South-South Cooperation: Lessons from the Philippines on the Roles and Needs of Young People in a Disaster

5 January 2015


Group photo of the Training Workshop on ASRH in Humanitarian Settings


Tagaytay, 12 December 2014 - Young people require special attention in times of disaster. In the aftermath of a natural or human-made emergency, young people are at greater risk of sexual and gender-based violence, early marriage and exposure to STIs and HIV. They can also be a valuable resource in humanitarian efforts. However, their needs and capabilities are often overlooked in disaster management planning.


To address this gap, UNFPA Indonesia in collaboration with UNFPA Philippines organized a ‘Training Workshop on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) and Youth Engagement in Humanitarian Settings’ from 8-11 December 2014. Held in Tagaytay in the Philippines, the workshop was supported by the Population Commission (PopCom) and Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), and was attended by a delegation of 20 youth leaders and humanitarian programmers from Indonesia. The workshop was conducted as part of the ongoing South-South Cooperation partnership between Indonesia and the Philippines.


At the workshop, participants turned their focus to the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents (aged 10-15) and youth (aged 15-24), together referred to as young people. The participants defined and discussed the basic concepts of ASRH and the risks confronting young people during a humanitarian response. They also studied guidelines and other tools for managing ASRH in a humanitarian setting, from the stage of disaster preparedness through the response stage to recovery and rehabilitation.



Sharing session on the youth and humanitarian response programmes in the Philippines


Aside from developing ways to respond to young people’s needs in an emergency, participants at the workshop also discussed ways for youth to get involved in humanitarian response. Participants from Indonesia, including several youth representatives, gained the skills and knowledge to attend to their peers in times of disaster and crisis via fun, interesting and interactive in-the-field training. The participants further discussed ways in which youth and ASRH information and services can ensure that young people become actors in development beyond the setting of a humanitarian response.


As archipelagic nations situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia and the Philippines suffer from frequent natural disasters that result in numerous deaths, environmental degradation and heavy economic losses. Under the framework of South-South Cooperation, which has been ongoing between the two countries since 2012, work has mainly focused on lessons from Indonesia on the engagement of religious leaders in family planning, and lessons from the Philippines on the successful decentralization of family planning and reproductive health. In the Tagaytay workshop, the focus of the partnership was expanded to ASRH and youth engagement in disaster and crisis response.


Mr. Jose Ferraris, UNFPA Representative in Indonesia, in his opening remarks emphasized that young people have both needs and roles to play in the event of a disaster.


“We have brought members of UNFPA Indonesia’s Youth Advisory Panel with us today, not only to include them in discussions that are relevant to them and their peers, but in the hope that young people like them can be prepared to follow the example of the Philippines in taking a leading role to support young people’s reproductive rights during a humanitarian crisis,” he said.


His counterpart Mr. Klaus Beck, as UNFPA Representative in the Philippines, gave a special welcome to the young Indonesian delegation, and agreed that young people have an important role to play in supporting humanitarian efforts during a disaster response.


“I am very happy to meet you young people, the future of not only Indonesia, but of the world,” he said. “As you’ve seen, young people can do a lot in humanitarian situations. There are different types of humanitarian situations − where one can prepare for it; and one that is unexpected. The lesson is that no one organization can handle disaster alone: coordination and partnership is very important.”


Development partners, including UN agencies, have developed their humanitarian response programmes to offer rapid assistance during disasters. Support is often provided to displaced populations, and especially to young children, pregnant women, mothers and the elderly. The Governments of Indonesia and the Philippines have also established disaster preparedness programmes to enable local governments, communities, and various public and private agencies to respond quickly to natural disasters.


The training workshop in the Philippines expanded the focus on young people as a vulnerable group in times of disaster, while also highlighting this group’s potential to help others – a valuable reminder for all agencies and institutions involved in managing disasters in Indonesia and the Philippines.



Indonesian young people actively participated in the training