Estrategia Internacional para la Reducción de Desastres
América Latina y el Caribe  

Revista EIRD Informa - América Latina y el Caribe
Número:13 -2006 -12/2006 - 11-/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001 - 2/2000 - 1/2000

Socios en Acción


Costa Rica
Workshops succeed in testing use by facilitators of radio drama for community disaster mitigation

René Martorell

Tiempo de huracanes (Season of Hurricanes) is a radio daytime drama with a difference: instead of focusing on whether boy meets girl, it was produced as an educational tool for hurricane prevention and mitigation at the local level.

A Facilitator’s Handbook was written at the same time to assist those who would be in charge of using the radio drama as a “hook” to motivate local community members to play a more proactive role in their own protection through the application of basic risk management techniques.

In a nutshell, the idea was to prepare a handbook that would complement the efforts made by all those who participated in the conception, writing, production and recording of the radio drama by provide technical suggestions and practical advice on how best to use Tiempo de huracanes as a community training tool.
The handbook was tested in April and May 2003 in Costa Rica at two trial workshops targeted at a variety of actors willing to try Tiempo de huracanes as a tool for community capacity building in disaster prevention.

The first workshop was held on 26 April in the John XXIII Training Centre in San José. A total of 30 potential facilitators took part, including members of local emergency committees, municipal government employees, representatives of various government agencies, and the staff of nonprofit community radio stations.

The second took place on 28 May 2003 at the Costa Rican Red Cross’ headquarters, also in San José, and enabled Red Cross volunteers from around the country to test the new methodology and express their views.

Both workshops’ objectives were the same:

1. To see what kind of reception the Facilitators’ Handbook would get from a representative sample of its target primary audiences, i.e., those in charge of disseminating its contents.

2. To make workshop participants follow the steps outlined in the Handbook for using the radio drama as a starting point for hurricane risk reduction training among local groups, in order to validate their effectiveness.

3. To test whether the Handbook, in conjunction with the training workshops for facilitators, could strengthen the facilitators’ capacity to carry out effective motivational training by using specific participatory methods in local community settings.

Since the purpose of the radio drama and handbook is to encourage participation among the groups and communities

involved, the “train the trainers” workshops strove to create a pleasant, relaxed environment for group work that would foster not only the transmission of concrete skills but also a spirit of playfulness and camaraderie that would promote openness in the group’s responses.


Group assessment of the workshops

After hearing the radio drama and practicing the steps suggested in the handbook, participants in both workshops engaged in vibrant, fruitful discussions on the procedures suggested in the book and on the workshops themselves. The following were some of the suggestions made by the participants and the conclusions they arrived at:

• It is very important to be thoroughly familiar with the radio drama’s plot and other characteristics before employing it for community-level training.

• It is also necessary to assess the characteristics of the facility where the community training will take place, such as the number of participants it can accommodate, its accessibility, or its acoustic qualities.

• Attention must be paid to those techniques for working with groups that are especially effective in involving the participants.

• It is crucial to plan the workshops carefully, particularly the duration of each of the steps, so that all major topics are covered adequately and group discussions can be fitted into the schedule—this, regardless of whether a single session is used per story or each story is presented over two days, listening to half of each episode each day before the interactive sessions begin.

• It is necessary to make sure that all training material required is at hand before each community training session—a sound system or speakers to supplement a cassette player, a sketch-board, notepads and pens for participants, etc.

•The radio drama should be seen as a training resource that is complementary to other activities, part of a broader effort by the community itself to build its own capacity for risk management.

In addition to the value of the comments themselves, which will be incorporated into future editions of the handbook, the workshops also proved their worth in the way they encouraged participants to remain involved in the process.

Several who work in government agencies or NGOs involved in disaster reduction said they would like to replicate the workshops “in house”, since many of their co-workers could become facilitators themselves, multiplying the impact of the radio drama as a training tool. Others expressed their interest in encouraging their neighbours to participate in community disaster reduction. As a whole, attendees committed themselves publicly to using the radio drama as part of training and information packages aimed at improving disaster mitigation in their own communities.