Youth Response in Humanitarian Settings

By: Anzaira Roxas, FPOP/Y-PEER Philipinas

How do you respond to young peoples needs, particularly around Sexual and Reproductive Health, in an emergency setting?

On the 16 December 2011, tropical storm Sendong (Washi) hit the northeastern coast of Mindanao in southern Philippines. The storm resulted in massive flooding that killed nearly 1,000 people and injured more than 1,500. Of the early 500,000 affected people, who were mostly in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in Northern Mindanao region (Region X), about 43,000 became refuge in Evacuation Centers (ECs) and about 242,000 moved to host families or to makeshift structures.

The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), as a member of the Reproductive Health Working Group (RHWG) that responds to reproductive health care needs during humanitarian setting, facilitated the mobilization of young people. FPOP works through its chapter youth volunteers and trained peer educators from Y-PEER (Youth Peer Education Network), for SRH responses during the week of the emergency period. YPEER is an international network of peer educators, and in the Philippines FPOP serves as the Focal Point-in-Charge.

FPOP youth volunteers, which numbered to as much as 50, were primarily involved in collecting data in the ECs for the rapid SRH needs assessment, conducting health information sessions and distribution of hygiene kits, dignity kits and teen kits.  Because there were numerous adolescents and young people in the ECs, youth volunteers started organizing health information sessions on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) and HIV.

As volunteers were conducting the health information sessions, youth volunteers realized and expressed the need for further training on ASRH, HIV and on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) issues so they can appropriately and adequately handle information sessions on them. The YPEER group was led by UNFPA’s Youth Advocate Emee Lei Albano, YPER Intenational Coordinator Mario Balibago, Anzaira Roxas the FPOP’s representative to YPEER, and was supported by Cécile Mazzacurati, Emergencies Specialist on ARH of the Humanitarian Response. The Youth Branch of UNFPA thought that a structured peer education training on SRHR during a humanitarian setting was a good vehicle to capacitate the youth volunteers. Hence, the group organized a peer education training following the module piloted by UNFPA in the Arab Region.

Do you want to know how it was conducted? Follow it up on the next blog post! 😀