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Growing Volunteer Army to Tackle Natural Disasters in India

18th December 2018
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Almost 90,000 youngsters aged between 15 and 30 have already signed up to the Kerala Voluntary Youth Action Force

A fter a swathe of heart-breaking stories relating to natural disasters, it was wonderful to read something heart-warming in this week’s news. According to The News Minute, India has a growing army of volunteers dedicated to saving lives. The Kerala Voluntary Youth Action Force (KVYAF) has amassed some 86,000 registered youngsters already. The aim is to build a taskforce some 1million strong over coming years.

The KVYAF hit the headlines earlier this year following the devastating floods in Kerala. Now these youngsters are being trained to combat natural disasters by the Kerala State Youth Welfare Board.

The Kerala taskforce will reportedly be split into five ‘armies’: environmental conservation army, water conservation army, waste disposal army, road protection army and the disaster management army.

T hey will also receive physical training and “mental conditioning” from experts in order that they can enter disaster zones and deal with as many obstacles as possible. Volunteers will also be trained in handling various situations during the time of a disaster as well as in “spreading awareness about issues such as road safety [and] environmental pollution”.

An official from the Kerala Youth Welfare Board told The News Minute (TNM) that the initiative is supported by the Kerala Government and the youth welfare board of the India state. “The youth of this state are our biggest assets and their services during the floods have been lauded across the world. Without any requests, they took it upon themselves to help each other with the rescue operations, to volunteer in relief camps as well as to form social media information groups,” the official told TNM.

The volunteers will not wear any uniform of insignia and much of what they do will – inevitably – go unreported and largely unnoticed by much of the world’s media. But make no mistake that the role they have and will play is vital. I touched upon the importance of volunteers in the aftermath of disasters in my earlier blog post, here.

The new volunteer army is open to anyone aged between 15 and 30. Initially, the registered volunteers will be divided into “six groups and each group will be given training in all the different areas in an academy in Munnar”. After the training, the volunteers will be divided into the five ‘armies’ based on skillset.

The volunteer army is being officially inaugurated by the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tomorrow (December 19) in Thiruvananthapuram. I’ve no doubt that I speak for every reader in wishing the initiative and those brave volunteers within it every possible good luck.