The Art of Disaster Risk Reduction: an arts-based approach to strengthening community and institutional capacity in Colombia

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Politics Philosophy Lang & Comms Studies

Abstract

Summary
This proposal focuses on unanticipated pathways to impact directly related to the AHRC co-funded interdisciplinary research project, Moving with Risk: forced displacement and vulnerability to hazards in Colombia (1 November 2016-31 October 2018). Moving with Risk piloted innovative arts-based methodologies to examine how people forced from their homes by conflict in Colombia are exposed to heightened risk from environmental hazards such as flooding, landslide and fire in the places where they resettle. The research team used creative arts as a methodological tool for data collection and a channel for empowerment of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in disaster risk reduction (DRR).
The arts-based methodologies piloted in Moving with Risk proved highly effective in engaging and empowering IDPs and the institutions that work with them around DRR discussion, practice and policy. This project will work in new at-risk case study sites in the municipalities of Manizales, Pereira and Soacha, and connect with new communities, in order not only to enhance and develop the benefits and value of Moving with Risk, but also to transfer these to new audiences not accessed in the original research.
Via close collaboration throughout the research process, the team has developed strong relationships of trust with IDPs, their communities and the organisations that work with them in DRR. This has generated new opportunities for impact that could not have been foreseen at the time of the original research proposal. IDPs and the institutions involved in the original project have fed directly into planning the proposed impact activities, which are intended both to develop and deepen existing relationships and also to generate similar relationships of trust with new communities in new neighbourhoods not included in the original research.
The impact project will bring together university academics, researchers from Human Rights organisation Dejusticia, representatives of the Colombian Red Cross and DRR sections of local municipalities, to reach three new audiences. First, it will engage whole communities exposed to environmental risk, in new case study sites. Recent migrants from Venezuela and broader indigenous and Afro-Colombian groups, who all live in the same spaces as the IDPs who were the sole focus of the original research, will be included. Arts-based activities will be used to elicit information from these communities about their knowledge, experiences and understandings of the risks they live with. Community members will receive arts-based training in their legal rights and responsibilities regarding DRR. They will then use arts-based activities to establish DRR networks within their communities. Run by the local neighbourhoods, these networks will continue beyond the duration of the project, empowering communities to take active ownership of DRR practice.
Second, the project will deepen engagement with government and civil organisations that work in DRR. Representatives from these organisations will receive training in the use of arts-based methodologies as a tool for working with at-risk communities and collecting information about these communities' knowledge, experiences and needs. A free learning package will be made available to provide training for further organisations and NGOs who work in DRR.
Third, the project will tackle negative public perceptions of at-risk communities as 'victims' or passive beneficiaries of state support. Artworks will be created, with the communities' input and in their preferred formats and styles, to be displayed in public spaces chosen by the communities. This will create innovative spaces for marginalised communities to control the framework of their own representation, and articulate their own stories about their strengths, resilience, skills and capacities. At a time of peacebuilding, this will allow for a more pluralistic engagement with the legacy of conflict and with DRR.

Planned Impact

Impact Summary
The impact activities will benefit:
Communities and individuals resettled in areas of high risk to natural hazards in Colombia
The project, both in terms of its engagement activities and training on disaster risk reduction (DRR) for local neighbourhoods, will directly benefit at-risk communities. First, people resettled in high-risk areas in the municipalities of Soacha, Manizales and Pereira will be invited to share and debate their personal experiences, trajectories of vulnerability and capacity-development in their own voices and styles (e.g. songs, art, dance) during the DRR workshops. In the short term, this will provide alternative spaces for participants to reconstruct identities, build confidence, create new social networks and engage in activities in new geographical spaces. Second, training of local community members on DRR rights and responsibilities (Diploma certified by University of Manizales) will provide communities and individuals with useful tools and knowledge to cope and respond to disaster risk in their territories. In addition to useful legal training provided by Dejusticia, the practical aspects of the course (helping organise and design the DRR workshops using the arts) will allow individuals to engage with their communities (residents and authorities) in innovative ways and build capacity to organise and strengthen processes of local citizen participation. For example, upon completion of the course, members of the community will be well-positioned to provide input into their neighbourhood and municipal Planes de Desarrollo Territorial (Territorial Development Plans). Third, the use of the arts to open up innovative spaces for dialogue between local government institutions and at-risk communities will highlight and strengthen capacities to respond to risk, which will benefit communities in the medium and long term.
Government Institutions and Civil Society Organisations that work in Disaster Risk Reduction
Specifically, this project aims to benefit the Colombian Red Cross and organisations in the municipalities of Soacha, Pereira and Manizales responsible for DRR. First, representatives from these institutions will receive training from the project team and Dejusticia in the use of the expressive arts as tools for community engagement, knowledge exchange and the legal aspects of DRR in informal settlements. A deeper understanding of the rights and responsibilities that local government, residents and institutions have around DRR will help municipalities and others involved in DRR design successful policies that will generate positive impact for local communities. In addition, the arts-based methodologies could provide innovative and alternative approaches to engaging with at-risk populations elsewhere in the municipalities and in Colombia.
By bringing together government agencies (municipalities), NGOs (Red Cross) and research institutions (University of Manizales, Dejusticia), this project will also provide a platform for dialogue, knowledge-exchange and capacity-building. These organisations will strengthen their links via different project activities. They will participate in the DRR workshops at the community level, in the seminars designed for institutions and in the final project presentations and engagement activities with the communities where results will be shared. More concretely, these spaces of dialogue will help all these organisations identify capacities at the local and national level and strengthen their approaches and methodologies aimed at mainstreaming DRR among vulnerable populations. This project thus has the potential to benefit organisations that work in DRR and people who experience similar situations elsewhere in Colombia, beyond the case studies proposed here.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title "Caminata artistica para la Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres" 
Description A wa;l with performance, music, story-telling, song and muralism throughout 8 barrios in Cazuca, Soacha. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Communities from 8 different neighbourhoods came together to collaborate and produce the artistic outputs. 
 
Title "Cuidando ando mi territorio: Prácticas comunitarias en gestion del riesgo de desastres" 
Description Carnival of disaster risk management organised by communities in three neighbourhoods of Pereira. Activities included dance, music, games and the rpesentation of the book, 'Cuidando Ando Mi territorio: Prácticas comunitarias en gestión del riego de desastres'. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Communities collaborated to produce artistic outputs. 
 
Title "EXPEDICIÓN CUIDARTE" Por tu vida y por la Mía... ¡Conéctate con la gestión del riesgo de desastres a través del arte! 
Description An expedition by coach across four barrios in Manizales during which community members from four neighbourhoods presented songs, artwork, and memorialisations. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact People from different neighbourhoods collaborated to produce artistic outputs. 
 
Title Cuidando Ando Mi Territorio: Prácticas comunitarias en gestión del riesgo de desastres 
Description A printed book written by community members about disaster risk management in their settlements. This is currently being prepared for online publication. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact (To be completed) 
 
Description Impact on community practice For socially and politically marginalised people who have suffered enormous loss and trauma and the disempowering effects of violence during Colombia's half-century of conflict, traditional social science interviews may re-open wounds and cause extreme distress. We used an innovative methodology based on music, dance, drama, drawing and muralism to create channels of community-led expression which empowered marginalised people to articulate their capacities, experiences, priorities, feelings and needs to us, and to key stakeholders. We also used the arts to raise community members' awareness of state services available to them. This led to concrete changes in behaviour and practice at the community level. Testimonies from participating communities demonstrate our impact. The project: 1. 'Unburdened' participants, allowing healing from trauma. 2. Increased confidence and knowledge of legal rights and responsibilities and of how to access state services. 3. Formally recognised and raised the status of previously 'invisible' or under-valued forms of local and traditional indigenous knowledge. 4. Gave rise to new community-led networks of mutual support and knowledge exchange, and new community practices aimed at reducing risk. Impact on government policy and practice For government and non-government organisations at regional and national levels, the community-led artistic outputs, presentations and performances touched the emotions profoundly. The arts thus enabled stakeholders to view people displaced by violence beyond the category of 'victim', and allowed them to access the human stories behind the numbers and statistics. This had deep impact on policy and the practice of government and non-government institutions: 1. Civil servants and state functionaries were moved to new understandings of the lived experiences and human consequences of displacement for the communities they work with. 2. The National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) of the government of Colombia promotes and supports our research, and invited the team to present at official conferences which took place on 19 October 2018, 17 October 2019 and 24 October 2019. In addition, it has invited and paid communities to present their artistic outputs as part of the national government's 'Month of Disaster Risk Reduction' formal activities held in the National Museum of Bogotá on 19 October 2018, raising the status of previously marginalised forms of local knowledge. 3. As a direct result of our research, the government better recognises the need to include communities in ongoing policy debates. Our research has therefore stimulated new government initiatives. Ours is one of three projects (and the only non-governmental project) that the Colombian government has selected to collaborate on a new 'National Strategy for Community Resilience' which is currently being developed. 4. Inspired by the research, the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) of the government of Colombia asked the project team to provide input on 'enfoque diferencial' (diversity and inclusion), which is being used for the development of new policy on disaster risk reduction to better target Indigenous and other marginalised social groups including low-income households, women, the disabled and older people. The team is therefore reviewing and commenting on policy, and is in ongoing discussions with the UNGRD staff to further develop the ideas for policy engagement piloted in the research. 5. Our arts-based work has been selected for inclusion in the World Bank 'Art of Resilience' exhibition website. This is a World Bank exhibition that showcases selected internationally outstanding examples of how the arts can be used to strengthen community resilience, primarily in the developing world. We were also invited by the International Development committee of the UK Parliament to participate in a forum on how to strengthen the input from arts and humanities research into policy and practice.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Project's inclusion in a new national strategy, COMUNGERD (Comunidades Unidas en Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres/Communities United in Disaster Risk Management)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact Trust and confidence have been established between 'at-risk' communities and institutions that work in disaster risk management. Communities have a greater awareness of their legal rights and responsibilities, and institutions have a greater awareness of the needs and capacities of 'at-risk' communities.
 
Description University of East Anglia: - UEA PVC Impact Fund
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of East Anglia 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 06/2020
 
Description Collaboration with Colombian Human Rights organisation 
Organisation Dejusticia - Law, Justice and Society Studies Center
Country Colombia 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We worked with DeJusticia to devise and deliver modules to project participants. The collaboration was successful and forms the basis of future collaborations.
Collaborator Contribution DeJusticia have been involved in the project, and have provided training to community members in the legal aspects of disaster risk management in informal settlements.
Impact DeJusticia/Universidad de Manizales provided a 120-hour training course in the use of the arts in Disaster Risk Management, for which community participants received a certificate from the University of Manizales.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with Colombian Red Cross 
Organisation Colombian Red Cross
Country Colombia 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The team provided training to Red Cross representatives in the use of the arts in disaster risk management
Collaborator Contribution Representatives from the Colombian Red Cross attended seminars and communities' artistic presentations
Impact N/A
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with UNGRD, national government institution responsible for disaster risk management 
Organisation National Unit for Disaster Risk Management
Country Colombia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution , the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) of the government of Colombia asked the project team to provide input on 'enfoque diferencial' (diversity and inclusion), which is being used for the development of new policy on disaster risk reduction to better target Indigenous and other marginalised social groups including low-income households, women, the disabled and older people. The team is therefore reviewing and commenting on policy, and is in ongoing discussions with the UNGRD staff to further develop the ideas for policy engagement piloted in the project and original research.
Collaborator Contribution UNGRD have incorporated the project into a new disaster risk management initiative, COMUNGERD (Comunidades Unidas en Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres/Communities United in Disaster Risk Management), working with 'at-risk' communities to reduce hazards in informal settlements.
Impact N/A
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with Universidad de Manizales 
Organisation National University of Colombia
Country Colombia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Throughout 'The Art of Disaster Risk Reduction', we have collaborated with a unit of the Department of Social Psychology that specialises in research and intervention on psychosocial response and prevention to disasters, under Lina Zambrano.
Collaborator Contribution Universidad de Manizales have been a highly effective and committed impact collaborator, providing creative inputs into the design and engagement processes throughout the project. They have a very strong sense of ownership of the project, known as 'CuidArte' in Spanish, and have developed a logo for it, as well as devoted many person hours to suggesting adaptations and improvements to the methodology in order to secure trust, participation and meaningful engagement and impact among the people in the marginalised displaced communities where we work. Universidad de Manizales worked to provide a 120-hour training course in the use of the arts in Disaster Risk Management, for which community participants received a diploma and certificate from the University of Manizales.
Impact Book Cuidando Ando Mi territorio: prácticas comunitarias en gestión del riesgo de desastres
Start Year 2019
 
Description A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue - 41 x Meetings with national and local stakeholder institutions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 41 meetings were held with local government and national government during which stakeholders engaged with the project's arts-based methods as a means of reaching marginalised groups who are usually considered 'hard to reach'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Participation in an activity, workshop or similar - 106 x Community-led workshops in Colombia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 52 community members attended a series of workshops and seminars in which the arts were used by the research team to engage and empower participants in disaster risk management.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019