Education, University of Natal. (Oxford, UK: Oxfam Publishing). Working from an adult education model, a highly gender-sensitive set of participatory learning activities for disaster mitigation was produced by two women researchers and activists for use in Southern Africa with support from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in southern Africa. Assessing women’s livelihood in disaster contexts is a core component of the training. Workshop participants are provided information about how gender relates to disaster risk, and also helped to recognize gender dynamics within the small work groups as they are being trained in risk management. The grassroots training model offers substantive discussion of the links between gender equality and disaster risk reduction. It includes a number of exercises in which women and men jointly analyze village life to identify local hazards, vulnerabilities, and coping strategies. Specific patterns in the local gender divisions of labor are determined. By identify and supporting economic resources controlled by women, the potential contribution of women’s work in disasters can be anticipated and their efforts supported. For example, women who grow indigenous food crops with nutritional, medical, and fodder value increase the economic resilience of their households.

Key words: South Africa, mitigation, community planning, public education, grassroots, training

Communication Tool Kit for Emergencies, Handbook on Behaviour Change Communication

2005. Produced by UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia, Kathmandu. Available through UNICEF ROSA, Kathmandu, Nepal

The past experiences with natural disaster responses such as the recent tsunami, clearly indicate that it is critical that all programme communication, be that in health, hygiene, education or child protection efforts are based on evidence and are well planned, implemented and monitored to achieve greater results for women and children affected by natural disasters. The tool kit aims to assist UNICEF Programme staff, other UN agencies, and government and NGO partners to plan, implement, and monitor programme communication initiatives in emergency and disaster situations. The tool kits covers the areas of health, education, hygiene promotion, getting children back to school, promoting and ensuring child protection measures in emergency situations. The Tool Kit examines cultural and gender issues in behavioural communication and related planning principles, gender aspects of hygiene promoting in emergencies, and promoting safe motherhood and breastfeeding practises in emergencies. The Kit offers practical tools for message development, main actions, intervention levels and sample indicators for each area covered.

Key words: South Asia, emergencies, behavioural communication, health, education, GBV, women and children, practice, communication, health

Women in Emergencies

1997. Department of Humanitarian Affairs DHA News Special Issue, 1997. Multiple short accounts from around the world debunking myths and stereotypes. See Table of Contents in section one of the Sourcebook [Gender and Disaster: Lessons from the FIeld.

For example, trainers might well use:

Community life and disaster reduction. Natalie Domeisen
Cyclones: The Days After, R. Kabir
Disaster management, women: an asset or liability?
D. Pastizzi Ferencic
The needs and potential of women in emergencies. Katarina Toll

Key words: IGO, gender analysis, practice, training

Unsung Heroines: Women and Natural Disasters

Gender Matters,  Information Bulletin No. 8, US Agency for International Development. 2000, 4 pp. Short paragraph-long descriptions of women and grassroots women's groups responding proactively to hurricane Mitch and other disasters makes this a useful discussion tool.

Key words: grassroots, women's groups, capacity, empowerment, emergency response, recovery, reconstruction

Gender and Development

As noted in the Case Studies section of the Sourcebook, this Oxfam journal has published several special issues relevant to women,gender and disaster. The entire issue could be used as a reading for trainings or college courses as each offers an analytic introduction, short case studies (or excerpts) from around the world based on accounts from field workers or researchers with a gender focus, and an excellent resource section:

Women and the Environment, G. Reardon, ed. Oxfam Focus on Gender 1 (1), 1993.
Women and Emergencies, B. Walker, ed. Oxfam Focus on Gender 2 (1), 1994.
Humanitarian Work. Gender and Development 9 (3), 2001.
Climate Change. Gender and Development 10 (2), 2002.

Key words: Research, NGOs, cross hazard, research, practice, policy, livelihood, community, emergency management

Stop Disasters #24

UN IDNDR 1995. Good training materials are included, for example in Expanding Women’s Participation In Disaster Prevention And Mitigation: Some Approaches From Latin America And The Caribbean, by Helena Molin Valdes, pp. 10-11.

Key words: Prevention, children, IGO, community, capacity building

All India Disaster Mitigation Institute Information Series

Among others, see English-language publications on Planning Vulnerability Reduction: Women Artisans of Kutch Desert, and Vulnerability of Women in South Asia, Conceptual Frameworks for Gender Analysis.
Series list: infosheet list.htm

Key words: South Asia, community education, mitigation, NGO, empowerment, livelihood, training

Beyond The Veil: Women In Islamic National Societies



Carolyn Oxlee, 2000. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Magazine. This rare discussion of the challenges posed by gender relations in highly segregated societies is valuable for training responders and relief workers and for initiating discussion of the need for culturally competent approaches to “ gendering the agenda.” It includes examples of successful integration of women into community education roles.

Key words: relief agencies, emergency relief, preparedness, vulnerability, training, emergency management

From The Field: Gender Issues In Disaster Response And Recovery

Kristina Peterson, 1997. Natural Hazards Observer 21 (5): 3-4. This is an excellent short training piece focusing on low-income women's capacities as well as their vulnerabilties.

Key words: US, women's groups, capacity, grassroots

The Oxfam Gender Training Manual

Suzanne Williams with Janet Seed and Adelina Mwau. 1994.
Distributed by Oxfam UK and Ireland. 634 pp.

This well-known resource offers gender and disaster trainers a great deal of general material on gender relations which would supplement a workshop on disasters and emergency relief. General guidelines for facilitators are included as are ice-breakers and other group exercises. Very practical and targeted handouts and exercises are offered to increase gender awareness among women and link gender relations to larger cultural and global patterns. Comprehensive guidelines and resources are provided to promote organizational self study and more gender-equitable planning and practice in any field, with particular discussion of global development issues. The handouts on Gender and Emergencies and handouts in the section on Gender and Environment are useful. The Manual includes a comprehensive (dated) bibliography included audiovisual resources and additional gender and development training packages.

For permission to reproduce materials, contact Oxfam Publishing []

Key words: training, practice, IGNO, education

The Oxfam Handbook of Development and Relief

Vol 1-3. Diane Eade and Suzanne Williams (eds.).
1995. Oxford, UK: Oxfam. Excellent case material is available from field practice to support a strong analytic framework. Well-known resource for community based risk reduction with a strong gender perspective.

Key words: practice, policy, emergency relief, cross hazard, community

Integrating Community, Gender and Women's Empowerment Issues Into Disaster Recovery and Risk Management Operations

June 23 2005. Sponsored by the Hazard Management Unit of the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development IBRD in collaboration with GROOTS (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood). Panel discussions based on case studies of grassroots women’s participation in specific disaster events internationally. An excellent resource for identifying lessons to be learned from bad practices and good, and for contacting experts in the field who are knowledgeable about women’s community work around disasters.

As described by IBRD: This one day course - combining video, sharing of innovative NGO practices, and interactive learning among workshop participants - will explore strategies for involving affected communities in post-disaster recovery and disaster mitigation, with an emphasis on recovery strategies following the 2004 tsunami. The training is presented in collaboration with the Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood (GROOTS).

Case studies that detail how grassroots women’s groups have participated in specific disaster events in various countries will anchor the course and support the review of central themes. In the context of responding to disasters as development rather than emergency events, the course will analyze and discuss the policy implications of:

  • how disasters impact women and men differently,
  • how the structure of entitlement and implementation programs can reduce or preserve inequities, and
  • how the disaster recovery process can be used as an opportunity for transferring decision making, implementation, and resources to poor communities and promoting gender equitable development over time.

Course Presentations

Introduction and background: Margaret Arnold, Hazard Management Unit
Overview: Sandy Schilen, GROOTS International

Naming Bad Practice: How Affected Communities can be Sidelined by Disaster Response and Risk Management
Suzanne Shende, Comité de Emergencia de Garifuna, Honduras
Suranjana Gupta, GROOTS International (on behalf of Swayam Shikshan Prayog)
Carmen Griffiths, Construction Resource Development Center, Jamaica
Marilu Sanchez, Estrategia, Peru

Innovative Alternatives: Strategies and Practices that Facilitate Community Involvement and Women’s Participation
Ana Lucy Bengochea, Comité de Emergencia de Garifuna, Honduras
Carmen Griffiths, Construction Resource Development Center, Jamaica
Roxana Aching, Mujeres Unidas Para Un Pueblo Mejor, Peru
Kala Peiris De Costa, Siyath Foundation, Sri Lanka
Muthu Velayutham Nagamalai, Covenant Centre for Development, Tamil Nadu, India
Mihir Bhatt, Disaster Mitigation Institute, Ahmedabad, India

Applying Lessons Learned to Tsunami-Affected Areas: Local Challenges and Opportunities in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka
Kala Peiris De Costa, Siyath Foundation, Sri Lanka
Mihir Bhatt, Disaster Mitigation Institute, Ahmedabad, India
Muthu Velayutham Nagamalai, Covenant Centre for Development, Tamil Nadu, India and Kasthuri Chandrasekar, Community Leader, Mahakalasm, Tamil Nadu, India

See notice on the website of the IBRD:

Con El Agua Hasta El Cuello: Que Trata Del Más Desastroso De Los Desastres Y De Cómo Ponerlo Un Remedio Sustentable

Asociación Equipo Maíz San Salavador, El Salvador, 2000. 90 pp. Spanish language only. Document can be ordered from Ecumenical program on Central America and the Caribbean (EPICA), price $8.

English language synopsis: Taking Hurricane Mitch as its reference point, this popular education publication from El Salvador uses cartoons and simple text to explore the underlying causes of disasters. The text does not explicitly discuss gender issues, rather gender is ‘mainstreamed’ within all sections and the cartoons depict women undertaking activities usually stereotyped as male. The book aims to highlight that disasters are not ‘natural’ events focusing specifically on the relationship between environmental degradation - global, regional and national - and the impact of events such as hurricane Mitch. It examines processes of development and impoverishment in the Central American region, highlighting the differences between notions of ‘standard of living’ and ‘quality of life’ and introducing the concept of sustainable development. The final section suggests some actions necessary for ensuring ecological risk management at the community level. This publication (available in Spanish only) will be useful for anyone involved in popular education activities and engaged in working with communities and groups, both mixed sex and women’s groups, around disasters risk reduction and mitigation.

Key words: El Salvador, hurricane Mitch, community education, development, media

Kahandaan, Katatagan at Kaunlaran ng Komunidad: Gabay sa Pagsasanay sa Disaster Management A community disaster preparedness trainers' manual

Lorna P. Victoria, Center for Disaster Preparedness Foundation, Inc. Quezon City, Philippines, email:
2003. Language: Tagalog. ISBN: 971-92365-2-3. Available through CDP:

The Center for Disaster Preparedness Foundation, Inc. is located in the Philippines. They have taken materials produced for international and regional trainings and adapted these for use at the community level. To make the materials relevant, these manuals were written in Tagalog to enable community trainers in the Philippines to use the tools in their local communities, to make this work more accessible.

Key words: all hazards, community planning, vulnerability assessment, capacity building, training and education, Philippines, Asia

Emergency Health Training Programme for Africa

World Health Organization, Emergency Health Agency, 1999. Available through WHO:

The materials include a unit on Gender Issues and Emergency Management which presents basic information through overhead slides about sex, gender and gender relations and identifies gendered vulnerability factors and vital needs in emergencies as reflected in the gendered division of labor and related issues. Could easily be adapted and expanded for use in related trainings. For more information contact the PanAfrican Emergency Training Centre, Addis Ababa.

Key words: Africa, training, vulnerability analysis, emergency management, practice

Recruitment in Humanitarian Work

2 pp. April, 2004. Emily Rogers. Short article from an issue of the Oxfam newsletter Links that focuses on human resource issues in humanitarian relief work. The article describes Oxfam’s steps toward reducing traditional practices and policies leading to male dominance. This and other articles in this issue will interest others also working for more gender-fair employment patterns in relief work. Available from Oxfam.

Key words: relief agency, gender analysis, practice, mainstreaming, training

A man amongst men: can male gender trainers tip the balance?

2 pp. September 26, 2001. Milton Obote Joshua. Short summary from a review of gender and development training undertaken in East Africa and Kenya for a seminar on masculinities and development supported by the Economic and Social Research Council UK. Seven useful links are included to related work on men and gender in development work. Useful for trainers and researchers working on disaster and development issues.

Available through ID21 Society & Economy [Communicating Development Research]:

Key words: Africa, training

How to Mainstream Gender into Disaster Management and Responses - Addressing Gender Issues in Post-Tsunami Reconstruction

Practical Action (Formerly Intermediate Technology Development Group) Workshop Report, 2005. 22pp. Available through Practical Action (Formerly ITDG South Asia), #05, Lionel Edirisinghe Mawatha, Colombo 5. Sri Lanka. Email address:

The workshop was conducted by Practical Action (formerly ITDG South Asia) with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka for the benefit of bilateral donors, International agencies, NGOs and policy makers of the state agencies working on post-tsunami reconstruction. The report contains a selective gender profile in Sri Lanka which indicate the gender based issues and disparities in terms of demographic considerations, legal frameworks, poverty, extended conflict and violent tendencies, health, education, livelihoods and employment, and environment. In this backdrop critical gender issues in the tsunami aftermath, and ways and means of mainstreaming the same is discussed. The report highlights the absence or poor awareness and sensitivity on gender concerns reflected in post tsunami activities and interventions. Tsunami showcased existing gender based disparities in society. Women’s specific sanitary and biological needs, and the safety and security concerns were neglected, which resulted in serious implications for women and their families. Rising alcoholism in the displaced situation led to increased violence against women. Relief distribution and access was male dominated and biased. Existing institutional formworks and systems are insufficient to address gender based disparities in recovery. Post tsunami statistics, information and analysis barely contain gender analysis, leading to gender blind and inappropriate recovery panning and interventions which reinforce existing gender disparities and increase the vulnerabilities of women and other marginalised groups. The report contains a summary of the recommendations and an action plan to increase the gender awareness of the key agencies engaged in recovery and rehabilitation and to increase the gender sensitivity of the interventions.

Key words: Sri Lanka, gender profile, critical gender issues, legal frameworks, poverty, livelihoods, employment

National Geoscience Database of Iran

The National Geoscience Database of Iran provides the government of Iran’s training curriculum in disaster preparedness among others. The curriculum is available in both English and Farsi. The curriculum focuses on both the technological and the social and cultural dimensions of disaster preparedness. While not explicitly gender-sensitive, the approach lends itself to gender-sensitivity. Languages: Farsi and English. For more information:

Key words: Iran, training, preparedness, public awareness, education

Non-governmental organizations in the Islamic Republic of Iran: A situation analysis

The UNDP/Iran report 'Non-Governmental Organizations in the Islamic Republic of Iran: A situation analysis' is a useful resource for disaster managers. The book provides detailed information on five types of Iranian non-governmental organizations, one of which is women’s organizations. The organizations included have experience working in a wide-variety of sectors including natural disaster management.

Available through the UNDP:

Key words: Iran, NGO, womenís group

What do women's rights have to do with disaster management?

Updated Jun 29, 2005. Summary of AWID listserve discussion. “While the discussion participants noted numerous gendered affects of disasters, the most heated debate in this discussion focused on whether women truly experience disaster differently from men and whether gendered disaster analysis is necessary and beneficial.” An interesting discussion piece useful for trainers and others. Available through the Association for Women’s Human Rights in Development:

Key words: Women's group, gender analysis, men

Integrating Gender Into Emergency Responses

8 pp. Quarterly issue of Development and Gender In Brief from BRIDGE. Bridget Walker’s phrase “tyranny of the urgent” originates here, with related articles as well on coping with famine in Zaire, gender sensitivity in food distribution, and the rehabilitation of women following conflict in Eritrea. Like all issues of In Brief, these short, to the point, well-referenced pieces provide a good starting point for discussions of gender-fair policy and practice.

Available through Bridge:

Key words: Complex emergency, gender analysis, practice, cross hazard, development

Different impacts of the tsunami on men and women

FAO, 2005. 3 pp. Short report from FAO detailing some of the most significant gender patterns in the tsunami, especially regarding the division of labor. Offers short- and long-term interventions. Useful for training as a succinct statement of policy and practice issues arising here and likely to arise in future events. Available online:

Key words: Asia, gender, division of labour, impact, gender analysis, women, communities

Community Based Disaster Management: A Guide for Trainers

Knowledge Links Private Limited, Practical Action (Formerly ITDG-South Asia) and the Centre for Disaster Management, HCM Rajasthan State Institute of Public Administration.
Available from: Knowledge Links Pvt. Ltd., A10, Ground Floor, Kaushambi, Ghaziabad, U.P. India 201010, Tel: +91 120 2772728, Email: or; HCM Rajasthan State Institute of Public Administration, Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India 302017, Tel: +91 141 2706556, Email:; ITDG-South Asia, 5 Lionel Edirisinghe Mawatha, Kirulapone, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka, Tel: +94 11 2829412, Fax: +94 11 2856188. Email:

 This guidebook is largely based on a similar trainer’s guide prepared by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) Bangkok but has been adapted to ensure the training programme is responsive to participants within India. This guidebook is targeted at (practicing and prospective) trainers involved in training frontline workers in community-based approaches to disaster management. Although the guidebook is designed for formal training programmes, it can be used for guided learning at work. The guidebook is also of relevance to planners, researchers, field workers as reference material on issues related to community based management of natural disasters. The guidebook is structured into four module: Module 1: Getting Started; Module 2: Understanding Disasters and Ways to Manage Them; Module 3: Acquiring Skills to Work with Communities at Risk, and Module 4: Learning from Experience: A Perspective from South Asia. Material for the modules was derived from the Livelihood Options for Disaster Risk Reduction (LODRR) project (see reference). The training programme is designed to increase awareness on disaster situation in South Asia. It covers differentiation between various approaches to disaster management, identification of specifically vulnerable groups in the community with a specific course component on gender issues in disaster management, hazards, vulnerabilities, capacities, disaster risk, and the tools for their assessment. The training methodology includes presentations and interactive discussions, simulation and role plays, individual exercises, experiential learning, case studies, workshops, field visits, and group and individual critique and reflection. A copy of the training manual and contacts of trainers and resource people can be obtained from ITDG-South Asia. Courses are organised periodically by ITDG-South Asia, the Rural Development Policy Institute Pakistan, ADPC Bangkok and Knowledge Links New Delhi. The manual is available in Sinhalese, Tamil, Hindi and English.

Key words: India, CBDM, disasters, trainer/training manual, gender issues in disasters

Training Manual on Gender and Climate Change

Published by: IUCN, UNDP and GGCA                                                  Publication date: 2009

The training manual draws on existing in-house materials (research
data, analyses and extracts from international frameworks) that have been adapted or expanded but also includes newly compiled case studies to illustrate the concepts in each module. It presents key conceptual and methodological advances in gender relations in the context of climate change.

Includes case studies and an annotated bibliography of resources on climate change reference framework, energy, mitigation and adaptation, including portals and websites.

Downloadable from the IUCN website:

Key words: climate change, training, mitigation, adaptation, case study, energy, gender relations