PRC has a longstanding community work history: it has provided and continues to carry out a wide array of health and social interventions aimed at empowering and building the capacities of local communities. In mid-2016, PRCS’ community activities were restructured following the adoption by the Society’s 11th General Assembly in 2014 of a key strategic objective aimed at promoting its active participation in building the capacities and resilience of local communities. The restructuring process aimed at ensuring that all relevant activities are carried out under the umbrella of one department and at adopting an integrated planning and intervention approach in cooperation with local communities. Shifting from working in communities to working with communities entails changing the Society’s culture, mind-sets, roles and practices. It also requires changing approaches and re-assigning roles, with HQ departments providing technical backstopping and branches/sections carrying out daily oversight and management efforts.
Objectives and goals
1. Ensuring community-wide holistic interventions:
Departments and programs must engage as one team with communities to determine their needs. Interventions should then be executed in a holistic manner to meet these needs. Developing holistic and multisectoral assessment tools is a sine qua non condition to ensuring success.
2. Increasing impact on beneficiaries (individuals, groups or communities):
Targeted activities, community-based training courses and the provision of knowledge and skills to local communities increase the impact of PRCS’ activities on those communities.
3. Enhancing the role played by PRCS’ branches
Branches/sections have close ties with local communities. They understand their problems and can thus determine their needs. Hence, all community-based programs should be run by branches/sections. Moreover, the capacities of branches should be built in order to give them the authority to manage programs with the technical support of departments.
4. Increasing community ownership of programs and activities
Community ownership is key to ensuring sustainability and can be achieved by engaging stakeholders at all levels and in all processes, including needs assessments, priority setting, planning, identifying solutions, developing action plans and evaluation. Empowering
communities, boosting their resilience and building their capacities helps them face natural, occupation-induced or man-made disasters. This can only be achieved if we shift from working in communities to working with communities.
5. Building a network of active and specialized volunteers within local communities
PRCS must provide volunteers with specialized training and skills so they can better assist communities. These skills will enable tens of volunteers to work with disabled persons and their families within the Home Enrichment Program, offer health education, carry out First Aid activities and psychosocial interventions under the Community-Based Health Program, and reinforce safe behaviours during emergencies under the Community-Based Risk Reduction Program.
To sum up, this approach aims at achieving three main goals:
1. Assisting communities as they adopt holistic approaches to manage risks and address their underlying vulnerabilities.
2. Encouraging communities to adopt demand-driven approaches;
3. Being connected to communities – being available to everyone, everywhere to prevent and reduce human suffering.
Key Programs Implemented Within the Community Work Department:
1- Community-Based Risk Reduction Program, implemented in more than 60 local communities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip;
2- Community-Based Health and First Aid Program, run through 78 Community Awareness Committees in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with the help of 1343 volunteers;
3- Community-Based Special Education Program (Home Enrichment Program), targeting severely disabled children in 36 communities;
4- Psychosocial Support Program, which offers guidance and psychosocial support to PRCS’ staff and volunteers and to its beneficiaries. It also provides training on psychological interventions during emergencies.