There is no universally defined age group for the term youth. Many countries draw the line at the age at which a person gets equal treatment under the law. The United Nations defines youth as persons between the age of roughly 15-24. This definition and nuances of the term youth vary from country to country, depending on the economical and cultural factors.

According to the United Nations statistics (2019), there are around 1.2 billion young people accounting for about 16% of the global population. These young minds can be a positive force for sustainable development and disaster resilience when provided with the right knowledge and opportunities to thrive. Youth can play a variety of roles in youth preparedness programs and in recovery efforts. 

International Youth Day 2022 focuses global attention on actions needed across all generations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), without leaving anyone behind. This year’s theme aligns with PEER’s efforts toward developing a force of young community volunteers in the field of disaster response. PEER seeks to train volunteers through its Community Action for Disaster Response (CADRE) course to make the best use of a community’s youth in managing and reducing the impact of disasters. CADRE introduces the pertinent issues of first aid, basic life support and light search and rescue operations. It seeks to empower the community by reducing its dependence on external support. 

PEER has identified the National Youth Corps (NYC), Sri Lanka as a potential institute for integrating CADRE into its training programs and budgets. Integration of the course involves developing skilled PEER instructors, who would ensure the sustainability of CADRE at NYC with minimal support from PEER in future training. 

NYC is the pioneer state training institute dedicated to youth development. It is under the purview of the Ministry of Youth and Sports with around 58 training centers. It is well-known for its unique training modules varying from soft skills, to academic, vocational and recreational training.

NYC has incorporated disaster management programmes in their existing training, under the guidance of the Provincial Directors at the training centers with support from the Disaster Management Center.

As a preliminary step to embed CADRE, sixteen instructors of NYC are being trained on CADRE basic and instructor courses. With the newly built instructor capacities, it is proposed to integrate the CADRE course into the annual training program of NYC. PEER plans to locally translate all the course material to penetrate deeper into the local communities. 

Investing in the youth of today will open new doors to resilience and sustainability. PEER seeks to maximize the potential of these leaders of tomorrow for effective disaster preparedness and response.

Cover photo by Freepik