The United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP), in partnership with the Governments of Indonesia and Bangladesh, hosted a virtual knowledge and experience exchange as part of South-South and Triangular Cooperation on 20th April 2022. Government officials from both countries shared best practices to promote and champion youth participation in building disaster-resilient communities.
Both Indonesia and Bangladesh share similarities in their high exposure to multi-hazards like floods, droughts and climate-related disasters like frequent cyclones that wash away entire communities. The countries are also home to a large youth population who can be instrumental in effective disaster preparedness and response efforts.
“Disasters everywhere can have devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods, including the lives of young people. However, it is important to look at young people beyond being mere victims. They can be active contributors to their communities when given the right platform and knowledge,” said Christa Raeder, WFP’s Representative in Indonesia. “Both Indonesia and Bangladesh greatly benefit from the participation of young men and women in disaster management. This is particularly relevant as they have to take care of both men and women in the case of an emergency and their mental and physical strength and agility.”
Investing in the youth has been central to the Government of Indonesia’s community-based disaster risk management efforts. Since 2004, through the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Government established Taruna Siaga Bencana/TAGANA (Disaster-Ready Youth) and trained more than 39,000 young men and women nationwide as TAGANA volunteers. TAGANA plays an essential role in building awareness around disaster preparedness and response.
“TAGANA is a testament that young people, with extraordinary commitment and willingness, can make a difference and protect and save lives. The Ministry of Social Affairs through TAGANA provides a platform for these young people, both men and women, to take part in disaster management initiatives. We give them an opportunity to increase their capacity and knowledge and expand their network to contribute to society,” said Drs. Iyan Kusmadiana, MPS. Sp, Director of Social Protection for Natural Disaster Victims a.i., Ministry of Social Affairs.
Bangladesh, a cyclone prone country where the 1970 Cyclone claimed 300,000 – 500,000 lives but in more recent cyclones the death toll has become minimal, also has long-standing experience in engaging the youth in disaster preparedness and response. The country has a Cyclone Preparedness Programme involving 50,000 disaster volunteers.
The knowledge exchange event was an opportunity for both the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Republic of Indonesia to learn, replicate and scale up best practices involving young people in disaster management initiatives.