Y Care International CEO Adam Leach says young people are best placed to respond to natural disasters in their communities, as super El-Niño threatens communities around the world with disastrous flooding, droughts and harvest failure.
Nearly 20 years ago in 1997, living in Kenya I witnessed the devastation of El Niño that cost 23,000 lives globally, wrecked livelihoods and caused billions of dollars worth of damage. Predictions are that this year’s El Niño could be even stronger.
It’s become a commonplace, easily ignored, that the greatest suffering from poverty and disaster is for those least able to cope.
Today, we’re preparing for El Niño in much more volatile conditions – terror, war, mass refugees and migration – in a grossly unequal world.
But we better be prepared. El Niño – the build up of warm surface temperatures in the Pacific that distorts global weather patterns – threatens a long, snowy winter in UK.
In Africa, the Americas and Asia it is likely to result in disastrous flooding, droughts and harvest failure; leaving water, food and energy crises in its wake. This current El Niño is to blame for current drought conditions in Central America where we’re already supporting young rural farmers to increase their crop yields and prepare for disasters in Nicaragua.
Young people are often best placed to respond to disasters in their communities and with YMCAs across the world, we’ve provided training on disaster risk reduction (DRR) to more than 500 young people in the last six months. This training increases young people’s knowledge and understanding of the small actions they can take to reduce the risk of disasters in their own communities.
We’re now supporting YMCAs in Nicaragua and Honduras to develop an action plan to get ready for worsening drought conditions so they’re prepared if crops fail and food prices increase. Training on DRR will be given for even more young people over the next six months as well; Philippines is up next, in an area left devastated by Typhoon Haiyan nearly two years ago. In West Africa, still reeling from the impact of the Ebola outbreak, we’re continuing to support young people to build the skills they need to earn a decent income and to save for difficult times ahead. This will help them to feed themselves and their families even if food prices rise.
Adam Leach, Y Care International CEO
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