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Comhlámh’s Ruth Powell reflects on a recent training workshop she and Áine Lynch attended in Athens.

The Acropolis


When you hear that you are going to attend a three-day training workshop in Athens, on Disaster Risk Reduction, you can’t really imagine that it’s going to be in any way fun or uplifting.  You can’t honestly expect that discussing hazards, disasters, risk assessments and the effects of adversity on already vulnerable and low income communities can be in anyway uplifting…but actually, it was.

My colleague, Áine Lynch and I recently attended Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Linking Relief Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD) training in Athens, along with representatives from seven other organisations, as part of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative Comhlámh has been involved with since 2015.  We were hosted by ActionAid Greece, and the workshops were facilitated by REDR UK.

Ruth Powell and Alex Brock of SUAS

REDR UK slowly took us through the various definitions of hazards versus human-made disasters, we discussed the diverse types of needs assessments, which communities should participate in post-disaster, and we talked about the impact and probability of risks and how they can be reduced.  However, the most interesting activity of the three days was a group led role-play, based on a case study of floods in Myanmar, in which each group had to imagine being a major stakeholder within the disaster.  In turn, we played the parts of UNICEF, ActionAid Myanmar, Save the Children and a local NGO called Hual Land Development Organisation (HLDO).

Ruth Powell and Sittal Kumar

In role, we then made short presentations and participated in discussions in order to find a linked response to the information before us, thus practising the theory of LLDR, which we had been introduced to earlier.  This activity was terrific.

Although, despite the learning outcomes and the fun (yes, there was fun after all) it was important to remember that this case study was based on real life events, in which many people had died, been injured, lost their homes and livelihoods.  This was particularly poignant, as two of our participants were representing Myanmar, so a great deal of intrinsic appreciation of this fact, was required.  I hope that we all took part in this role-play with an attitude of respect and with the intention of learning from the case study and from benefiting from others’ experiences.  And I hope that our fellow participants from Myanmar felt that we engaged in the activity with consideration.


In our free time, we visited the stunning Acropolis, ate wonderful Greek food and had many chats about our work and lives.  And as with all good training workshops, these informal discussions were as engaging and interesting as the content provided by REDR UK.  At the end of it I certainly felt like I had learned a great deal about DRR and LLDR, and about many other things that weren’t in the objectives.  Áine and I had a wonderful time.

Áine Lynch inbetween sessions…

The representatives from the other organisations were:  Action Aid Myanmar, Mano y Mano (Peru), SOS (Malta), FEC (Portugal), ANVT (Togo), La Guilde (France) and Suas from Ireland.

Omar Agbangba, Sylvie Dumans, Marie Julienne and Abdel Agouda.

To learn more about the EUAid Initiative or EV4U contact [email protected]

For general information about Comhlámh contact [email protected]

For more information about REDR UK:  https://www.redr.org.uk/

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