“I participate; you participate; he participates, we participate; you participate…they profit” – How Participatory is Participatory Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Planning? A Review of Community Based DRRMP Manuals

“I participate; you participate; he participates, we participate; you participate…they profit” –

How Participatory is Participatory Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Planning?

A Review of Community Based DRRMP Manuals

by En.P. Francis Josef C. Gasgonia, PIEP

This paper attempted to classify 4 different documents related to Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Planning according to their level of Citizen Participation based on Sherry Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation and in assessing the content of these documents for Key Elements to CBDRRM. The documents reviewed for this paper were assessed using a matrix guide developed for this research. 2 local and 2 international documents were used; the National DRRM Education and Training Program – Five (5) Day CBDRRM Training of Trainers (CBDRRM-TOT) & Kahandaan, Katatagan at Kaunlaran ng Komunidad: Gabay sa Pagsasanay sa Disaster Risk Management, and VCA Toolbox, & All In Diary, respectively. It was determined that all four documents have all the key elements present in the content of their training modules or toolkit, except for the NDRRMC program that was unable to directly link DRR methodologies in national development. There are varying degrees to how the key elements on each document were emphasized as with their levels of participation. Additional research is recommended on how these documents were used by DRRM professionals and humanitarian workers to establish training tool and methodology effectiveness.


Keywords: Participatory Planning, Citizen Participation, Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Planning, Elements of CBDRRM



Addressing the needs of the population to mitigate, prepare and respond for the effects of hazards, the government enacted into law (RA 10121, 2009) An Act Strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System, Providing for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Framework and Institutionalizing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan, Section 4 of this Act provides for the development of policies and plans and the implementation of actions and measures pertaining to all aspects of disaster risk reduction and management, including good governance, risk assessment and early warning, knowledge building and awareness raising, reducing underlying risk factors, and preparedness for effective response and early recovery. This follows aligning of investment programs in social services, settlements, and infrastructure for local government units. The Laws mentioned are important in reflection to the study of resiliency at the smallest body-politic in the Philippines.


In this regard, Environmental Stability and Ecological Integrity were also integrated into the National Framework for Physical Planning: 2001-2030. The Framework has dutifully defined the importance of understanding and managing environmental impacts; wherein the growth and development of settlements have adverse impacts on the physical environment. As stated in the NFPP, given current urbanization trends, and as recent studies have shown, developing countries such as Philippines may expect or are already experiencing a shift in the type of environmental problems that need the most attention. Physical planners need to be aware and prepared to deal with this shift, which is from natural resource-based type of problems to those dealing primarily with urbanization and industrialization- industrial pollution, vehicular emission, encroachment into disaster prone areas, sanitation and health problems, caused by the lack of water supply, sewerage, and waste disposal services, and even erosion of cultural / historical resources. These may reduced or mitigated by (a)delineating land available for or restricted from settlement expansion, (b) identification and management of environmentally critical areas, (c) matching of land uses and densities with environmental and service infrastructure capacities, and (d) encouraging appropriately planned mixed use development, transit use, pedestrianization, and cultural/ histrorical preservation in large urban centers (National Economic and Development Authority, 2003)


The occurrence of weather and climate-related natural disasters in the Philippines in the last two decades has increased and the monetized direct damages caused by them have been substantial (Israel, 2010) Mitigating the negative impacts of this disasters require sufficient monetary investment for capability building of professionals and for infrastructure development. A few of the recommendations from the Policy Notes of Israel also states fundamental investments and coordination of movements and policies and programs with other stakeholders; the following are some of the conclusions and recommendations from this brief report: (1) Investment in the necessary equipment, facilities, and technology to effectively monitor, analyze, transmit, and disseminate NMH data and information. (2) Recruitment and training of the necessary personnel for the generation, computation, and dissemination of NMHS data and information; (3) Active involvement of all stakeholders including the local government units (LGUs), private sector, and citizenry for a holistic and multisectoral NMHS; (4) Inclusion of all possible forms of damages in the computation, including both direct and indirect economic, social environmental and other forms of damages; (5) Mainstreaming of weather and climate-related issues into national and local economic development planning and implementation.

The findings of the Israel PIDS report correlates to the need for further study on infrastructure and staff capability in determining resiliency. With Typhoon Ondoy causing massive flooding in the Metro, it became the tipping point for government in noticing the inadequate equipment, infrastructure, and staff training required in providing information crucial in disaster preparedness.


Following the increase in extreme weather events attributed to Climate related shifts occurring recently, the government in response passed Republic Act 9729 otherwise known as the Climate Change Act of 2009. Under its declaration of policy, government recognized “that climate change and disaster risk reduction are closely interrelated and effective disaster reduction will enhance climate change adaptive capacity, the State shall integrate disaster risk reduction into climate change programs and initiatives…it is hereby declared the policy of the State to systematically integrate the concept of climate change in various phases of policy formulation, development plans, poverty reduction strategies and other development tools and techniques by all agencies and instrumentalities of the government.” (Climate Change Commission, 2010)


In addition, the People’s Survival Fund was enacted through Republic Act 10174 amending RA 9729 or the Climate Change Act of 2009. Sec. 18 (Republic of the Philippines, 2012) “A People’s Survival Fund (PSF) is hereby established as a special fund in the national treasury for the financing of adaptation programs an projects based on the National Strategic Framework…Sec. 20. Uses of the Fund. – The fund shall be used to support adaptation activities of local governments and communities such as, but not limited to, the following…” This said the laws, RA 10174, RA 9729, and RA 10121 are the three basic laws that sets the agenda for a more resilient nation that encourages participation from the community up to the highest level of government administration. This is why it is important to question now how participatory are the methodologies in disaster risk reduction management as followed by the different frameworks and manuals of multiple organizations in both the public and not for profit sector. Also, a clear picture of what is and who are at risk, and the availability of resources and capacities to mitigate these natural hazards, provides a solid basis for planning DRR (Cadag, 2012).


This paper attempts to examine the participation level of different training methodologies by organizations providing community based disaster risk reduction and management manuals using Sherry Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation and the Key Elements of CBDM by Lorna Victoria from the Center of Disaster Preparedness. For the purpose of this paper, participatory is used as the level of participation as defined by (Arnstein, 1969) as a means of access to decision making by direct citizen participation; and community based as a people centered initiative from the citizens of a small group of people working towards similar goals; and disaster risk reduction and management as a holistic social and technical tool in reducing vulnerabilities, exposure to hazards, and improving capacities against natural and human induced hazards. Further, (Gaillard, 2012) also suggest that DRR should be inclusive rather than exclusive. Inclusive means (1) recognizing that different forms of knowledge are valuable in addressing disaster risk, (2) that actions at different scales, from the top down and from the bottom up, are necessary to reduce the risk of disaster in a sustainable manner, and (3) that both previous points require a large array of stakeholders operating across different scales to collaborate.


This study uses Document Review for its data collection and analysis method. Document review is a way of collecting data by reviewing existing documents. The documents may be internal to a program or organization or may be external. Documents may be hard copy or electronic and may include reports, program logs, performance ratings, funding proposals, meeting minutes, newsletters, etc. (Center for Disease Control, 2009) The research is only limited to a review of manuals available in the public domain due to limitations in time and access to materials in the duration of writing this paper.


The research is significant for disaster studies researchers and humanitarian practitioners because it has brought into light a critical assessment of technical training manuals of disaster risk reduction and management on how it engages targeted participants in capacity building at the community level. Since resiliency of communities begin at the individual level of citizen participation, the study examines this level of participation through the methodologies itemed in each training manual. Then the paper also attempts to determine if key elements of CBDM practice are inherent in each document.

Eight Rungs on the Ladder of Citizen Participation


In 1969, Sherry R. Arnstein, the Director of Community Development Studies for The Commons, a non-profit research institute in Washinton, D.C. wrote an article for the Journal of American Institute of Planners the Eight Rungs on the Ladder of Citizen Participation. ‘Je participe; vous participez ; il participe , nous participons ; vous participez … ils profitent (“I participate; you participate; he participates, we participate; you participate…they profit”) taken from a French student poster as an example by Sherry R. Arnstein’s Eight Rungs on the Ladder of Citizen Participation. (Arnstein, 1969) The eight types of citizen participation developed by Arnstein is an essential framework to understand how community participatory are the methods espoused in community based disaster risk reduction and management planning manuals propagated by different government, non-government, and international organizations.

The following are the typology of eight levels of participation by Sherry Arnstein: at the bottom level that is clearly nonparticipation are (1) Manipulation and (2) Therapy. These two are complete substitute from citizen participation. The real purpose of this type of non-participation is a one way exchange of information ‘to educate or cure’ the recipient by the power holder. It does not promote or enable the community from any participation. On steps (3), (4), and (5) are Informing, Consultation, and Placation respectively. In this rung, participation of the community is given a voice. However, the community does not have the guarantee of having their views taken into consideration by decision makers. This is an important aspect of Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Planning. Decisions that would affect the lives of the community must be considered on all aspects of the plan; from prevention & mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation. Further, (Arnstein, 1969) said that “When participation is restricted to these levels, there is no followthrough, no ‘muscle’…” Placation, the fifth rung on the ladder is not yet participatory since decision making is still not yet at the hands of the community, only advisory. Degrees of Citizen Power; Partnership, Delegated power, and Citizen control are rungs (6), (7), and (8) respectively. Citizens or the community in question can enter into negotiated partnerships with decision makers, while at the top most rung where citizens can have full decision making power are in Delegated Power and Citizen Control. Later on we will attempt to determine how training frameworks in different manuals preach community participation.


Arnstein also provided the limitations of the typology “It should be noted that the typology does not include an analysis of the most significant roadblocks to achieving genuine levels of participation. These roadblocks lie on both side of the simplistic fence…In the real world of people and programs, there might be 150 rungs with less sharp and pure distinctions among them.” (Arnstein, 1969) Although the typology is general in nature, it does help researchers to have a pivot point to understand training methodologies for our purposes in Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Planning.


Community Based Disaster Risk Practices in the Philippines


Back in 2002, the Director of the Center for Disaster Preparedness wrote a research paper, Community Based Disaster Management in the Philippines: Making a Difference in People’s Lives (Victoria). The paper pointed out the key elements of Community Based Disaster Management on the context of Philippine practice. The following elements are as follows:


people’s participation – community members are the main actors and propellers; while sustaining the CBDM process, they also directly share in the benefits of disaster preparedness, mitigation and development.

Priority for the most vulnerable groups, families, and people in the community – in the urban areas the most vulnerable sectors are generally the urban poor and informal sector while in the rural areas, these are the subsistence farmers, fisherfolk, an indigenous people; also more vulnerable are the elderly, the differently abled, children and women.

Risk reduction measures are community-specific and are identified after an analysis of the community’s disaster risk (because of their care giving and social function roles)

Existing coping mechanisms and capacities are recognized –CBDM builds upon and strengthens existing coping strategies and capacities; most common social/organizational values and mechanism are cooperation, community/people’s organizations, and local knowledge and resources.

The aim is to reduce vulnerabilities by strengthening capacities; the goal is building disaster resilient communities

Links disaster risk reduction with development – addresses vulnerable conditions and causes of vulnerabilities

Outsiders have supporting and facilitating role –NGOs have supporting, facilitating and catalytic role, but while NGOs should plan for phase-out, government’s role is integral to enable and institutionalize the CBDM process; partnerships with less vulnerable groups and other communities.”


These elements are key in our understanding of scoping through the different disaster risk reduction and management manuals and putting them under the scrutiny of qualitative content analysis. For one, people’s participation as mentioned in Arnstein’s article is fundamental in the empowerment of a community to make decisions that would affect their lives and property, in reference to disaster resiliency. As each organization has sometimes its own specialized target stakeholder group to serve, a good CBDM should at least consider the participation of a priority vulnerable group especially the marginalized, children, and women. This follows the importance of having solutions for risk reduction based on the context of a community through a participatory vulnerability and capacity assessment. Once the strengths and weaknesses of the community are known, it is best to improve on those strengths and counter weaknesses through the cooperation of the community. And, it is also vital to look into how methods in disaster risk reduction integrate into development planning as a means to reduce vulnerabilities of communities and in support, other stakeholders like NGOs would take a facilitating role and not as a lead role in developing the community’s resiliency profile.

Reading between the Lines


Table 1 Citizen Participation and Key Element Matrix Guide



Citizen Participation Priority for Vulnerable Groups Community Specific Risk Reduction Coping Mechanisms Recognized Strengthening Capacities DRR Links with Development Outsiders Support Role


The table above was used as a matrix guide in the document review. Column A is for writing down the name of the document under review, the institution that made the document, and other information related to the production or use of the document. Column B is where the level of Citizen Participation will be placed based on Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation. Columns C to H are the Key Elements of CBDM according to the CDP report. The document review qualitatively looked at the presence of a framework or principle of the key elements in the document under scrutiny. Then these elements were either confirmed or not.




Four documents were assessed using the matrix guide above. 2 local and 2 international documents were used; the National DRRM Education and Training Program – Five (5) Day CBDRRM Training of Trainers (CBDRRM-TOT) & Kahandaan, Katatagan at Kaunlaran ng Komunidad: Gabay sa Pagsasanay sa Disaster Risk Management, and VCA Toolbox, & All In Diary, respectively. It was determined that the local documents’ level of citizen participation were both at rung 7 (Delegated Power/ Citizen Power) while the international documents were at rung 8 and 4, for VCA and All In Diary; respectively. The local documents were explicit in referring to a community based, grassroots level participation of citizens in disaster risk reduction, citing provisions of the law on RA 10121 that Barangay level preparedness should be a priority. While VCA is at level 8 due to its comprehensive toolkit for empowering communities Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments that could lead to a more informed and resilient community against multi-hazards. Although the All In Diary was at level 4, this was due to the nature of this document as a consultative guidebook for humanitarian workers. It is full of useful information that can complement the other 3 documents. Moreover, all four documents could be integrated as one training tool kit. (Refer to Annex A for selected observations and excerpts)


All four documents have all the key elements present in the content of their training modules or toolkit, except for the NDRRMC program that was unable to directly link DRR methodologies in national development. There are varying degrees to how the key elements on each document were emphasized. The VCA document focused on Community Specific Risk Reduction, the All In Diary has a lot of information on other support roles provided by different agencies, the CDP manual has dedicated sessions on strengthening capacities, and the NDRRMC program has generally captured basic CBDRRM elements.

Closing Remarks & Recommendations


The assessment conducted provided a general overview of how different training documents on Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management have similar characteristics also different levels of engagement and specialization. This paper did not show how one manual is better than the other, rather it shows the possibility of integrating these tools for a better resilient focused training for the community. Further, ground validation on the application of these manuals should be conducted by future researchers to answer questions on training effectiveness, the strength of tools and methodologies in community based drrm planning. Looking back at past communities that were given with these documents and how they used them would be useful in improving disaster education methods and in evaluating training methodologies at their level of engagement in participatory planning.


Arnstein, S. R. (1969, July). A Ladder of Citizen Participation. Retrieved November 29, 2015, from http://lithgow-schmidt.dk/sherry-arnstein/ladder-of-citizen-participation.pdf

Cadag, J. R. (2012). Integrating Knowledge and Actions in Disaster Risk Reduction: The Contribution of Participatory Mapping. Royal Geographical Society , 100-109.

Center for Disease Control. (2009, January). Evaluation Brief. Retrieved November 29, 2015, from cdc.gov: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/evaluation/pdf/brief18.pdf

Climate Change Commission. (2010). Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9729. Manila: Malacanan Palace.

Gaillard, J. &. (2012). From Knowledge to Action: Bridging Gaps in Disaster Risk Reduction. Progress in Human Geography , 1-22.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. (2007). VCA Toolbox with Reference Sheets. Geneva: IFRC.

Israel, D. C. (2010). Policy Notes: Weather and climate-related disasters: the cost of inaction. Makati: Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

National Economic and Development Authority. (2003). National Framework for Physical Planning (NFPP). Pasig: NEDA.

Office of Civil Defense. (2013). The National DRRM Education and Training Program. Quezon City: National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Price, Gill; & Richardson, Linda. (2014). All In Diary (4th Edition ed.). Edinburgh: All In Diary.

RA 10121. (2009). Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010. Manila: 14th Congress.

Republic of the Philippines. (2012, August 16). Republic Act No 10174. Retrieved November 29, 2015, from http://www.gov.ph: http://www.gov.ph/2012/08/16/republic-act-no-10174/

Victoria, L. P. (n.d.). Community Based Disaster Management in the Philippines: Makin a Difference in People’s Lives.

Victoria, L. P., & Luneta, M. D. Kahandaan, Katatagan at Kaunlaran ng Komunidad (2nd Edition ed.). Quezon City: Center for Disaster Preparedness.


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