Making Time for Learning: Good Practices from Trócaire’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Humanitarian Work in Guatemala

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Learning Good Practices from Trócaire’s Disaster Risk Reduction Work in Guatemala

Alejandra Guillot and Alexandra T. Warner

Guatemala is in constant movement. Its tectonic plates, weather patterns, expanding dry areas and migration trends make it a volatile and shifting context. One could easily get lost, rushing from one disaster to the next.

However, Trócaire's humanitarian and disaster risk reduction team has developed a strong culture of learning and knowledge exchange with its partners and collaborators, allowing it to better prepare for natural disasters and reduce risks.

The myriad of natural threats that Guatemala faces are exacerbated by climate change and a number of structural issues: extreme poverty, gender inequalities, abuses by extractive industries, human rights violations and power imbalances inherited from the country's colonial past.

For the past few years, Trócaire's humanitarian and disaster risk reduction (DRR) team in Guatemala has worked on different fronts to reduce communities' vulnerabilities and strengthen their ability to bounce back from shocks.

This has included everything from responding and preparing for droughts, to monitoring river levels to decrease the negative impacts of floods, from assisting migrants in transit, to promoting earthquake-resistant construction practices.

So we've developed a case study which documents three examples of Trócaire's work in Guatemala where learning, partnership and collaboration were brought together to achieve better quality results for the communities we serve.

Good practices for establishing a learning culture

  • Work with partners who have a strong presence in local communities and have a deep understanding of communities' needs and capacities, beyond specific project focus areas.
  • Promote flexible projects to be able to adapt to changing contexts and seize opportunities.
  • Build and nurture good relationships with partners, academics, representatives from government institutions and professional associations.
  • Create links between actors to promote collaboration beyond Trócaire's programmes and without Trócaire's facilitation.
  • Strengthen the capacities of partners, so that they can create and maintain these linkages.
  • Use simple technology to facilitate unhindered communication between actors, including the community.
  • Use projects to gather reputable, scientific evidence that can serve for advocacy activities.
  • Work with academics to help facilitate experimentation and innovation.
  • Support policy makers in the development of policies, guidance and tools that they can later disseminate or bring to scale on their own.
  • Identify means of actively involving communities in innovative projects to build ownership.