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Humanitarian Aid Work & Development Programs

Made up of almost 1200 small islands spread across 900 km in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is threatened by rises in the sea level and storm surges. Development relies heavily on two industries -tourism and fisheries. Both are fragile and vulnerable to external factors as well as natural disasters. Increased congestion and a high unemployment rate, particularly among young people, has led to drug related health concerns and social problems.

Australian Red Cross has previously worked closely with the Maldivian authorities, particularly in response to the devastating Asia quake and tsunami in 2004, and now we have an opportunity to build and support Maldivian Red Crescent, the newest National Society, and their humanitarian and development programs.

Sharing skills

Australian Red Cross is helping to build the capacity of Maldivian Red Crescent. With the support of Canadian Red Cross, this involves a review of the organisation and then the development of a humanitarian program plan, including disaster management approaches. We are also continuing to work with tsunami-affected populations within this island nation, addressing wider social vulnerabilities and supporting organisational capacity building initiatives.

Focus on young people and health

Together with Maldivian Red Crescent, we are working on a pilot program to address youth substance abuse in the Maldives. Drug use in the Maldives is alarmingly high despite the Maldivian Government's efforts to reduce demand. Associated with this, the rates of mental health issues amongst young people are also significant.

Reinforcing this, the strategic plan of Maldivian Red Crescent draws attention to the significant need for health and social care initiatives, particularly substance abuse focused programs. It also emphasises youth leadership and empowerment.

The program will provide education, training, first aid services and health promotion initiatives related to drug use and mental health. It will seek to build the skills and knowledge of young people to look after themselves and provide support to their peers

This program will be based on successful Australian Red Cross youth programs, Save-A-Mate (SAM) and Talk Out Loud (TOL), delivered in a culturally appropriate program for young people living in the Maldives.