News Archive
Aug 21, 2014 - Sharing Experiences, Building Resilience
Youth Programme to strengthen resilience to disasters in Central America onboard Peace Boat in collaboration with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), through its Regional Office for the Americas

1-8 August 2014, 8 youth leaders from Central America had the opportunity to take part in a youth programme onboard Peace Boat together with the United Nations office Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) which focused on gaining new knowledge and skills and capacity building to work in disaster prevention and resilience building in their communities and countries. The programme took place during the Latin American segment of the 84th Global Voyage between the ports of Acajutla, El Salvador and Cristobal, Panama calling at the port of Corinto, Nicaragua. The youth from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica were joined by Margarita Villalobos, representative of the UNISDR and Peace Boat staff specializing in the field of disaster relief and prevention.

Please find below a report of the activities which took place written by the programme participants themselves.

The participants and coordinators arrive in El Salvador to start the programme
Friday August 1
El Salvador

August 1 was the day of our arrival in El Salvador. Two at a time, the representatives from Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama arrived at the airport and later met with the youth from El Salvador onboard the ship at the port of Acajutla. This was our first day onboard and we had dinner with the Founder and Director of Peace Boat, Yoshioka Tatsuya and spent our first night onboard.

Visit to Santa Tecla, a model city in the "Making Cities Resilient" Campaign
Saturday August 2
Santa Tecla, El Salvador

Early in the morning, we made our way to the district of Santa Tecla. This municipality is close to San Salvador and is a model city in the campaign "Developing Resilient Cities" promoted by the UNISDR. There, we had the opportunity to participate in an exchange about Disaster Risk Reduction with people from the municipality and institutions involved. We were received by the presiding Mayor, Ms Lourdes Campos and other civil servants. Mr. Jorge Melendez, General Coordinator for Civil Protection welcomed us with a few words which were followed by an explanation by officials about the current situation in the municipality and what makes it a "Resilient City". Through this lecture we were able to learn about the experiences of this community where leaders, adults, children and youth have been empowered.

In the afternoon, engineer, Alfredo Alvarenga guided us through some of the key memorial sites for the earthquake which affected the city in 2001 and talked to us about the relief, recovery and revitalization projects which have been carried out as a result of this disaster. At the end of the afternoon, we participated in an emergency drill in a park which has been assigned as a place of refuge in case of emergency and includes a water park which serves as a water reserve if needed. This time spent with the authorities in Santa Tecla gave us a good understanding of the hopes, the unity, the organisation and the group participation in the community.

In the evening, we returned to the ship for dinner and to set sail for Nicaragua.

Press Conference and Symposium onboard the ship in Nicaragua
Sunday August 3
Nicaragua, Corinto

n the morning, we had our first session onboard. Each of us gave a short presentation about our work in the area of disaster prevention, explaining about the procedures and projects which have been been put in place or are planned to take place to increase resilience to disaster in their cities or countries.

On arriving at the port of Nicaragua before midday, we greeted by a warm festival atmosphere full of colour and music. After lunch, we took part in a press conference which was attended by officials from the municipality, the deputy foreign minister, members of parliament and the well-known diplomat Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, M.M.

After the press conference, we attended a symposium on resilience and the role of youth. There Margarita Villalobos, representative of UNISDR explained about the 'Making Cities Resilient" campaign and Nadeisha Cisneros, a promoter of the campaign in Nicaragua told us how the campaign involving city mayors and the private sector is being promoted in Nicaragua through the work of volunteers. Mr Roland Osejo gave a presentation on the special case of community of Telica, a group of three cities by the side of a river who are working together on the theme of resilience. And Olman Valle told us about the work of SINAPRED in Nicaragua.

A number of youths from Sinapred and the Sandinista youth of Nagarote, Managua, Chinadega and Leon also took part in the symposium. After the symposium we went on a guided tour of the ship together and in the evening took part in a festival organised by the Minister of Tourism in Nicaragua and the Mayor of Corinto together with many participants from the ship. After 11pm we all gathered on the decks of the ship to bid farewell to the wonderful people of Corinto who had made us feel so welcome.

The participants meet in one of the public spaces onboard
Monday August 4 (onboard)

On this day we had a presentation on the context and management of disasters in Japan from Simon Rogers, Safety Officer at Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Centre. We learned about the importance of volunteers and the role which they played following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. We saw also the three most important points for disaster prevention and relief: take care of yourself, taking care of each other and taking care of the public.

In the afternoon, Margarita (representative of the office of the UNISDR) talked with us in more depth about the 10 points of the Making Cities Resilient Campaign. We learned about the number of resilient cities, cities involved in the campaign, model cities that are already involved in the campaign and the role of those who are involved in campaigning all over the world. We also learned about the tools available for us to promote the campaign in our own communities.

After this session, we met with the CC (communication coordinators) team or volunteer interpreters in the ship to prepare for our first introductory lecture the next day. We told them about the themes we were covering in our presentation and talked about the threats or risks of disaster that we are facing and how we are dealing with these in the region.

In the evening, we had dinner with Ricardo Navarro, an environmentalist and director of CESTA. We discussed human action and how development itself has been the cause of global warming from well-known examples such as fossil fuels, and the industry of the world's great powers and how these have had an impact on our communities.

Participants in the programme give a presentation on disaster risk and resilience in Central America
Tuesday, August 5 (onboard)

On the 4th day onboard we held an activity to understand better people from different cultures or other countries. This activity raised a number of themes which are connected to resilience, such as the issue of cross-border disasters.

In the afternoon, we gave a presentation to the participants on the ship. For this presentation, we worked in teams to identity eight threats common to the whole of the Central American region and each of the participants explained about a threat: landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, epidemics, volcanic eruptions, climate change and deforestation. Our presentation was translated from Spanish to Japanese and English by the group of volunteer interpreters onboard (the CCs) and at the end we were asked some very interesting questions by the audience.

Also in the afternoon, we took part in a exchange to share experiences with volunteers who had taken part in the Volunteer Leader Training Programme which had been developed onboard. They shared their experiences of living through the earthquake in Japan and how they became motivated to become volunteers as well as what they had learned during the onboard programme

The participants enjoy a cultural exchange during which they learned about Japanese culture..
Wednesday August 6
Passing through the Canal

On this day we passed through the Panama Canal, observing the various sites and enjoying the route while participating in a various activities on the decks of the ship. We started the day by the sharing our plans of action that each one of us had decided, based on what we had learned and shared onboard and in the ports. Previously, Maria explained about a game which she had developed for children and people living in communities to assist in learning and understanding and identification of risks to those communities and we realised through games and simple activities it is possible to engage the whole community so that they too can be involved in identifying risks and threats the community faces and to act to reduce the level of disasters .

During lunch, we met with the participants of the MAPA (Music, Art and Peace Academy) project organised onboard by Peace Boat US, who were participating in a programme about indigenous people in Central America.

In the evening the participants onboard the ship prepared a cultural show for us to introduce us to Japanese culture which included clothing, customs, dance, origami and calligraphy: it was quite surprising how disciplined they were in carrying out their activities which were all very well organized. They gave us a Tea Ceremony, wrote our names in Japanese, prepared a dance for us, made us origami and dressed us in traditional summer clothing (yukata).

Visit to the offices of UNISDR at the UN offices in Panama
Thursday, August 7

Very early in the morning, we gathered in the port of Cristobal to start our last day of activities. In the United Nations offices in Saber, representatives from the UN and the Civil Defence (Emergency Rescue Services) from Panama received us and we told them about our experiences with Peace Boat.

From there we left with staff from the Civil Defence to the Curundu Police Station where Ms. Minerva Gomez of Odebrecht gave us a presentation about a social and urban development project which had been put in place in an old settlement area. It was a great opportunity to see how the public sector led by the Minstery of Housing and the private company, Odebrecht worked together on this comprehensive resettlement project. It is an example and an inspiration for cities working on resilience, model which can be applied to different contexts and situations.

In the afternoon, we participated in a forum with different representatives and organisations in the Civil Defence Academy. Mr Omar Gonzalez from the Ministry of Economics and Finance, Ms. Marta Isabel, representative from the United Nations Population Fund, Juan Camilo Pinzon from the World Food Programme, a representative of CORELAC who work with children and adolescents and Ana Lucy Bengochea from the community platform for practitioners of resilience, GROOTS spoke to us about their work and how these relate to resilience building on different scales and in different situations.

To finish, we had our final closed session, during which we spoke about regional action plans and we made commitments as individuals and as a group to continue to make the most of your new connections, skills and knowledge.

This programme marked the launch of the relationship between Peace Boat and the ""Making Cities Resilient" Campaign by the UNISDR. In upcoming voyages, we will continue to organize activities onboard and in ports of call to raise awareness and commitment to disaster prevention and reduction including exchanges of experiences and ideas and best practices.

More information about the campaign:
- Web page for the International Campaign "Making Cities Reslient": Documents for download