Youths role as an influencer to Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction

The project “Strengthening Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers for Resilient Livelihood (SAKSHAM)” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland through FELM Nepal has been implemented by Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development (LI-BIRD) with the aim of enhancing the adaptive capacity of climate vulnerable communities in relation to the effects of climate change and climate induced disaster.

Climate change is rapidly escalating and natural disasters are becoming increasingly frequent and severe, Sudurpaschim Province of Nepal has possessed the greater threat towards the impact of climate change and induced disaster (MoFE, 2021). As a result, the province is subjected to summer floods and landslide as well as spring and winter drought. The co-occurrence of flooding and heat stress has impacted the lower region of Sudurpaschim province in yearly basis. Increased flooding in the low land results in the loss of lives and property. Additionally, water logging and increased heat stress has seen the problematic, especially for summer crops (WFP, 2021). While governments and organizations in this province are working towards mitigating these issues, one group of individuals has emerged as a potent force for change: the youth. In addition to having a strong commitment to combating climate change and induced disaster, today’s youth are also amazingly capable of organizing and generating awareness on a scale never seen before. This blog post focuses on the critical role that youth mobilization plays in campaigning for climate change knowledge and disaster risk reduction in order to empower communities.

With this approach, the project has initiated the three days Training of Trainers (TOT) to 26 youths’ emphasis on climate change adaptation and community-based disaster management approach in building the capacity of communities to assess their vulnerability to both human induced and natural hazard as well as developing strategies and resources necessary to mitigate the impacts of identified threats and respond to following its onset. The project supported the youths becoming the change makers in their own communities by equipping them with the information and abilities to consider climate action and nature-based solutions. These trained youths are the project’s key community actors for local advocacy and community mobilization. Additionally, trained youths were aware on meeting with the members of CDMC and disseminates information on identifying risk, preparing for possible disasters, and safety measures required to stay safe before, during, and after the disaster.

Photo: Mock drill on using stretcher in emergency during awareness/orientation session.

Regarding the selection of youths, the criteria for selection have been setup, and a notice has been posted on a municipality-level notice board. In order to document trained human personnel, the DRR department of each municipality received a list of the trained ToT youths as well. Mobilization of the CCA and DRR-trained youngsters, which has led to the allocation of matching funds from Local Government for awareness-raising. As an instance, Jorayal Rural Municipality has leverage NPR. 1,25,000 for awareness raising orientation to ward level stakeholders, including the task force and the ward level disaster management committee (WDMC). In order to raise awareness about the usage of DRR-related search and rescue supplies, a simulated drill was also held. Additionally, the trained youths were mobilized and involved in the ward and community settlement (tole) level planning process where they had shared and discussed the importance of CCA and community level DRR approach and its incorporation in municipal level annual development plan.

With the purpose of raising awareness to vulnerable communities on CCA and DRR and providing them with orientation, a total of 10 youths has been deployed till date. 244 community members in all, including 48 ward level disaster management committee members, have received orientation and technical knowledge. Trained youths provide the knowledge on the tasks and responsibilities of a community-based disaster management committee with prior preparation in emergencies as well as managing DRR-related documents with the assistance of the Climate Change and DRR Officer (LI-BIRD/SAKSHAM). Similar to this, members of the community, including WDMC, have been made aware on the causes and effects of climate change, its mitigation and adaption measures, nature-based solutions and the significance of integrating gender and disability-based technology with climate resilient agriculture practices into municipal annual development plans. Additionally, the community has also been made aware on the value of inclusivity during formation and updating of the disaster and climate resilient management committee at the community level. It would also be appropriate to highlight that 12 ToT youths have been mobilized to raise awareness on Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) at the local level. These youths have provided information on LSD detection, prevention, and control strategies to more than 1500 beneficiaries from 61 agricultural groups in three municipalities (Jorayal, Krishnapur and Laljhadi).

A case of Dinesh Rana as a motivator for awareness raising on CCA and DRR

Dinesh Rana, resident of Laljhai Rural Municipality-2, Kanj is one of the active member of Community based Disaster Management Committee (CDMC) from past 1 year. He has had a physical impairment since he was a little child, making it necessary for him to use a crutch to walk. He had a “B” category with a blue card, which denotes the requirement for outside assistance to manage everyday human work.

Despite his involvement in the CDMC, his lack of knowledge and expertise has prevented him from strengthening the committee or advocating for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation with the local government. Additionally, he lacks on technical expertise for employing DRR-related items in an emergency. Afterwards, he received instruction on the cause and effect of global warming with the impact and corresponding incidence of induced disasters during the three-day ToT course on CCA and DRR that LI-BIRD arranged. Also, made aware on inclusiveness of the community level climate change and disaster management committee and their roles in advocating at local level on incorporating climate change adaptation practices and community-based disaster preparedness in their local annual development plan. So, following the training, he had the opportunity to be mobilized in the field to raise awareness on CCA and DRR with the aid of the LI-BIRD/SAKSHAM project. He had given the community, CDMC, and WDMC the chance to receive orientation on the significance of climate change adaptation and community-based disaster risk reduction. Additionally, he also advocates with the local government in coordination with LI-BIRD/SAKSHAM to incorporate the climate resilient practices and technology including Community based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) and Nature-based Solution (NbS) in local level planning process with integration of gender and disability friendly environment.

He then conveys his emotions, “I’ve had the good fortune to participate in CCA and DRR awareness-raising activities, and I’ll be working hard in the coming days to advocate for the inclusion of community-based DRR strategies and nature-based solutions within the committee, WDMC, and local government. The communities and local government have yet to be fully awakened, but if ongoing assistance from the LI-BIRD is given, they will actively engage in lobbying for improvements related to disaster risk reduction and climate change. Finally, I’d want to express my gratitude to the LI-BIRD/SAKSHAM project for giving me this chance and for the assistance I may anticipate going forward.

Thus, youth mobilization for community-level awareness raising on climate change and disaster risk reduction is found to be a crucial and impactful initiative. Engaging young people in these efforts can help foster a sense of responsibility, empowerment, and urgency among future leaders and community members. LI-BIRD/SAKSHAM project also target these youths to be mobilized in local level planning and advocacy process during implementation period of time. Youths were thus anticipated to get support in the coming days for their efforts to raise awareness and to lobby their local government for building a resilient community. LI-BIRD also learned that such youth mobilization and capacity building should be jointly initiated with local government so that the sustainable engagement is assured from local government plans and programmes.

Photo: Group photo of the participants.