May 8 is World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. Youth on the move is the theme for 2012 and we are calling upon young people to build on the existing Youth on the move initiative by taking action in one of three areas: helping communities better prepare in the face of increasing disasters, addressing health care in danger or inequitable access to health care, or building a culture of non-violence and peace. Here is one example of Red Cross Red Crescent youth in action.
Youth initiative – replanting, adapting to climate change
In an effort to raise environmental awareness among youth, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) developed the “Run, Plant and Care for the Mangroves and our Environment” project to help young people better prepare in the face of adverse climate change effects in the Compostela Valley province.
The mangrove project – helping communities better prepare for disasters
In response to the decline of mangrove forests, the planting of mangrove trees is encouraged as a rehabilitation activity to protect fishpond dykes and homes from sea surges and storm damage. In the Compostela Valley province, youth workshops by the PRC seek to rehabilitate and develop the local mangrove area as a fish sanctuary and tree park, as well as teach community members disaster preparedness and response skills. Youth involvement is critical as it ensures that the catalyst for change is lead by tomorrow’s local leaders.
• During the project’s first month of implementation in January 2012, seven disaster risk reduction orientation sessions took place in high schools and elementary schools within the Pantukan district and reached almost 800 participants, including mostly intermediate students, parents, faculty members and school administrators.
• A series of Red Cross Youth Council and disaster risk reduction activities have been conducted in three coastal municipalities: Maco, Mabini and Pantukan, as well as the Laak and Nabunturan municipalities. During these sessions, 13 schools and over 5,000 people participated to learn about topics such as mangrove management and the “Run, Plant and Care for the Mangroves” project, disaster risk reduction, international humanitarian law, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, and Philippine Red Cross services and volunteerism.
• To help fundraise for the project and to highlight the 22 April 2012 Earth Day celebrations, a “Run for Humanity” has been organized for all Davao region and nationwide runners, Red Cross youth, supporters and volunteers.
Key achievements and the way forward
In the first three months of the project’s implementation (January to March 2012), key achievements include:
• Over 6,000 people participated in activities related to the mangrove project, supporting tree planting and learning disaster preparedness skills.
• More than 1,000 trees have been planted with plans to reach 15,000 trees by the end of the year.
• The tree planting will enable a major source of livelihood for the future. Fishpond dykes will be protected so fish production can increase in the long-term. And seeds from the planted mangroves can eventually serve as suppliers of seeds that can be sold, providing an additional source of income.
• The ‘Run, Plant and Care for the Mangroves and our Environment’ project has also improved the way Philippine Red Cross youth, staff and volunteers view the effects of climate change in mangrove areas, making them feel more hopeful for the future.
Looking to the future, a mangrove tree park and nursery to help sustain rehabilitation activities will be established with local partners. It is expected to serve as a model in terms of disaster risk reduction and preparedness activities for other neighbouring villages and municipalities. By the end of the project, participating communities will also have at least one team of Red Cross volunteers trained in first-aid, CPR and disaster preparedness, so they can better respond to disasters and emergencies.