Engaging the community in ward 67

Long before the FISONG project took to the ground, the community members in ward 67 were initially engaged with few local NGOs. There were diverse methods adopted to engage and develop the community. There were multiple meetings with the members of Ward 67, the various Ward administration agencies and the township level authorities. It is on this basis of this ground understanding that the project was initially designed taking into account the availability of resources and the best way to have impact on the ground.

The initial meetings with the community was mostly done with already existing organically grown community leaders. In the initial meetings, the participation was generally low as the family members also have to go for work for day wages. The initial workshop meetings that were held with various stakeholders in Ward 67, their capabilities, outreach and interests was been identified. In any community engagement, the best way to start relationship is through existing structures within the community and basic groups. One such group is called Myun Sur Par La that provides funeral services to the community.  Setting and enforcing new structure has high risk of failure without acceptance of the community.

The community inception workshop to introduce project had to be done in the Monastery of ward 82 due to unavailability of proper meeting place in ward 67. Moreover, there were administrative issues in getting approval from GAD. More than 20 people from ward 67 came to attend the inception workshop. There was good interactive discussion where the project members from respective organization introduced themselves and gave their profiles.  The community representative came forward and discussed the issues related to their surroundings.  U Toe Aung, community leader, presented the current situation of the community, especially in water and electricity problems. They also identified 5 key areas of improvement that want to take forward.

The ward 67 is also exposed to risk of climate change and hence with the assistance of ActionAid basic awareness training on climate change was given at the new community centre in ward 67. The science of climate science was broken down into simpler and common terms for the community to understand. The basic understanding of different natural hazards and disasters that the community is exposed to was also listed out. The training program show greater response from the community with more than 30 people participating. This is a good sign that project is slowly yet surely improving mobilization within the ward.

Further, community engagement workshops and consultation workshops are being planned out in FISONG project in the coming months. The increase in participation level is sign of better engagement. A stark example of interest is now that even young mothers come to meetings holding their babies.