Towards a culture of preparation: Engaging with university students to promote uptake of Kaya courses to enhance Disaster Risk Reduction
Disasters and disaster risks have been on the rise in the last decade. Globally, the number of people affected has been increasing by an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 per decade since the early 1970s and is projected to continue to increase in many regions of the world due to the growing exposure from human activities and climate change. This projected increase in frequency and intensity of disasters is expected to be exacerbated by increased vulnerability due to poverty and increased population pressure in some risk-prone areas.
To combat disasters, higher learning institutions are gaining importance as they play a proactive role in disaster risk reduction. They have the capacity to educate, carry out research, and bring stakeholders together to share experiences. They can also increase the knowledge base, and facilitate improved decision-making for policy and practice. Universities are active players in curating and nurturing humanitarian volunteers and workers through the courses offered. They have an active role in enthusing talented young people about humanitarian work and helping them get involved in volunteer activities. It is therefore imperative to engage universities to strengthen their capacity to provide to their students the knowledge and skills to understand disaster risks, making them better enabled to take lead in reducing the risks and impacts of potential disasters for themselves and others in their institutions and community at large.
The East Africa Centre of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy is establishing strategic links with learning and knowledge sharing institutions and NGOs in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian sector. These collaborative efforts seek to promote access to humanitarian learning, skills, and innovations which can lead to increased resilience, response capacity, and ability to confront disasters in the region.
A number of universities were visited in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In Kenya, we engaged Maseno University, Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi, Kibabii University and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University. In Tanzania, discussions were held with Ardhi University, Nzumbe University and Tanzania Red Cross Society. In Uganda, we engaged with Bugema University, Uganda Martyrs University, Uganda Christian University, Makerere University and Exceed Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The students were oriented on the Kaya platform – how to sign up, how to download the offline player, how to navigate through the over 300 courses. This was received with a lot of excitement and over 500 students signed up on Kaya, so far 377 have successfully completed different courses on Kaya.
The East Africa Academy Centre also encouraged the universities to think about and come up with innovative projects and ideas. They were informed that the project which will be supported by the Academy Centre must verifiably demonstrate increased uptake of humanitarian learning, knowledge or innovations and must be in line with our strategic goals:
- Individuals and communities are better enabled to prepare for and respond to crises.
- More effective humanitarian action delivered by stronger organisations.
- Policy and practice in the humanitarian sector in East Africa are informed by improved access to knowledge on the critical issues and trends it faces.