At least 30 officials, drawn from National Housing Authority (NHA), various government agencies, organizations, and slum communities, are attending a 5-day (January 21-25) Participatory Approach for Safe Shelter Awareness (PASSA) training workshop at the NHA conference room in Monrovia.
Two international consultants are in the country to facilitate and guide the training process. They are Mario Flores, Director for Disaster Risk Response at Habitat and Maria D. Calzadilla from the International Federation of the Red Cross.
The workshop is part of Habitat for Humanity International’s Institutional Capacity Building effort under the project ‘Facilitating increased access to affordable housing for low-income households through inclusive market approach,’ funded under the auspices of Cities Alliance (Cities without Slums) Liberia Country Program.
According to Habitat’s Chief of Party, Matthew Ndote, the need to introduce the PASSA methodology in Liberia was identified as a result of many hazards, risks and vulnerabilities faced by low-income households, especially in slum communities such as erosion, flooding, heavy rain downpour, and disease vectors among others, especially those living in slum communities.
He said PASSA is a participatory methodology for disaster risk reduction (DRR) related to shelter safety and it is a variation of Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST), which has been used by many Red Cross/ Red Crescent National Societies in water and sanitation programs since the late 1990s, and has been adopted by Habitat for Humanity in many countries across the globe.
He said the aim of introducing PASSA among government agencies and organizations involved with disaster risk response is to develop local capacity to reduce shelter related risk by raising awareness among communities and developing local skills through a joint analysis, learning and decision-making at the community level.
He added that after the training, the facilitators will guide selected slum communities through eight weeks of participatory activities in PASSA process geared progressively to: Develop awareness of targeted households on shelter safety issues in their community; Identifying hazards and vulnerabilities that pose risk to their housing conditions; Recognize and analyze causes of shelter vulnerability; Identify and prioritize potential strategies to improve shelter safety; Make a plan to put those shelter safety strategies into place, based on local capacities and monitor and evaluate progress.
He confirmed that Habitat intends to support the implementation of a community infrastructure pilot project from the priority list emerging from this process.
PASSA, Ndote said, also aims to raise the awareness of the ‘everyday vulnerable’ of the ‘everyday risks’ related to their built environment and foster locally appropriate safe shelter and settlement practices. It offers a simple process, facilitated by volunteers (or NGO personnel) and technical advisors, through which communities can build upon their own insights, skills, and leadership to attain improved living conditions and safer habitats.
The use of PASSA will inform both individual household and community understanding of vulnerabilities that are related to building the environment and they will lead to the identification and promotion of locally appropriate measures to achieve safer shelter and settlement, he added.
This workshop has attracted participants from the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA), NHA/Slum Upgrading Unit and technical departments, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Water And Sanitation Health Commission (NWASHC), Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS), Federation of Urban Poor Savers (FOLUPS), National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Liberia National Red Cross (LNRC) , Liberia Refugee Rehabilitation Commission (LRRRC), Ministry of Public Works (MOPW), Monrovia City Cooperation (MCC), Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) – Department of Urban Affairs.
He applauded the NHA management and staff for continued support and cooperation, including the hosting of such an event and encouraged all participants to take advantage of the opportunity to learn and help communities to achieve safe homes and better living conditions as a shared vision.
At the opening session on January 21, 2019, NHA Officer-in-Charge, Madam Tonia Johnson, expressed appreciation for the workshop that would provide the NHA the human capacity development to create necessary education for slum dwellers and others who are interested to build homes but have little knowledge of the importance of alleys and sanitation.
Deputy Minister for Urban Affairs at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Paulita CC Wie welcomed the workshop, and said the idea is within the confines of urban planning and expressed her department’s readiness to work along with the NHA to develop the capacity of the participants. She also commended habitat for humanity for the initiative.
Facilitator Mario C. Flores and Cities Alliances’ acting Country Program Manager, Francisco M. Juan Lopez, said the training is to help the capacity of their partners in their mandate to make awareness of community residents’ needs that could generate some funding to take care of their priorities.