Emergency Kit Workshop encourages innovation, inspires youth to creativity
Although the world did not end in 2012, dark times followed in the wake of natural and man-made disasters. Pain and destruction caused by the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 still linger today. Tyhoon Haiyan left more than 10 million people homeless; survivors fought and panicked over shortages in food, drinking water, and medicine. In the summer of this year, floods also swept the northeast of China, cutting through Sichuan province, Guangdong province, and Guangxi province. They flattened homes, bringing with them landslides and other secondary disasters.
Disasters do not only affect areas designated ‘vulnerable’ – vastly developed, urban areas are often just as hard hit. Thankfully, we are not entirely helpless in the face of disaster. By making preparations in advance, we can minimize loss.
The first step is to understand that there are numerous problems standing in the way of disaster preparedness and, more specifically, in the process of producing and using emergency kits. Public awareness of disaster prevention and risk reduction is still low. With the passing of perceived initial danger, people tend to forget about obtaining an effective emergency response kit. Most people in China are still not familiar with the notion of owning an emergency kit. The country’s emergency response sector is still quite new, with design of emergency kits usually outdated and ill-suited to the public’s needs. Moreover, kit implementation and management during emergency situations are complicated and comprehensive. From the manufacturing process to provision to application of the kits by groups and individuals, all factors to success are interconnected and dependent on one another. Presently, production and promotion of emergency kits do not work in tandem; there is a lack of relevant training and management, wherein manufacturers do not understand the needs of consumers. Likewise, after consumers obtain their kits, they still do not know how to use and maintain them.
The “Emergency Kit – Our Portable Noah’s Ark” workshop, supported by the HNA Group and jointly organised by the United Nations Development Programme, the 420 Social Response Seminar Series, and the Youthink Centre, was held on 16 December 2013 in Beijing. Nearly 100 participants from government, academia, non-governmental organizations, and civil society applied online and enrolled in the workshop.
The emergency kit workshop is the first in a series of projects prepared by UNDP China’s innovation initiatives. The workshop aims to help youth understand the significance of disaster prevention and risk reduction, as well as set up a communications platform for people from different industries and backgrounds to work and solve problems together. The event comprised three stages: “At First Sight – Thinking and Talking About Emergency Kits,” “DIY – Creating and Using Your Emergency Kit,” and “Management and Promotion of Emergency Kits.” Team-building exercises, brainstorming sessions, and a character analysis activity were included in the workshop, inspiring and encouraging the creativity of participants. The activities were designed to help participants promote, maintain, and customize their own emergency kits, which in a larger sense aim to raise people's awareness of crisis prevention.
Patrick Haverman, Deputy Country Director of UNDP China, also participated in the workshop and delivered a well-received speech. He thanked the participants and commented that although the people at the workshop were of diversified backgrounds, everyone had the same hopes of achieving a higher level of disaster preparedness, better-quality emergency response kits, and more innovation overall. He also encouraged new ideas and fresh ways of thinking for UNDP projects, highlighting innovation as the way to move forward in disaster management and all aspects of development.