Empowering Leaders for Saving Lives

Community leaders use an FH manual with nine tools for creating plans for saving lives.

Food for the Hungry (FH) is being recognized for innovation in helping vulnerable people. InterAction and FedEx selected FH as one of their top six candidates to receive the 2013 “The FedEx Award for Innovations in Disaster Preparedness.”  The award’s goal is to bring awareness to programs that are efficient and effective in saving lives and property in the face of disasters and hazards.

With FH providing disaster relief to countries for more than 40 years, our experts have experimented, noted, studied and applied relief techniques for saving lives. FH is being recognized for our Comunidades Resilientes program started in 2013 that empowers leaders to manage their own disaster response.  

Expert teachings empower leaders

For the Comunidades Resilientes program, FH staff organized and trained leaders in disaster risk reduction (DRR) practices in 15 marginalized communities in San Juan de Lurigancho (SJL) district in Peru’s capital city of Lima. DRR training empowered leaders and community members to identify potential hazards in their community and create a safety plan with local resources and partnerships. Because leaders owned this process and plan, their communities are more likely to implement it when disaster strikes.

With the homes of the SJL district set on steep hills and made up of plywood, aluminum and bricks – the people living in these homes are extremely vulnerable to landslides and damages from earthquakes. In this area of Peru for the last decade, three destructive earthquakes destroyed more than 80,000 homes.

Handing over the tools

To start the program, FH staff invited community leaders to attend DRR workshops. In these workshops, they learned skills for planning and about reducing destruction. Then community leaders were given a manual that included nine planning tools to create a customized disaster response plan.

Leaders use the first six tools to identify disaster risks and available resources in their communities. The last three tools identified goals and activities to reduce risks and develop community DRR plans.

Then, community leaders shared the plans with their entire communities. FH staff gives ongoing support as communities continue to carry out DRR activities, providing appropriate training, finances or linkages to local partners, like the Peruvian Red Cross.

Diomedes Isuiza, one of the community leaders from the SJL district, said, I and the other leaders of the community think that the DRR training we are going through with FH is very important for our community… Now with the DRR trainings, we are adding to our community development plan things to help protect our community and be prepared for disasters that could occur. As leaders, we have also realized that we need the involvement of the entire population, so we are working to involve as many as possible. This year we have about 80 percent of the community involved in different activities, and we hope to share with our community the things we are learning in the DRR workshops.”

Child sponsorship funds the program

DRR programs are a part of FH’s child-focused community transformation (CFCT) plans funded by child sponsorship. Through CFCT, communities are made into safe, thriving communities where children can survive and grow.

As community leaders learn better practices in safety, health, food stability, clean water and other areas, children grow up healthy, educated and posses the confidence and skill set to overcome poverty.Please join FH in offering vulnerable communities our expertise so they can learn to protect their homes and children.


About Renee Targos

Renee is a former journalist and editor for national arts and business publications. As a writer for Food for the Hungry, Renee explores and reports on the work and relationships of partners, FH staff and impoverished communities.

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