Disaster Risk Reduction Youth Volunteerism Empowers Women to Empower Communities

50 Youth Volunteers, Rakhine State Government and DRR Working Group Members attended the Kick-Off Event in Sittwe. Photo by UNV Myanmar

A well-attended 4th kick-off event of the Disaster Risk Reduction Youth Volunteer (DRRYV) pilot project took place on the 25th of April in Sittwe, Rakhine State. More than 60 participants joined the event, including State Departments representatives, DRR Working Group members, and Sittwe’s Youth Volunteers.

The DRRYV project is being implemented by UNV Myanmar in collaboration with UNDP and UNICEF, in support of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement initiative launched in 2014. In line with the Sendai Framework, its objective is strengthening community resilience to disasters through an institutionalized network of skilled and equipped youth volunteers across three pilot areas—Ayeyarwaddy, Mon, and Rakhine.

The Youth Volunteers worked together to assess disaster risks in their communities. Many identified fire, flood and cyclone as the main hazards to which their communities are vulnerable to. They also discussed what kind of activities should be conducted at the local level to raise awareness on DRR and increase their communities’ knowledge and skills to prevent and reduce disaster risks.

unct_mm_unv_news_5 May 17-2Khine, 20 years old, a newcomer to the DRR Youth Volunteer Network in Rakhine State revises the documentation. Photo by UNV Myanmar

“…benefiting oneself in serving for the benefit of others.”

Youth Volunteers also shared the reasons that push them to volunteer and become a part of this DRR Youth Volunteers’ Network. Not surprisingly, volunteerism is a principle anchored in Myanmar’s culture and tradition. The Myanmar traditional form of volunteerism translates as ‘benefiting oneself in serving for the benefit of others’. This makes volunteers highly respected among the general population. Volunteer networks have typically played a key role on providing services and support needed by the communities. According to research commissioned by UNV, those between 21 and 25 years old are more prone to volunteer, by as much as three times, compared to any other age bracket.

Mi Mi, 29, is one of the young girls that shared her experience. “My motivation is to share DRR awareness raising knowledge with community residents after the trainings.” she explained. Her last volunteer experience was for HIV prevention for communities with Women Group.

Khine, 20, a University student and a newcomer to DRR youth volunteers, explains “women reached nearly 70% population in my community. In addition to expanding my own knowledge of DRR and transfer it to the others, I would like also to learn how to do social work from this project and encourage more women to join the Network in my community.”

Kay Chit Maung, who joined the project at 33 years old, believes that DRR is necessary for community resilience.

Like Mi, Khine, and Kay Chit, the 450 DRR Youth Volunteers trained by the pilot project are very willing to help others and be an agent of change in their communities, families and neighborhoods.  They will use and share their DRR knowledge to help everyone, especially those who need it the most, including women, children, elderly, people with disabilities and people with diseases.

The kick-off event was a first step to increase the knowledge for the DRR Youth Volunteers. The next events in Rakhine State will take place in Mrauk-u and Kyaphyu Townships before the end of May.