Asia and the Pacific
In Colombo, Sri Lanka, UN Volunteer Alex Suwitra acted to anchor the engagements of UN agencies, international partners, NGOs and government and safeguard the immediate and longer term disaster response to the needs of communities in distress.
The unique geography of the country that makes it more susceptible to the effects of climate change creates a very contrasting situation – floods and landslides in the southwest parts and drought in Sri Lanka’s north and east regions.
The partnership of UNV, IBSA Fund and the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport aimed to increase the ability of Cambodian youth to build their skills and find decent work through volunteerism, as well as contribute better to their own development and the economic development of their country by reducing poverty amongst youth.
Myanmar is highly susceptible to natural disasters and ranks second out of 187 countries in the 2016 Global Climate Risk Index. Prolonged conflict fuelled by ethnic tensions has exacerbated Myanmar’s vulnerability to natural disasters, so much so that the Government of Myanmar has placed emergency response and disaster preparedness at the top of its priority list.
"I was teaching a session on parliamentary systems in a village outside Hyderabad in Sindh province to a crowd of 50 labourers, and decided to tell shopkeepers and shepherds – who all happened to be men. After I delivered the teaching materials, I told them a little bit about myself, my education background and my volunteer work with UNDP."
I wanted them to see me beyond my gender. I wanted them to see that women and girls can also lead, if given the right schooling and education opportunity. --national UN Volunteer with UNDP Fatima Rind
In August 2017, the humanitarian situation in the Rakhine State of Myanmar triggered a large influx of Rohingya civilians to cross into Bangladesh to Cox's Bazar. Since then, an estimated 655,000 Rohingyas refugees have crossed into Bangladesh, increasing the total Rohingya population residing in the Cox's Bazar area to over 866,000. The speed and scale of the refugee influx has resulted in a critical humanitarian emergency that is being handled by UN agencies, other humanitarian partners and volunteers.
It was a normal sunny day when I was going through my center unit visits. The birth center, popularly known as Kutupalong Registered Camp (RC), was unusually filled with a rowdy gathering of male outside the center and filled with women inside the labor room.
On seeing me, the midwives on duty rushed me inside the center’s labour room only to find a young first-time mother in extreme labour. They confirmed that the mother’s situation was dire, complicated and life threatening.
Imagine living close to a river and not knowing if and when the rivers will rise above normal levels. Imagine a large wave of rain flooding your land, destroying your home while washing away your dear belongings. This was the reality of many Laotians during the rainy season in 2018.
This phase of the project engaged four community volunteer groups from Khaizi, Hazara, Sariyab and Nawa Killi, to develop radio programmes. In total, 35 female and 25 male community volunteers were trained on ICT, radio production, script writing and broadcasting and ran the community radio for the duration of one year.
On average, one radio programme was produced every 2-3 weeks. In total, 15 radio programmes were developed in one year and aired on FM101 during prime-time hours. An estimated 160 to 250 listeners tuned in for each programme.
Sri Lanka is identified as one of the major hotspots of climate change (according to a report by the World Bank, a hotspot is a location where changes in average weather affects the living standards negatively). Some 4 million people in the country are projected to be severely affected by 2020, thus it is imperative to know exactly how and how disastrous the consequences of this threat will be.
1. Agriculture and Agricultural Productivity
My UN Volunteer assignment dates back to the late 1990s. At that point, I was already working with UNDP in the Lao PDR, so serving as volunteer offered additional learning and networking opportunities.
Being one of the largest UNV programmes at the time, the Lao PDR had a strong and diverse group of UN Volunteers that I became part of. An Orientalist, I always drew my motivation from building country capacities and learning local cultures.