Youth are future assets in disasters

Society must partner with youth in creating innovative solutions for a resilient future, according to a young humanitarian professional.
Sandra Uwantege Hart, Pacific Cash and Livelihoods Advisor at Oxfam Vanuatu has outlined her vision for the next generation, at the Pacific Resilience Partnership Meeting in Fiji.
As hazards such as volcanoes, cyclones and earthquakes become more frequent and powerful, Ms Hart believes that youth are an important resource to a resilient tomorrow.
“In a post-climate change world where our islands are constantly changing, where our environments are inherently unpredictable, where natural disasters are more frequent and powerful each year that passes, these two elements-youth and innovation, are critical to finding solutions,” she said.
“The next generation of disaster assistance and recovery must be brought to us by the next generation of our leaders. These are our youth: the largest and fastest growing population in the region today.”
She is also the Designer of the Ambae’s Cash Transfer Programme (CTP), the first and largest cash transfer program ever implemented in the region.
During disasters donor partners and the government usually deliver food supplies and tarpaulins or building materials as relief during emergencies. CTP is a new way of delivering humanitarian assistance in the form of a cash transfer.
Ms Hart took the opportunity during the regional meeting to discuss how youth in Vanuatu have taken a lead in the program to help families that were displaced by volcano eruptions recover their livelihoods.
“These individuals have grown through a whirlwind experience – thousands of surveys, hundreds of sites, having touched the lives of over 20,000 people, and now are leading the pack in testing cutting-edge technology in what many would consider to be a low-tech environment,” Ms Hart said.
“The minds of these youth – and others – are open to new approaches.
“They are natural, out-of-the-box thinkers, they are rallying to have their voices heard and their impact felt and most of all, they are tireless. After all, we are working for their own futures and those of their peers and their children. We need to remember that. They will inherit this earth.
“This is the next generation – the future is innovation, and innovation thrives in the minds of the actions of our youth”.
She said Vanuatu’s CTP Programme has demonstrated that society needs fresh minds to solve new and changing problems.
“We need to change our approach to disaster preparedness and response while the impacts of climate change are upon us,” she added.
‘Youth future in a resilient Pacific’ is the theme of the inaugural Pacific Resilience Partnership meeting held in Suva, Fiji from 1 – 3 May, 2019.

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