Planting the ‘Seeds of Resilience’ for the Future Generation

To engage youth in Ambon City on the topic of climate change adaption, USAID APIK and the Maluku Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Forum, a local government working group, conducted a “Governor Teaching” event for 800 students. During the event the Maluku Governor, Ir. Said Assagaff, emphasized the importance of climate change awareness. Maluku Province is an archipelago of thousands of small islands in eastern Indonesia with a high-risk rating: based on the data from Maluku Provincial Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), there are 12 main disaster risks in the province, including floods, flash floods, extreme waves and coastal erosion, drought, storms, and landslides being the most frequent disaster event in the province.

Facing those challenges, Governor Assagaff realized that youth have an important role in reducing disaster risk and spreading the message on climate change adaptation strategies. He announced, “It is important to integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction issues into curriculum and education materials in school, since Maluku has a high disaster risk. I want this to be finalized within the next year.” BPBD, the Local Education Agency (Dinas Pendidikan), and Maluku Disaster Risk Reduction Forum have stated their commitment to follow up with the Governor’s instruction. USAID APIK will support these parties.

Gubernur Mengajar_0.jpg
Participants of "Governor Teaching" is giving their responses while the Maluku Governor, Said Assagaff (sitting, front left) is taking notes.

During the event, BPBD shared what youth can do to improve communities’ resilience: through developing disaster risk maps at school, formulating Standard Operating Procedures on disaster management, and conducting simulations as well as sharing the information with their families. Prior to the event, USAID APIK also raised awareness on climate change adaptation through a school bulletin board competition. In total, 36 schools participated in the Governor-led event and 9 schools participated in the competition. 

Learning about climate, especially when presented by the number one figure in Maluku [Governor Assagaff] is really cool. We as students can understand the climate and how to manage disaster,” enthused Nandito Topurtawi from the Ambon Vocational Senior High School 3.

The event was a collaborative effort between USAID APIK and the Maluku Disaster Risk Reduction Forum, provincial government agencies, as well as state-owned enterprise Pelindo. USAID APIK believes that multi stakeholder participation and contribution is critical, as improving resilience is not something that can be achieved alone.

Children are particularly vulnerable to climate change and weather-related disasters. However, when empowered, they have a critical role to improve communities’ resilience. Today’s generation will be especially affected by climate change with greater intensity of floods, drought, and more frequent extreme weather events in the future. Youth in high school can only listen to their parents’ stories about playing beach soccer or volleyball because the nearby coastline and beaches are now mostly gone. In cities, young people experience some of the worst impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, and as the world’s urban population grows, the magnitude of this problem will only increase.

Despite these concerns, only a minority of climate policies and plans specifically address children’s and young people’s needs. To fill this gap, USAID APIK also engaged with youth in Malang City to commemorate World Meteorology Day on March 23. During the event, students learned about weather forecasting platforms such as Info BMKG to receive and share information and thus prepare for extreme weather. USAID APIK has held several other youth-focused events and will continue to do so in collaboration with local government and other partners.

When the next generation is equipped to understand disaster risks and can easily access weather information, USAID APIK believes they will be better able to prepare for disasters now and in the future, improving their resilience. They can also be messengers and share their skills and understanding with their peers and parents who may have less access to information and lower technological capacity. USAID APIK will continue to focus on youth as this is critical to developing communities’ resilience, especially information gathering and how to prepare for and recover from disasters.