From October 21-27, the 2018 BIARI Philippines program convened an interdisciplinary group of 48 academics and practitioners from across the Philippines and other ASEAN nations in Pampanga, Philippines for a week long training on community resilience as it pertains to disaster risk reduction and management. Organized by the Humanitarian Innovation Initiative at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, this BIARI beyond Brown program relied on strong local partnerships with private sector organizations, academic institutions, and other key disaster management stakeholders from across the Philippines. BIARI alumni located in the Philippines were also brought in to lead discussions and facilitate working groups. Through a mix of lectures, panel discussions, and interactive simulations, the BIARI fellows engaged in discussions on sectoral issues such as livelihood and business development, housing and settlement, and social services all within the context of disaster risk reduction and management. Cross cutting themes of vulnerability, gender, poverty, and environmental management were also discussed. In addition, the BIARI fellows were assigned to one of eight groups in which they collaborated on developing an innovative research proposal or venture project that addressed the issue of building community resilience to natural disasters. On the final day, each working group pitched their proposals, which will be considered for seed funding.
By convening this BIARI program in the Philippines, a country that faces over 20 typhoons a year, we were able to strengthen existing networks and create new collaborations between academic communities and communities of practice that will not only empower and strengthen the capacities of local humanitarian professionals but also increase levels of transparency and trust between institutions, which is vital for a well-coordinated humanitarian response efforts. Furthermore, the humanitarian-academic research collaborations coming out of this program will build a robust evidence base for interventions to effectively meet the needs of communities affected by crisis. These new collaborations have the potential to incubate transformative ideas about disaster preparedness, humanitarian response, and post-emergency transitions, subsequently generating new research, educational programming, advocacy, and eventually policy change at the highest levels. Finally, the BIARI Philippines fellows will now join our Humanitarian Innovation Initiative’s growing diverse network of humanitarian professionals.