From East to West: Guadalcanal Communities Engage with Oxfam in Cross Learning Training for Disaster Risk Management

Oxfam AP-LIFT Coordinator Rex Solo, second left, with the eight community-based facilitators.

Community representatives from East Guadalcanal have taken a step further in their engagement with Oxfam Solomon Islands’ Asia Pacific Local Innovation for Transformation (AP-LIFT) project, emerging as facilitators for a disaster risk management training for communities in West Guadalcanal.

An eight member team from Niubirao, Tumurora and Ngalimera villages in East Guadalcanal travelled to the western part of the province last week to facilitate the training that was held for coastal villages of Tasiloki and Hulavu. The training will continue this week in Lambi and in Kokona next week.

The training is part of Oxfam’s ongoing cross-learning exercise for communities in Guadalcanal on Community-based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) under the AP-LIFT project in partnership with the Solomon Islands Development Trust and the Guadalcanal Provincial Government.

The event however marks the first time engagement of community-based facilitators with the Oxfam AP-LIFT project.

These facilitators gained the knowledge during the first phase of the project that was implemented in their communities from 2015 to 2017 known as Kwik Taim Baons Baek.

Joining the three days training, Oxfam AP-LIFT Project Coordinator Rex Solo says the cross-learning engagement of the local facilitators also measures the progress of the project – particularly with communities in East Guadalcanal who’ve been involved since 2015.

Introduction of the AP-LIFT project for communities in West Guadalcanal started in mid-2018. Rex says the results have been interesting over the course of the three days.

“The CBDRM training which the facilitators attended three weeks ago enabled them to facilitate

training with confidence. Also it enabled them to present the training in a very simple and meaningful way with the four partner communities which is something I am proud of,” says Rex Prior to the CBDRM training, the facilitators went through training together.

The CBDRM training has enabled these communities to build their own disaster preparedness tools such as seasonal calendars, historical timeline, vulnerability and risk assessment.

“I’ve never stood up in front of an audience before and take lead in any training, so while this is a very new experience, it is also a learning step for me,” says Benedict Garimane, 32, of Ngalimera village in East Guadalcanal.

Jonah Hau of Niubirao village, is one of the more experienced in the team from East Guadalcanal. The 57-year-old has been engaged with the AP-LIFT project since 2015 and is happy to share his experience.

“This same training, once upon a time was carried out at our village three years ago. Now we’re doing it for the people here in West Guadalcanal. As a facilitator I’m happy to transfer these knowledge and savvy to the people here.”

Ileen Suara Maedola, 47, of Lambi village in West Guadalcanal says this is the first time her community will have proper preparedness tools.

“Our community have never had this kind of training before although I’m confident that our community will grasp on to these preparedness skills as it is something that will be beneficial to all of us.

“This was a very good initiative, to bring over those from East [Guadalcanal] to share with us their knowledge and understanding of how they deal with disaster preparedness. From our interactions, we know that we deal with these issues very similarly.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Lambi chief Simon Pagini says he would like to see the engagement of more communities in West Guadalcanal in these disaster preparedness programs.

Simon applauded the CBDRM training adding that it is very similar to some of their ancient practices that have been lost such as having a seasonal calendar and vulnerability and risk assessments.

These practices he says were done traditionally. He explained an example of this is how people are making their gardens on lowlands, whereas before, gardens were made on higher grounds.

“Nowadays Climate Change have changed a lot of things including the seasons too. Among that, many other things have changed as well,” said the chief.

“I’m happy that our people are getting these trainings and advice to be well prepared for these times.” The CBDRM is one of many activities carried out with communities in Guadalcanal province under the Oxfam AP-LIFT Project. Other initiatives also include the establishment of a savings club that will be followed by many more activities in the coming months.