Empowering Youth to Promote Disaster Risk Reduction in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Kingstown, SVG (October 21, 2014) – At the request of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), with local community partners and funding from the Government of Taiwan, has launched an innovative 16-month project that engages youth to reduce risks associated with climate change and natural hazards, while providing them with opportunities to make their communities more sustainable.

The project, “Resilient Livelihoods: Supporting Youth and Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation,” is funded by Taiwan. It will empower youth as agents for change to adapt disaster risk reduction and climate change measures in their lives, their communities, and their employment.

  • Youth to promote disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in local communities
  • Promote economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable livelihoods that provide appropriate job opportunities to unemployed youth.
  • Improve community resilience by engaging residents in youth-led disaster risk reduction implementation

Bau-Shuan Ger, Ambassador to Taiwan in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said: “PADF’s approach to disaster risk reduction is based on operational experience gained over many years in communities such as those in Haiti and Honduras…I believe that this project will be another success as well.”

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Working with the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, PADF will support local initiatives to implement disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as part of national development goals by utilizing a holistic, integrated approach to improve livelihoods in vulnerable communities. PADF is collaborating closely with St. Vincent’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and facilitating coordination among other important stakeholders, such as the Red Cross of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other government ministries. The project focuses on disaster risk reduction and targets youth as a group that can spearhead climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives in their communities.

At the project’s launch event, Director of NEMO Howie Prince stated that “building resilience calls for a mindset of changing the culture and the thinking of what we do, to the way that we do business, to the way we go about our daily lives. It calls for a shift in the way people do things….we are, therefore, very supportive of this initiative today.”

The project will provide training to youth in three targeted areas, namely Georgetown, Bequia, and Cumberland Valley, which have communities with significant social, environmental, and economic vulnerability. Training will include: disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, community-based risk reduction, first aid/CPR, participatory risk assessment, hazard mapping and assessment. Through the project, PADF will also provide youth with opportunities to design and implement risk-reduction projects in their communities, as well as enable youth to institutionalize their new skill sets in the work force through apprenticeships and active participation in and support to Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).

PADF will utilize a livelihood-centered approach to disaster management to:

  • Develop a corps of informed, skilled, and dedicated youth who reduce risks associated with natural hazards and climate change in the short and long term.
  • Promote youth as active agents of change in their lives and in their communities.
  • Promote economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable livelihoods that provide appropriate job opportunities to unemployed youth.

Resilience will be strengthened at all levels through community participation, new youth partnerships with NEMO, empowered youth with hard and soft employable skills, improved community relations with youth, and private sector engagement for sustained investment and employment opportunities.

“With access to information and opportunities, youth can be key change-makers through sharing their informed views, bringing fresh ideas to the table, and influencing the future of decision-making in disaster management, climate change adaptation, and resource allocation,” said Chris Ashton, Project Coordinator.

This is the third disaster risk reduction project that PADF has launched under the PADF Taiwan Regional Disaster Assistance and Reconstruction Program, an innovative partnership that combines multiple interventions in the Latin American and Caribbean region including project implementation; peer-to-peer learning; internships and international awareness raising activities and workshops combining research leaders and responsible government agencies, all focused on disaster mitigation and risk reduction.

PADF’s initial disaster preparedness project called the Haiti/DR Disaster Mitigation Project helped reduced the impact of natural disasters in South East Haiti and the South East border region of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The second initiative called the Neighborhood-Based Approach to Disaster Risk Reduction for Highly Vulnerable Hillside Communities in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was a 13-month disaster risk reduction project that helped mitigate the impact of natural hazards on one of Tegucigalpa's most vulnerable hillside neighborhoods.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Camillo Gonsalves, concluded the official project launch event by saying, “I very much applaud this project. I wish it all success and whatever the Government of SVG can do to facilitate the efficient operation of this project and whatever support we can offer, we certainly will….and I hope this is just the first step in a long relationship with PADF.”

About PADF

PADF is the non-profit foundation of the Organization of American States, established in 1962 to implement integral socio-economic development programs for disadvantaged people, to strengthen civil society and community groups in support of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and to aid victims of natural disasters and humanitarian crises. In 2013, it helped more than 10 million people in 22 countries. Locally registered in St. Vincent and headquartered in Washington DC, PADF maintains field offices and projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.www.padf.org

For more information, please contact:

Christobelle Ashton
Resilient Livelihoods Project Coordinator, PADF-SVG
cashton@padf.org
+1.784.456.1583

Liza Mantilla
Director of Disaster Management
lmantilla@padf.org
202.458.3731

Nicole Whalen
Program Assistant
nwhalen@padf.org
202.458.6181

Hearly G. Mayr
Director of Communications and Public Affairs
hmayr@padf.org
202.280.3846 (cell)