On 04 August 2018, ninety six newly elected members of the village youth council, participated in the Youth Leadership Forum of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management held at the Leyte Park Hotel in Tacloban City. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the event was organized by Kapwa Ko Mahal Ko Foundation (KKMK), one of the partner organizations of APP-Philippines Steering Committee and Technical Working Group implementing the Asian Preparedness Partnership (APP) initiative by ADPC. The participants in the forum came from Samar and Leyte – provinces which were severely devastated by Typhoon Haiyan several years back.

The objective of the forum was to enhance the knowledge, attitude and skills of the young leaders in reducing and managing disaster risks. Specifically, the event was organized to serve as a forum where the participants were introduced to disaster risk reduction and management concepts and the leadership role of the youth in preparing for and responding to emergencies. 

Dr. Orlando Mercado, PhD, KKMK President warmly welcomed the participants and delivered the inspirational message. He emphasized that projects focusing on disaster risk reduction should be sustainable and supported by local policies for institutionalization. “Loyalty to the institution rather than to the persons should be the prevailing culture in organizations since programs are discontinued when new set of government officials are replaced by newly elected individuals.”

Dr. Mel Capistrano, MPH, ADPC Country Representative in the Philippines, walked the participants through the conceptual framework on disaster risk reduction and management existing in the country. He also highlighted the five types of common hazards, at-risk elements in the community and the ten indicators of community readiness essential to developing a community disaster risk reduction and management plan. The said plan should consist of three basic elements namely: prevention and mitigation, vulnerability reduction and emergency preparedness for response program. Moreover, Dr. Capistrano also clarified the role of youth leaders for preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation and prevention of disasters.        

Ms. Cora de la Paz, one of the resource speakers, deliberated on the constitutional mandates for the said council. Since the youth council is the governing body of the youth assembly in every village, it is a powerful force that can influence the development of disaster risk reduction and management activities to promote nationalism, social responsibility and leadership.

As the youth council is voted by its members, this group of young leaders are tasked to promulgate resolutions in carrying out the objectives of the youth in villages. They also initiate programs designed to enhance the social, political, economic and intellectual, moral, spiritual and physical development of the members. The forum culminated in the drafting of a local policy based on the activities identified involving youth leaders and their meaningful participation in various phases of disaster management.