Leadership in Emergencies and Natural Disasters

Discuss with the Scout Master your knowledge and understanding about how leadership should be given when an accident or a natural disaster occurs (Including the rendering of First Aid).

Scouts are Prepared for Natural Disasters

Scouts’ timely response during emergencies is a call of service, as they are known to help during unfortunate events especially when disaster strikes. Scouts engage in activities like including removing rubbles, cleaning up mud in houses, schools and roadside ditches filled with muddy sludge. Others involve in fundraising, installing shower booths and boilers at the evacuation centres, organising Scout games for children and Nature and Smile camps, organising tours to the sweets and snacks factory.

When a humanitarian crisis occurs, such as a natural disaster or armed conflict, we can count on Scouts to help respond with acts of service, donations, compassion and solidarity.

As Scouts, we often want to make ourselves useful and help others, while staying safe and caring for our well-being. Humanitarian crises can be distressing for young people who hear about, witness or experience them, so let’s learn together how we can safely help during a humanitarian crisis, whether it’s happening near or far.

How to help if the humanitarian crisis is near you:

If the event happens near you, it's likely that your passion for helping others will make you want to act quickly. Before you start, here are a couple of things to consider:

  • Is it safe to intervene? The health and safety of Scouts must always be a priority. Never go to a conflict or disaster area on your own. Always coordinate with local authorities and assess the risks first.

  • Have you asked what is needed? Check to see what your National Scout Organization (NSO) is doing. Even the most well-intended help can cause or aggravate stressful situations in a crisis, if not well coordinated. Your NSO will know what you can do to support, what supplies are needed, what they can store and distribute, and what is culturally appropriate.

If it's safe and you've identified the needs you can help with, then it's time to make a plan for how to get involved with your Scouts, such as running a fundraiser or providing requested aid (ex. clean-up after a hurricane, collecting warm clothes for refugees, translating resources, sorting and packing supplies for a partner organisation, etc.).

How to help during a humanitarian crisis, from anywhere:

  1. Learn the Basics: Understanding basic standards for humanitarian action and how they align with Scouting’s values will help you ensure your contributions are ethical, fair, and helpful. Get started by taking a look at this simple infographic.

  2. Be Prepared: It’s our motto for good reason! Be prepared to respond and help if a disaster occurs near you. This quick reference guide provides some tips on what you can do as an individual, Scout Unit and NSO to be prepared for a crisis. Preparedness at all levels helps save lives, minimise damage and enhance disaster response operations.

  3. Continue your Scouting activities: If it’s safe to do so, keep having meetings in-person or online. Scouting provides a safe space for young people to build friendships, learn skills and work together to create a better world.

  4. Continue Skill-building: Outdoor skills learned in Scouting, like making shelters, cooking outdoors, and setting up amateur radio stations, paired with soft skills like teamwork and leadership, are very practical for helping in emergency situations, such as a natural disaster.

  5. Practice Peace-building: If you want to help Scouts practice peace-building, check out these 10 peace education activity ideas we put together.

  6. Provide Emotional Support: Scouts may need someone to talk to if they are feeling stressed about events they experience or hear about. Watch the Emotional Support of Youth webinar, led by mental health experts, for insight and practical tips to help you support others in overcoming emotional challenges.

  7. Talk to Children: If the crisis is due to an armed conflict, adults can find tips in the guide “Howto talk with children about war” in multiple languages and/or consult these tips from UNICEF.

  8. Become a Dialogue for Peace Facilitator: Dialogue is a tool that can help us create safe spaces, develop active listening, have difficult conversations productively, and promote more peace and understanding in all areas of life. Download the Dialogue for Peace facilitator’s toolkit to learn how you can facilitate dialogue.

  9. Raise or Donate Money: In most cases, the best way to help with emergency humanitarian relief is through financial contributions to support organizations, like Scouts, who are directly providing aid on the ground. This allows them to purchase the most needed supplies in a way they can best manage, store and distribute.

  10. The Scout Donation Platform is a fee-free crowdfunding platform for Scouts’ community service projects. It gives Scouts an opportunity to transform their ideas into reality, funding their projects and helping further Scouting's vision of creating a better world for everyone. Scouts can submit a project for consideration on the platform at any time, and anyone can make a donation of any amount.

  11. Introduce Scouting: If you’re in a humanitarian setting where there is no active Scout Group, consider introducing Scouting to help young people cope, have fun and build skills for life. Reach out to your NSO for support and check out our simple Action Kit to get started, and the Humanitarian Action Manual to support you in adapting your Youth Programme for a humanitarian setting.

  12. Practice Self-Care: Take breaks and seek support when you need it. We love the enthusiasm of Scouts of all ages to volunteer when they identify a need. Helping others should feel good and not come at the expense of your own health, safety, or well-being. Speak with a Scout Leader, friend, or qualified professional if you need extra support.

One way you can help build greater resilience right now is to share this article with a Scout Leader or educator! The more we know before and during a humanitarian crisis, the more empowered we are to help. Stay safe and be prepared.


Scouts Emergency Response in Ukraine

Ukrainians are receiving in an influx of solidarity and support from Scouts around the world and in neighbouring countries as the ongoing humanitarian crisis unfolds in the country. Through acts of kindness and generous donations of all sizes to the ongoing funding appeal, the Scout Movement has united in a show of strength and compassion for those being impacted by the conflict in Ukraine.

Already more than $100,000 in funding has been generously donated by local Scout groups, individual supporters, and National Scout Organizations (NSOs) to support emergency response and relief efforts of those in need. These funds will be directed to the National Organization of the Scouts of Ukraine to provide food, medicine, sleeping equipment, and other necessary supplies, along with the coordination of psychological support to young people and communities impacted by the conflict.

Scouts and NSOs in neighbouring countries are also now coordinating across borders and with partners to understand the needs in Ukraine and the region, as well as to offer necessary supplies and volunteers where they are needed most.

More than half a million refugees - mostly women and children - have fled Ukraine since last week, and the United Nations says “it is preparing for up to four million refugees from Ukraine in the coming days and weeks” (source). Refugees are already arriving in Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia and this sudden influx of displaced persons requires a great deal of emergency logistical support, including the coordination of volunteers and supplies

These conditions have prompted a wave of resilience, compassion, and responsiveness from Scouts in the region, and offers for additional support by neighbouring NSOs. Here are just some of the inspiring stories and efforts we have seen from Scouts over the past week.

Lebanese Scouts provide urgent disaster relief services following Beirut explosion

The devastating explosion that took place at the Beirut port in August 2020 caused considerable damage to the capital city, sending an earthquake wave across the country. The sudden event prompted the Lebanese Scouting Federation to acknowledge that Lebanese Scouts must be equipped to organise an efficient disaster relief response in order to address the consequences of this explosion and offer support to the thousands of affected individuals and families.

As a result, with the support of a WOSM Services Consultant, the federation developed a humanitarian aid vision and a plan to form an Emergency Response Team who would be trained to intervene and support future disaster relief efforts in the country.

The Emergency Response Team (ERT) included Scout Leaders, volunteers and members who have specific qualifications and are willing to serve the community. This group formed several departments, depending on their skill set and expertise, ranging from statistical and medical teams to psychological support, relief and restoration. The ERT’s key areas of focus were on distributing in-kind and logistical support to the affected populations, helping with clean-up actions, developing a database of damaged homes to provide assistance and of injured people in need of medical help, as well as providing psychological support for victims.

“The big bet was on the speed of response in various aspects of relief, psychological support, in-kind assistance, restoration work and others, as we were in a race against time and in front of a great challenge. I am glad that we were able to mobilize our Scouts and contribute to the relief efforts by employing good management, organization skills and discipline,” shared Saiid Maaliki, the Secretary General, and Faiza Kanbar, the General Commissioner of the Lebanese Scout Association.

This plan also included the development of a communications strategy to approach partners and donors to support the humanitarian response efforts. It provided a space to conduct training sessions for National Scout Associations to strengthen emergency response skills, draft efficient emergency plans, identify important stakeholders for potential partnerships, distribute tasks among teams and to make the best use of the available resources.

As an outcome, the service mobilised 5000 Scouts organised in groups of 50 people, who were allocated to the above-mentioned teams and activities. The Lebanese Scouting Federation has positively evaluated the support received through the WOSM Services, stressing the importance of correct resource management.

The WOSM Services is a platform that offers support to all 172 National Scout Organizations to strengthen their ability to deliver better Scouting activities and programmes to more young people worldwide. Through e-learnings, helpful resources, toolkits and in-person consultants, National Scout Organizations can access the platform at anytime and find the support they need in any area including Safe from Harm, Youth Programme, Communications, Humanitarian Action and more.

Where to find more information?

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