International Consultant (DRR Youth Volunteer Programme Strategy Development)
United Nations Development Programme | Published April 2, 2015 - Deadline April 16, 2015
Myanmar is exposed to a wide range of natural hazards, triggering different types of small scale to large-scale disasters across the country’s territory. A total of 27 natural disasters have been recorded between 1980 and 2010, causing the death of approximately 140,000 people, and affecting the lives and livelihoods of 3.9 million people; an average of 125,000 people a year. By far the most devastating natural disaster in Myanmar’s history, cyclone Nargis tore through the Delta region in May 2008, affecting 2.4 million people and claiming the lives of 135,000. It is estimated that around 870,000 people in Myanmar live in areas that are exposed to cyclones, and a similar proportion are vulnerable to earthquakes, with two fault lines running through the country across some densely populated areas. Furthermore 440,000 people are vulnerable to flooding and 390,000 are exposed to drought. These risks are being further exacerbated due to processes attributed to climate change and variability.
Myanmar’s vulnerability to hazards is compounded by socio-economic factors: widespread poverty and poor infrastructures are at the heart of the country’s relatively low capability to recover from a significant event, be it natural or man-made. It is this combination of hazard vulnerability and low capacity which makes Myanmar the “most at-risk country” in Asia-Pacific according to the InfoRM model.
A positive impact of Cyclone Nargis was that it increased Government’s awareness of the need to plan and prepare for future disasters, and of the need for prevention, mitigation and community awareness activities. The Post-Nargis Response and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP) developed by the Tri-Partite Core Group (TCG) outlined ways to reduce hazards and limit the effect of future disasters. Myanmar is one of the 168 countries that endorsed the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and is also a signatory of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), which came into force in 2009. The AADMER is a proactive regional framework for cooperation, coordination, technical assistance, and resource mobilization in all aspects of disaster management, and the first legally binding HFA-related instrument.
In order to meet regional and international commitments on DRR, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MSWRR) published the Myanmar Action Plan on Disaster Risk Reduction (MAPDRR) in 2009 with the goal ‘To make Myanmar Safer and more Resilient against Natural Hazards, thus Protecting Lives, Livelihood and Developmental Gains’. The Government officially endorsed MAPDRR in 2012, in an effort to provide greater impetus for DRR work in Myanmar. The document was updated to reflect the political changes in the country and the post-Nargis environment characterized by a multiplicity of natural hazards. The Government of Myanmar continued to demonstrate its commitment to DRR by introducing a Disaster Management Law, in 2013 and assorted Rules and Regulations currently awaiting Cabinet’s approval. MAPDRR provides the foundations for the youth volunteer programme, particularly component 6 on community-based disaster preparedness and risk reduction, and within that project 6.3: Promoting Community based Disaster Risk Reduction Volunteerism.
To support the Government’s efforts on DRR, the Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG) was established in 2008 and has since grown into a diverse network of more than 60 agencies and organizations working for DRR interventions in Myanmar. The DRRWG is characterized by high levels of commitment, broad participation and a strong partnership relation with the line Government Unit, the Department of Relief and Resettlement under the MSWRR. The DRRWG provides the umbrella under which most of the DRR activities are being designed, agreed and implemented and, as such, will play a key role in the strategy development process.
Rationale of the consultancy
In 2014, in an attempt to reinforce their capacities in CBDRR and in line with MAPDRR, the Relief and Resettlement Department launched the DRR youth volunteer programme with the aim of raising disaster awareness at the grassroots level and improving communities’ knowledge of early warning systems. The volunteers are also seen as first responders, the operational arm of township disaster management committees, and are expected to play a role of interface between the community and external service providers for DRR, as well as response and recovery activities.
With this goal in mind, RRD rolled-out an initial training program in a short timeframe, which has benefitted 3000 volunteers (30% women) from over 800 villages in 14 Regions and States as of March 15. The training follows a cascade approach whereby training is provided to a number of master trainers at district level, following which they conduct multiplier trainings at township level. The volunteers ultimately receive a 3-day course on Disaster Risk Reduction that covers issues such as “understanding risks and natural hazards of Myanmar”, “DRM approaches: Preparedness, response and recovery”, “disaster resilience and safer development”, etc. UN-Habitat and ADPC, which have supported several of the trainings technically and/or financially, have collected and/or documented key lessons learnt.
RRD is facing financial limitations to scale up training programs and provide trained volunteers with basic equipment, including early warning equipment, IEC and training materials, etc. Issues of complementarity and coordination with existing volunteer networks, in particular the Myanmar Red Cross Society, also need to be addressed to ensure that there is a clear and shared understanding of the division of roles and responsibilities on the ground. The programme has not received the level of support expected, mostly due to the fact that it lacks a clear strategic vision and road map that would lay down its objectives, operationalization plan, sustainability mechanisms and linkages with existing institutional frameworks at national and sub-national levels. This includes clarifying the role of the volunteer programme vis a vis the planned Community Disaster Resilience Framework, the National Policy and Program on CBDRR (MAPDRR projects 6.1 and 6.2), and the roll-out of the social protection strategy through integrated social protection services aimed to provide a comprehensive response to all types of vulnerabilities. It is also important to clarify the linkages between the youth volunteer programme and the National Disaster Management Training Centre established by the Government of Myanmar in 2014.
The DRR Working Group is committed to support RRD’s DRR youth volunteer programme. Three members of the DRR WG, namely UNDP, UNICEF and UNV, have technical and financial resources available to support the development of a strategic framework for the youth volunteer programme, which will enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of RRD’s ongoing efforts. This will be done through the hiring of an international consultant commissioned jointly by all three agencies in support of RRD, and who will work in close coordination with the DRR WG as a whole. The strategic framework will constitute the foundations upon which the DRR WG can continue to engage and support the youth volunteer programme.
The consultancy will managed by UNDP Myanmar but the consultant will receive guidance from a committee made of representatives from UNDP, UNICEF and UNV, and will work in direct support of RRD. Additionally, the consultant will work in close collaboration with the DRR Working group of Myanmar.
The overall objective of the intervention is to support RRD in developing a strategic framework for the DRR youth volunteer programme to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of the programme (including but not limited to: vision and mission, objectives, costed road map for implementation and resource mobilization strategy).