Project

Writing community-based, disaster risk reduction plans in USVI and PR

Goal: To develop community-based plans for protecting vulnerable populations from hurricanes BEFORE they strike in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

Date: 31 December 2018 - 29 April 2020

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Project log

Mark Edward Keim
added an update
I. ABSTRACT
OBJECTIVE: Plan to Protect, an innovative planning model for disaster risk reduction (DRR), builds capacity among local stakeholders to engage in community-based planning to prevent hurricane-related deaths and injuries. The pilot project was designed to evaluate and improve upon the model in order to replicate it at a larger scale.
METHODS: A core team developed a project work plan, performed a risk assessment, inventoried capabilities, identified community stakeholders, populated a plan template, and planned and hosted community workshops. The evaluation plan employed a mixed-methods approach to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation strategy in achieving the desired short-term outputs and outcomes as well as the satisfaction of stakeholders with the planning process.
RESULTS: The core team successfully met process and short-term outcome objectives in each community: (1) conducted a risk assessment to identify the hazards, capabilities, and vulnerabilities, (2) performed community outreach and engagement to increase awareness of the project goals and activities, and (3) engaged stakeholders from the pilot municipalities in a generating plans through a place-based, consensus-based process. In general, the stakeholders reported that they understood the concept of DRR, expressed satisfaction with the consensus-based process, and found the project valuable for their families, communities, and professional networks.
DISCUSSION: Plan to Protect seeks to operationalize a number of guiding principles and frameworks, including collective community planning, unified emergency management theories, organizational resilience, change leadership, and community engagement. While the pilot project was successful, replicating the model at scale with fidelity and good effect requires additional work to establish clear implementation guidance.
RECOMMENDATIONS: The designers must (1) codify the implementation of the model, (2) synchronize implementation with community readiness, (3) cultivate the implementation capacity of the core team, and (4) facilitate project hand-off.
Laura Runnels December 31, 2019
 
Mark Edward Keim
added a research item
Survey of Exercise Implementers The exercise was actively observed by eight separate individuals that performed the following functions for implementing the tabletop exercise: • 1 Exercise facilitator from DisasterDoc • 1 Exercise controller from Harvard • 2 Exercise evaluators o one from CDC o one from onaLARC™ consulting • 1 Exercise Logistician from DisasterDoc • 1 CDC Lead Technical Advisor and 1 senior public health advisor • 2 staff members from the PRDOH One week following the exercise, the above-listed 8 individuals were surveyed regarding their perceptions of community readiness for public health intervention in both municipalities. 7 out of the 8 evaluators were available to respond (response rate = 87.5%). Respondents first answered 4 multiple choice questions regarding levels of overall readiness in both Humacao and Utuado before and after the tabletop exercise. They were then asked to score (using a 5-point Likert scale) various factors related to readiness (e.g. knowledge, behavior, attitudes and resources) for both the community and municipal leadership; and for both before and after the tabletop intervention. Means were calculated for the group response. Survey of Exercise Participants At the end of the exercise, all participants were asked to complete a brief one-page questionnaire regarding their impressions of the exercise. The questionnaire included questions related to their level of agreement with the following statements: Exercise Objectives • Community members demonstrated that they are aware of hurricane-related health risk in the municipality • Community members demonstrated that they can apply a community-based disaster reduction plan • Community members demonstrated that they can participate in a community-based disaster reduction exercise Exercise Organization • The exercise was well organized Exercise Communication • The material was easy to understand • I felt that my input was welcome • I have a good understanding the project Exercise Relevance • Parts of the event were most useful Project Stakeholdership • Participant level of support for this project, in general Means were then calculated on a 5-point scale for each query.
Mark Edward Keim
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A risk assessment was completed in 2 communities (Utuado and Humacao) for hurricane related hazards such as: coastal flooding, inland flooding, landslides and high winds.
 
Mark Edward Keim
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The community participated in a tabletop exercise of the new plan.
 
Mark Edward Keim
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The community participated in a tabletop exercise
 
Mark Edward Keim
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Twelve federal, territorial and local agencies joined with local churches, non-profits and community members joined together to write a 63-page plan for protecting persons under 5 years old and over 65 years old BEFORE the hurricane strikes. The entire plan was written in only 12 hours.
 
Mark Edward Keim
added an update
Over 24 federal, territorial and local agencies joined with local churches, non-profits and community members joined together to write a 63-page plan for protecting persons under 5 years old and over 65 years old BEFORE the hurricane strikes.
The entire plan was written in only 12 hours. The community also took 6 hours to perform a tabletop exercise.
 
Mark Edward Keim
added a research item
This presentation describes the principles of disaster risk reduction as applied to this project
Mark Edward Keim
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This pilot project is intended to reduce hurricane-related deaths in 3 target communities of US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by preventing illness and injuries before it happens. These communities will write and exercise protection plans for those most vulnerable in the community (age < 5 and >65). To date there have been few interventions in the US that apply a community-based approach intended to prevent future disaster-related mortality.
Mark Edward Keim
added a project goal
To develop community-based plans for protecting vulnerable populations from hurricanes BEFORE they strike in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico