Driving community-led change
The world’s most vulnerable people often live in fragile and conflict-affected states. For example, communities in Myanmar face a plethora of challenges which affect their everday lives - this includes health risks such as COVID-19, climate risks including frequent flooding, storms and landslides and of course risks associated with the heightened conflict (including conflict with the military, between religious groups and intra-communal conflict), all of which impact livelihoods and severely restrict access to basic services. In order to address these risks, ongoing provision of humanitarian aid cannot be the sole answer. A new approach is needed, one which recognises the need for humanitarian support, but integrates root causes of instability in the solutions and strengthens communities to find a way forward for themselves. This project is taking just such an approach.
To date, Christian Aid, and other agencies working in Myanmar have tended to focus on targeted interventions with a single area of focus (e.g. health, economic empowerment, conflict resolution or humanitarian response) to address a very specific need. However increasingly we are seeing that in conflict situations, a more holistic approach may work better in achieving long-term change - one which puts the communities themselves in the driving seat, empowering them to identifying the full range of risks, opportunities and solutions available to them. This is a well-used approach in non-conflict environments, but in the context of a long-term conflict, it offers an exciting way forward, one which moves communities from being passive recipients of humanitarian aid and instead firmly focuses on promoting the inherent dignity of the communities we serve.
Our aim through this project is to ensure that communities are better able to understand and exercise their rights. They are better able to meet their needs, earn money, access health services and threats to women and girls are lessened. Through community action and discussion the aim is that there will more trust and less dependency on others. Ultimately by the end of the project these communities will have the knowledge, skills and structures in place to be able to manage and mitigate risks in future, an approach to empowerment which can then be replicated elsewhere in Myanmar and other long-term conflict scenarios.
Participatory Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (PVCA)
Christian Aid aims to change the lives of some of the world’s poorest people by helping them to challenge the big issues that keep them in poverty and to move them out of this situation by shifting the balance of power. We want to see poor people using their capacities to tackle the main factors that keep them poor and marginalised. To be able to support this process, we must first understand the change communities want and how this change can happen. A Participatory Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (PVCA) empowers communities facing poverty, inequality and injustice, to analyse their problems and suggest their own solutions.
In this project we are carrying out this process with these communities in Myanmar for the first time, helping them to -
- identify the key vulnerabilities they face
- understand how community members perceive risks and threats to their lives and livelihoods
- analyse the resources and strategies available
- help the community develop an action plan and to make informed decisions about their future
PVCA is an empowering tool that gives vulnerable communities a chance to organise themselves and take the future into their own hands. It also assists Christian Aid and partners to be more transparent and accountable in our delivery and more sustainable in our approach through the building of stronger more empowered communities.
General project update
Alongside our PCVA sessions, the team have also -
- Undertaken initial baseline data collection to get a clear view of the current situation and to accurately track the change the project makes
- Held introductory meetings with village authorities, management committees of camps for internally displaced people and religious leaders, all of whom have a role in the success of this project and are vocally in support of the project's aims
- Recruited project volunteers within communities and developed six community-based task forces. These task forces already addressing one of the most pressing risks - COVID-19. Public health training has been undertaken on COVID-19 transmission, prevention, and ways to maintain nutrition during the pandemic.