IFRC: World’s youth are key to reducing the impacts of disasters

Publié: 13 octobre 2011
Greenhouse Project, North Eastern Province Girls Secondary School, Garissa, North Eastern Kenya. Jonathan Kalan/IFRC

October 13th 2011, Geneva - Children and young people have more influence in preparing their communities for disasters and reducing the impacts than any other demographic group, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

This statement by Bekele Geleta, the Secretary General of the IFRC, coincides with the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction which, given the high number and intensity of disasters in 2011, has particular significance this year.

“Young people are some of the most affected during disasters because they often have difficulties in coping with unexpected and painful interruptions to their lives,” said Geleta. “However, they are also the very people who can teach the world how to reduce the risks from disasters because they are unmatched by any other demographic group and many organisations in their ability to act as agents of behavioural change.”

Almost half of the 13 million Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers worldwide are young people who play a key role in preparing for disasters and mitigating the impacts because they live in, and can best influence, the communities that are affected.

According to Geleta, the Red Cross Red Crescent movement not only pays special attention to their needs when disasters strike, but also successfully engages young people in the design and implementation of disaster risk reduction programmes.

“We recognise their unique role and the value they can provide as innovators, inter-cultural ambassadors, peer-to-peer facilitators, community mobilizers and advocates for vulnerable people.”

Red Cross Red Crescent youth led programming has proven to be effective even in the most challenging of environments, such as the Kwale communities in drought stricken Kenya, where young volunteers worked to raise their awareness on the causes and effects of climate change and the ways in which they could adapt. As a result, communities improved their early warning and preparedness systems, updated the community disaster response plan and improved sustainable food supply through the promotion of innovative farming methods.

“Young people are leading the way in many communities around the world to prepare for the increasing number of disasters and longer term emergencies such as drought,” said Geleta.

“The IFRC is urging governments and all decision makers to involve young people in their approach to preparing for disasters and reducing the impacts that they have in their communities. Specifically, we are calling on those who influence the funding, programme development and implementation of disaster risk reduction activities to recognize young people as powerful agents of change; encourage their unique abilities and skills such as intercultural communication and innovation in technology and thought; engage them in public awareness and education; involve them in decision making and planning at all levels; to push hard for young people to have a stronger role in programme development and implementation in their own communities and educate, elevate and empower young people by sharing responsibility and decision making in a genuine partnership.”

For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact: In Geneva:
• Jessica Sallabank, senior media officer Mobile +41 799 481148 – E-mail jessica.sallabank@ifrc.org

In Nairobi:
• Nancy Okwengu, communications officer, IFRC East Africa
Mobile : +254  733 632 946 – E-mail : nancy.okwengu@ifrc.org

In Johannesburg:
• Faye Callaghan, communications manager, IFRC Africa
Mobile: +27 71 895 2774   – E-mail: faye.callaghan@ifrc.org


La Fédération internationale des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge constitue, avec ses 190 Sociétés nationales membres, le plus vaste réseau humanitaire du monde. En tant que membres du Mouvement international de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge, nous sommes guidés dans notre travail par sept Principes fondamentaux: humanité, impartialité, neutralité, indépendance, volontariat, unité et universalité.