Immediately after any disaster, volunteers - often the members of the local communities - play a crucial role in rescuing the survivors and bringing emergency relief and medical aid to them. As relief and aid arrive from other places, volunteers' responsibilities extend to post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation activities.
In regions affected by disasters, volunteers help to coordinate relief efforts, share information between governments and relief agencies, mobilize resources and rehabilitate devastated communities. Their rapid deployment, their skills and prior experience in disaster response deliver immediate assistance to communities overwhelmed by the destruction at hand, bringing hope to many thousands of people. Often their presence also serves as a communication channel from the grassroots to national governments, donors, international aid organizations and UN agencies – a crucial exchange to tailor assistance to local needs and conditions.
Based in disaster prone regions, UN Volunteers, often serving in their own communities, work with residents, local and regional officials and representatives from NGOs to empower the population to be better equipped to respond in the wake of disaster. They help develop community-based disaster mitigation programmes – such as emergency action plans – that reflect the local environment. Thousands of villages across several countries are now ready to face and survive disasters.
In this slideshow, we bring you a snapshot of various roles volunteers play in response to disasters.
Read our collection of stories and resources that shows volunteerism to be a key element in providing emergency relief to disaster survivors and in post-disaster reconstruction.