Credits to the article: Marikris de Guzman, ASEAN Youth Network for DRR

The Asia-Pacific region is the most disaster-prone area of the world and among it, the ASEAN countries are the most seriously affected. With increasing exposure and vulnerability to disaster risks, future generations will live with growing climate-related threats and displacement caused by inter-communal conflicts.

Young people continue to be at the forefront of humanitarian action. Through the efforts during World Humanitarian Summit, ASEAN saw the long-awaited partnership between the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre (AHA), the regional coordinating body for national disaster agencies, and the volunteers of Committee for ASEAN Youth Cooperation (CAYC), the regional coordinating body for national youth councils. Through a new platform called the ASEAN Youth Network for DRR (AYN-DRR), ASEAN youth are now involved in the regional discourse of disaster management from public information to capacity building and deployment.

One of the key points of collaboration is through the ASEAN-ERAT, which was “envisioned to strengthen ASEAN’s preparedness and capacity to respond to disasters, and ensure the rapid and collective deployment of ASEAN’s resources following a major disaster in one or more Member States within the ASEAN region.” The main objective of this Induction Course is to prepare regional responders, including youth volunteers, with technical skills and knowledge in emergency management and coordination in the ASEAN region.

In August 2016, the 6th ERAT was held in Subic Bay, Olongapo City, Philippines. Francelline Jimenez, our volunteer from the Philippines, joined other humanitarian workers, DRR professionals, and first responders in a 10-day training course. The course included a deeper appreciation of the regional and national mechanisms on disaster management and cooperation, after which Francelline was also deployed with the ERAT team to respond to Typhoon Haima. They visited the affected areas in Cagayan and Kalinga, in support of the monitoring efforts conducted by the regional and national disaster offices.

“Previous ERAT training was attended by representatives from National Disaster Management Agencies, but for the first time, representatives from non-government organizations and the private sector were included, as a recognition of the role they play in disaster response. as well as how to personify the values of One ASEAN, One Response to the affected communities.“ – Francelline

This year, in April, the 7th ERAT was held in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Throughout the course, our volunteer from Malaysia, Ridhwan Rahim gained technical knowledge of GPS, navigation, and mapping in technical and scientific ways.

“A sharing of how each ASEAN member state’s strategy on disaster management was also conducted during the course. This is one of the crucial parts in addition to the course modules of disaster management because we were able to learn the existing and best practices in the region.” – Ridhwan

The engagement of ASEAN youth and regional institutions is important because the young generation is the backbone of the region. By working together with the local youth who are familiar and aware of the affected areas during any disaster situation, the youth have enormous potential to serve as leaders, supporting members, and volunteers in working with their own home countries, and the region at large in the event of disasters – both natural, and man-made.