About the author
Kerstin is an ex logistics manager turned Red Cross executive volunteer. She loves horses, anything with chocolate in it and trees.
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In order to measure the impact of a project you have to know what the basis is. For our “Saving Lives in the Caribbean Through Prepardness” Disaster Risk Reduction project we worked on exactly that in the past weeks. In all the 14 communitites we did the so called “baseline” survey to measure how well prepared is ‘the’ community. In order to do that, 100 households per community get asked 32 questions. 32 Questions that I repeated for almost two weeks, every day in a row. 32 questions that follow you from breakfast to bed. And it takes quite a few days to recover and not think of
And the list goes on and on and on. The survey form was developed from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and is a great tool to cover all the areas that relate to peoples prepardness, knowledge and available support.
Conducting those hundreds of surveys needs a strong volunteer support. We are lucky that we got some great volunteers that helped us out with this task. On the one hand we had experienced volunteers, that are so called NITs (part of the “National Intervention Team” that assists in national disasters). These ladies are always available for Red Cross work although they live outside the city districts and have to take a long busride to reach the city. On the other hand, we got support from students from local universities. Before we started I gave presentations on “Volunteering with the Red Cross” (7 fundamental principles, no cursing/fighting/politics/religion stuff while wearing the emblem, what we do etc.) as well as the project itself.
In the field it was quite interesting. We went from houses that are hardly hold together by a few nails and some zink walls to fine concrete houses with 3+ floors. One thing 90% of them had in common: DOGs. Big dogs, small dogs, dirty dogs, injured dogs, dogs with an iguana tail for lunch, dead dogs, smelly dogs and nonstop-barking-at-anything dogs. Most people have not one but at least three of them. And to quote our friend John “The dogs are there to bark, and that’s what they do.” . I recommend to read his blogpost about dogs in Belize in full to get a better understanding. Anyway. We continued our mission through the communities, ignoring 300 pound pitbulls giving their two cents to the surveys.
Other than than asking the wonderful 32 questions again and again and again, I was busy with the daily organisation. From cursing because of people being late over making sure everybody gets a lunch meal, water and a juice (standard Belizean lunch), signing attendance sheets, taking pictures, checking maps, organising teams and making sure everybody is happy (and not eaten by a stray dog, crocodile or huge pothole), counting survey forms over and over again, cleaning out the car and preparing the next day.
The evaluation for all the communities is still going on. Not surprisingly the mayor concerns are hurricane and flood related in all the communities. The level of prepardness and knowledge is way different from community to community and even varys within single communities.
My lessons learned:
For me it was a great experience to get to know the communities better. Meeting the people, seeing the different houses, wondering (e.g. why would somebody in a quite fine neighbourhood keep a cow chained to a trailer on the concrete sidewalk with nothing to eat and drink?!) and advocating the project. The next step will be community meetings to inform the mayority (more likely those people interested in disaster prepardness that have nothing better to do that evening…) about the project, asking for their support and getting the communities ready, not only for the soon-to-be-here hurricane season.