By Darine N. Boongullaya, IFRC

Mrs. Wasana Tuppum (54) and her extended family live in Ban Ton-Wa Village, Sing Buri Province. Every year, the village suffers from recurring floods, where some extreme cases have forced families to move to higher ground.

“Our village is prone to flooding because of its proximity to the Chao Phraya river. We have been seeing a rise in water levels since 1995, and this adds pressure for us in sustaining our livelihood,” Mrs. Tuppum explains. “It affected our crop planting, damaged our properties and the roads, limiting our ability to go to work and send our kids to school.”

Along with several other flood-prone communities, the Thai Red Cross Society has been working closely with the Ban Ton-Wa villagers since January 2017 to support them in becoming more resilient to disasters.

This support includes increasing their awareness on the different risks, hazards and impact of flooding, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the community in preparing for future disasters.  In recent years, the community members have been collectively improving their local response mechanisms before, during and after disaster situations, especially in dealing with recurring natural events like floods, droughts or health epidemics.

As part of wider efforts to ensure that gender and diversity approaches are integrated within the communities, a six-day Gender and Diversity in Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments (VCA) Field School was held from 21-26 May in Ayutthaya and Sing Buri provinces in Thailand, bringing together representatives from various Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in the region.

Visits to the community allowed the National Society representatives to work closely with community members, introduce them to a range of VCA tools, and ensure that the activities involved the participation of the elderly, women, youth, and people with disabilities.

“We have become accustomed to the flooding in our village. I never realized how much we have improved in our ability to cope with the situation before. Only after learning about the risk assessment tools from the Red Cross that I can clearly see my village’s progress in disaster preparedness and recovery,” Mrs. Tuppum adds.

“The gender and diversity in VCA field school was an incredibly helpful training. Not only did we learn the theories in a classroom setting, we also had the opportunity to implement those learnings within the communities. It was a truly valuable learning experience and applicable to the work we do,” says Ms. Sunisthida Phetduang, Head of Relief Division and gender focal point for the Thai Red Cross Society.

“It was good to exchange knowledge. I learned a lot especially in improving our old ways of dealing with disasters and making our community more resilient”, says Mrs. Dujdao Pengpak, the Ban Ton-Wa Village Head.

Learn more about IFRC’s work on Gender and Diversity in VCA tools, visit our online Resilience Library thematic page on Gender and Diversity or for more information on VCA, go to VCA Webpage at IFRC’s online library.

The Field School in Ayutthaya and Sing Buri was implemented as part of the Regional Resilience Initiative (RRI) with the support of the Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Government.