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by Phil Bartle, PhD

Introduction to the Module (Hub)

Documents Included in this Disaster Module

  • Disaster's End, transforming a programme of charity to empowerment;
  • SWOT, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; using the process;
  • Disaster Illustrations, Downloadable to make local training material.

Transforming a programme of charity to a programme of empowerment

Continuum or Transformation?

It sounds reasonable: after a disaster you provide emergency response for survival, then recovery, then rehabilitation, then development. It is called "The Continuum," and it sounds like a smoothly transitional set of steps (or "gears" in car).

It is not. The transition from providing emergency response (using a charity methodology) to providing development assistance (using an empowerment methodology) is not a neat series of steps in the same direction. It is a radical transformation, almost a complete reversal of methods.

This web site, and all the training documents in it, are dedicated to and aimed at the Empowerment of low-income communities. In so much as the Dependency Syndrome, waiting for outside charity, contributes to the sustaining of poverty, it is seen as the very opposite of empowerment.

Thus, in a post emergency situation, following the very necessary emergency response (which is based upon immediate charity to support survival), a radical transformation of the way assistance is delivered, is necessary. There is no easy indicator of when that should happen, and certainly differences of opinion about both its existence and its timing.

An empowerment methodology is based upon the concept that any organism (cultural or biological) needs to exercise (expend energy) or "struggle" in order to become stronger, whereas if it only lays back and waits for outside help, it becomes weaker.

The needed transformation from emergency response to development assistance, therefore, is not a smooth transition but a radical transformation. It needs a change in programme (the way it delivers its output), and therefore a radical change in its organizational set-up, and a change in the skills and delivery methods of its staff.

The training documents in this module are intended both for mobilzers and their field coordinators, and for managers and boards of assistance agencies. Before a transformation is considered, these documents should provide some issues to consider. Perhaps there should be no transformation.

If an agency does not have a mandate or the capacity to transform itself from an emergency response organization, or if the conditions in a current location (output from the SWOT process) indicate, then it should not be transformed, but it must end its emergency assistance when the emergency is over, and dissolve or move to another emergency location.

The decision to undergo a transformation is not an easy decision, and the process of carrying it through is not an easy thing to do.

The documents in this module will help in making the decision, and in carrying it through if that is the decision.


2005 Earthquake in Pakistan:

2005 Earthquake in Pakistan

Photo by Touqeer Abbas

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 Following the path of least resistance makes all rivers and some men crooked

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Last update: 2012.09.04

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