By Libya Herald staff.
Zarzis, Tunisia, 1 December 2014:
A group of officials and other respected members of the Sebha community have had . . .[restrict]their knowledge and experience of how to manage affairs during times of crisis boosted with a four-day training event in Tunisia.
The location of the remote southern town means it is vulnerable to being cut off from the rest of the country and, during several bouts of armed conflict since the revolution (including earlier this year), it was completely cut off, suffering shortages of electricity, petrol and water. Although people in Sebha already had experience of managing during times of crisis, the training brought community figures together to work on strategies to prepare for any future emergency situations and reduce risks and threats faced by the local communities.
“These were practical workshops, where I helped the participants to develop ideas on how to plan and how to work together, because most institutions in Sebha usually work alone,” explained Sarah El-Khazin Bouvier, a specialist trainer in planning, coordination and emergency management in times of crisis.
One of the tasks was to put together “a problem tree” highlighting some of the key challenges the southern town faces, in order of importance. These included smuggling of people and weapons (for which Sebha is known to be something of a hub), a lack of basic facilities and services, damage to residential properties, and petrol shortages.
The group came up with basic guidelines for a way forward, the first set of which was to prepare communities in and around Sebha for the possibility of an emergency situation. Guidelines included ensuring adequate emergency supplies of fuel were safely stored in the town and optimising the use and storage of necessary commodities and establishing contact with relevant government agencies. Trying to ensure that every household had access to a generator, an extra tank of water stored for emergency use and spare canisters of bottled gas were also high on the list, as was the need to include local women in these preparations since, as Bouvier pointed out, it was women who generally had a clearer idea of what food and water supplies would be needed.
The course was extremely well-received by participants, some of whom expressed their gratitude at having been brought together in a safe and non-political environement where they could openly discuss some of the issues they faced. “We built on the knowledge and experience we already have and this training really came at the right time for us,” one participant told the Libya Herald. “I can’t say for sure whether it’s possible to apply everything we’ve learned, but I noticed everybody here was very motivated and they’ve high intentions of implementing these things on the ground.”
Another participant said he was extremely happy with the “excellent” training the group received. He pointed out that although the situation in Sebha was relatively stable at present it remained an unpredictable time for Libya.
The Sebha training programme was organised by the Danish Refugee Council-Danish Demining Group (DRC-DDG), which is the one of the few international organisations which has had an on-the-ground presence in Sebha since August 2012.
“We work to recreate a safe environment where people can live without the threat of armed violence and its consequences through building local capacities to manage and mitigate those consequences,” a DRC-DDG representative explained. Last week’s training was part of DRC-DDG’s Armed Violence Reduction project, which is financially-supported by the British Conflict Pool fund.
To deliver the course, DRC-DDG partnered with Canadian Leaders in International Consulting (Clic-Consultants) which has been working on capacity-building projects in Libya for the Government, Civil Society Organisations and the private sector since 2013.
DRC-DDG and Clic-Consultants hope to be able to replicate the success of this training in other localities in Libya in the future. [/restrict]