Over 14,000 primary and secondary school students along with their teachers have been recipients of extensive awareness campaigns aimed at enhancing Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) knowledge.

Spearheading this initiative is Rebecca Sam, the Support Youth and Volunteer officer at Vanuatu Red Cross Society (VRCS). She said their primary focus is on engaging with young people and volunteers interested in contributing to the society.

Their ongoing work includes the implementation of various programs, notably the International Youth Cooperation Project (IYCP).

Detailing the achievements of this endeavor, Sam mentioned several key accomplishments. These include conducting school-based DRR training for teachers, provincial education officers, and VRCS youth volunteers.

Additionally, they’ve successfully established school disaster committees and facilitated the development of school disaster management and safety plans.

Moreover, various training sessions on DRR and First Aid have been organised for targeted school students, teachers, and disaster committee members.

Under this project, significant milestones have been achieved, such as signing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) and Provincial Education Officers, and prepositioning Disaster Emergency Kits across 35 targeted schools nationwide.

Sam further elaborated on the recent volunteer inductions conducted in different regions, aiming to equip volunteers with the necessary knowledge and skills. The project is currently in its third phase, which commenced in January 2024 and is scheduled to conclude in December 2026.

The overarching goal of the project is to bolster community resilience to natural disasters in Vanuatu through comprehensive school-based DRR initiatives.

Key outcomes include enhancing the capacity of schools to teach DRR and preparedness, improving disaster knowledge among students and teachers, and strengthening the youth volunteer network within the VRCS.

Going into the specifics, Sam outlined the targeted schools across various provinces, spanning from SANMA to TAFEA. Despite their commendable efforts, the project has encountered challenges, notably logistical hurdles due to Vanuatu’s geographical terrain and transportation networks.

Additionally, natural hazards like the Ambae volcano eruption in 2017 posed significant obstacles, leading to the temporary suspension of activities in affected areas.

To address these challenges and expand their volunteer base, the VRCS encourages interested youths to collect and fill out Volunteer Registration Forms available at VRCS branches nationwide.

Notably, this IYCP receives funding from the Japanese Red Cross and operates in close collaboration with government entities like MoET, Provincial Education authorities, School Principals, and various Non-Governmental Organisations.