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Community stories of resilience building in ASEAN: Strengthening community resilience through peer-to-peer learning

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Introduction

ASEAN’s Vision for a Resilient Future

ASEAN’s Declaration on Institutionalizing the Resilience of ASEAN and its Communities and Peoples to Disasters and Climate Change recognizes that the region is vulnerable to more frequent and severe disasters due to the rapid rise of natural hazards, extreme weather events, and the impacts of climate change. The declaration refers to a “new normal” which is exacting a tremendous toll on the economic, social, cultural, physical, and environmental capital of countries and communities, which can in turn stifle the region’s sustainable development and efforts toward poverty eradication. ASEAN has therefore embraced a broad and inclusive vision of resilience that sets out to achieve “a more resilient future by reducing existing disaster and climate-related risks, preventing the generation of new risks, and adapting to a changing climate through the implementation of economic, social, cultural, physical, and environmental measures which address exposure and vulnerability, and thus strengthen resilience.” This vision is underpinned by a wider commitment to “promote development that is transformative, inclusive, adaptive and sustainable, where peoples and communities thrive in peace and prosperity as envisioned in the ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision.”

Learning from situated practice and good practice

The Strengthening Community Resilience through Peerto-Peer Learning Project took its inspiration from ASEAN’s vision. The project focused on communities and the actions that they are taking to enhance their resilience.

The case studies presented here were gathered through four learning journeys that took place in the project’s focus countries: Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The learning journeys brought together community leaders who formed a group of ‘core peer learners’ who visited and learnt from other communities where women and men are working together and with government agencies, civil society groups and the private sector to enhance their own resilience.

Each study describes the situated practice of the community visited and sets out current good practice drawing on existing literature and is linked to a relevant priority programme of the AADMER Work Programme 2016– 2020 (Table 1). Together, the studies comprise a set of community-led initiatives that, with ASEAN’s continued support, can enable the region to achieve its inclusive vision of resilience.

Peer to peer learning

It is well established that learning is a critical component of resilient systems: “the most resilient systems are characterized by their capacity to learn and adjust, their ability to reorganize after disruption, and their retention of fundamental structure and function in the face of system stress.” And the importance of learning in responding to the challenges of disasters and climate change is reflected in the emphasis placed on learning and innovation in the AADMER Work Programme, in priority programmes one, three, and eight.

Peer-to-peer learning is about people learning with and from each other as equals. It includes the sharing of existing knowledge and the co-creation of new knowledge.

It is a collective process that connects individuals to each other and helps to build new and enrich existing networks. As an approach to learning, it embodies ASEAN’s collaborative approach. It also effectively enhances resilience by building knowledge whilst increasing the capacity of people to take innovative action by adapting approaches that work in one context to new contexts.

Collaboration is a theme of all the stories presented here—collaboration in communities and with local governments, municipalities, the private sector, international and national civil society organizations, and community groups. As a resilient community may be defined as a community that is able to respond to unexpected and unwelcomed events in ways that enable groups and individuals to work together,4 peer-to-peer learning that supports working together is a valuable strategy for enhancing resilience.

Each case study includes these elements:

  • A section describing the situated practice of resilience by a community,

  • An overview of relevant good practice drawing from existing literature,

  • A conclusion that outlines key lessons and highlights ways the good practices can contribute to the AADMER Work Programme, and

  • Recommendations for the scale-up of the good practice.

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