Community Of Practice On Disaster Risk Reduction Of The Arab
Community Of Practice On Disaster Risk Reduction Of The Arab States  
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Background
UNDP country office in Syria is implementing a project entitled "Sub-regional Facility for Cooperation in Disaster Reduction among the Arab States". The main objective of the project is to strengthen regional and national capacities for disaster risk reduction through the development of a sub-regional facility as a partnership platform for knowledge sharing, networking and development of common approaches to training and capacity building based on good practices to reduce capacity disparities within the region and to introduce appropriate international experiences that are not present in the region. The facility will also contribute to achieving adequate intra-regional mechanism for coordination, research and information exchange. The project will have a sub-regional scope covering Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Yemen.
The management unit in Damascus has developed a Network, database and a Website. The network will be a mechanism through which the regional disaster reduction community can increase on a regular basis to share ideas, insights, tools, experiences and knowledge, and to facilitate online discussions and exchange of information and experiences on practices of all elements of disaster management and risk reduction posting of questions and queries, responses and complete the consolidated replies to queries. It would comprise membership from a cross section of government and non-governmental agencies and institutions, academia and civil society from within the participating countries.

What is a Community of Practice?
A Community of Practice (CoP) is a network and discussion platform of interested people to capitalize experience, share and create new knowledge and innovations. A CoP works mainly through virtual exchange via email.
A CoP is per definition self-running, that means that members participate and attend voluntarily, because of their interest. It is the responsibility of the members to make it attractive and useful.

Forum (CoP) on " Disaster Reduction in the Arab States "
The Networking through an email will be a mechanism through which the regional disaster reduction community can interact on a regular basis to share ideas, insights, tools, experiences and knowledge. This network is will be an external network which will be managed by a network facilitator who will facilitate the posting of questions and queries and responses as well as the compilation of consolidated replies to queries rose. The important element of this high-level forum is to bring together national experts of diverse backgrounds ranging from government policy makers, national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to NGOs, academic institutions and UNDP, working on disaster management issues to help foster a sense of community amongst a range of professionals who are grappling with similar sets of problems in their respective countries through an extensive consultative process which will provide opportunities to access available information, share lessons learnt and promote best practices related to disaster management.
Institutes and experts and their specific domain expertise are made visible and available. In turn, governments will be able to benefit from the experiences of neighboring countries and therefore shorten their own learning curves. The main topic of this CoP is "Disaster Risk Reduction". Within this topic there are many sub-topics that can be discussed and shared upon. These topics are defined by participants themselves, based on their expressed needs and interests.

Participants
The CoP is open to all interested people and international NGOs, NGO networks, development projects, Government institutions, research and extension institutions are especially welcome to participate.
The CoP shall be attractive for practitioners active in the field of disaster management and risk reduction. An actual list of participants with their full contact details will be visible on the website: www.wiqaya.org
The forum is specially open to :
  1. people from the Facility member countries ( local and international NGOs, NGO networks, development programmes and projects, Government institutions, research and extension institutions, etc ).
  2. People from other Arab countries are especially welcome to participate. Ideally, the CoP shall become an attractive platform for practitioners active in the field. An updated list of participants including their full contact details will be available and updated on the website www.wiqaya.org after you are logged in. The CoP will be facilitated and administrated by the Project Director and his team.
What are the benefits and costs of participating?
The benefits of a CoP are the access to a network of people working in the same field of interest; newest and processed information; immediate answers to hot issues; saving of time on gathering information; staying up to date through the access to news; challenge and opportunity to contribute to the community.
The costs for participating are the time spent while joining the CoP, which – based on other experiences – is estimated as being between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours per week. In times of intensive virtual discussions on specific topics it can be more.

Language of the CoP
Each participant can contribute either in Arabic or English. Contributions in both languages will be summarized and translated into the other language by the facilitator. However, contributions in other languages are still welcome but cannot be translated in this stage.

First Round
During a first round of discussion until the end of October 2006, we would like to ask you to suggest topics of special interest to you in the broad frame of disaster reduction. To do so, please send an e-mail with your topics to the email address of project Director at ghaleb@wiqaya.org . In a later stage, every member of the CoP can send an email to the whole group at wiqayagroup@wiqaya.org.
At the end of October, The team in the facility office will make a consolidated reply (a synthesis of the contributions) that will be sent to all participants. The discussions in the coming months will be based on the needs and interests expressed in the replies of this first discussion round. However, it will be possible to suggest new topics at any time!

Subjects Suggested for Discussion :
  • Disasters and development
  • Strategies of preparedness for disaster
  • Mechanisms for knowledge and information exchange
  • The role of governmental and private institutions and civil societies in preparedness for disaster
  • Mechanisms of coordination among national, regional, and international organizations and institutions in the field of disaster reduction