There are interesting experiences in the country from the community perspective that have incorporated tools to strengthen resilience to disasters, such as DIPECHOs, specific CSO projects, etc. However, the level of vulnerability is exacerbated by models that drive growth but not real development in these communities, even in some of them a level of invisibility continues to exist that reinforces marginalisation and severe levels of vulnerability.
This has led to the strengthening of actions within the framework of local empowerment (both local government and the most vulnerable communities in their territory) within the framework of a shift in attitudes, in light of cyclical phenomena, such as floods and displacement, especially in urban areas.
A working methodology was developed that sought to increase not only the amount of social data of the affected communities, both during and before the emergency phase, but also achieved a significant increase in the quality of the data, allowing decision-makers to have a real map of the social situation in real time and almost without inaccuracies, with a comprehensiveness of data that allowed to include social programs within the basic assistance that used to be provided. Likewise, the leading role of the collection process was transferred to ordinary citizens and affected residents, allowing not only a very enriching process of social mobilisation but also facilitating the citizens to oversight the information and the actions emanating from it.
The Community-Based Social Information System project facilitated a very simple and dynamic methodology that any citizen could be part of the fieldwork process, raising awareness in a sector of the population that had a very strong prejudice towards these communities, allowing a change of perspective about them and their reality. The common point was the technology, which through smartphones gave the passport to help and be part of this process. The motto was “if you can use Whatsapp, you can help”, which allowed engagement of a young population that is generally apathetic of social activities, and reduced costs thanks to the optimisation of open-source applications.
The project was self-funded by the organisation Construyendo Sociedad during the stage of developing the methodology and the use of the technology; the preparation of the indicators and questionnaires to be used during the data collection, the generation of a temporary database to manage the information that was being uploaded to the cloud (online digital database), and the process of data collection in the field.
The project’s strategy sought to involve the Municipality of Asunción (which, in addition to being the capital of the country, allowed the replicability of the process to be tested), since, in percentages, it was the most affected by the crisis created by the El Niño phenomenon. A very positive synergy was generated, integrating the strategic agencies of this local government, and as part of the project’s exit plan, the work methodology was transferred as well as the use of the technology used, as a tool for the Municipality, being already incorporated and used in an institutional manner by the General Management of Social Affairs.
Work was carried out with the local government and local organisations in the affected areas, involving the National University with specialists/teachers and students involved in the process of developing the technological tool.
The project lasted approximately 8 months, between the pilot test, the joint work and the transfer of capacity, culminating when the emergency situation caused by El Niño diminished and official assistance ceased.