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ESTABLISHING DISASTER RESPONSE MECHANISMS

Many governments and international observers have noted the spontaneous outpouring of volunteer effort that greets disasters around the world, from the response to Hurricane Katrina in the United States (in which an estimated one million volunteers traveled to Gulf Coast in the two years after the hurricane to help rebuild)ix to the Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan (which provoked such an enormous volunteer response that “there were traffic jams for 1,000 kilometers, from Karachi to the northern areas, the whole length of Pakistan).x In an effort to manage and improve the efficiency of volunteerism in support of disaster response, countries have passed laws or policies that are intended to create permanent volunteer disaster response mechanisms. Indeed, the 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction specifically called on governments around the world to “promote community participation in disaster risk reduction through the adoption of specific policies… *and+ the strategic management of volunteer resources.”xi Pakistan’s National Volunteer Movement (NVM) is one such example; created by the Pakistani Ministry of State for Youth Affairs after the October 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the NVM is “dedicated to providing a platform for public contribution… that can be stimulated to act promptly and effectively in natural and man-made disasters.”xii

PROMOTING NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

Some governments turn to volunteerism law and policy to foster a sense of civic engagement and national citizenship. For example, the United Arab Emirates created Takatof, a volunteer program run by the government- affiliated Emirates Foundation, to connect young Emiratis to volunteerism opportunities, raise the profile of volunteerism in the UAE, and promote and foster a sense of citizenship and national solidarity. Because a primary goal is the promotion of a concept of national citizenship, Takatof tends to focus primarily on young Emirati citizens as both volunteers and beneficiaries of its programs. Similarly, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has since 2006 been developing policies to support a volunteer scheme known as the “ECOWAS Youth Ambassadors for Peace,” in which citizens in five post-conflict countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo) participate in volunteerism programs to promote national reconciliation and citizenship. Finally, the UN Volunteers / UN Development Program joint initiative “Regional Integration through Volunteer Exchanges for Reconciliation of South Eastern Europe” (RIVER SEE) is designed “to contribute to regional integration, social cohesion and poverty reduction in the Balkans through East-to-East volunteer exchanges, promotion of volunteerism and proactive citizenship, upgrading of the capacity of CSOs to deal with local development and governance processes, and establishment of regional cooperation in civil initiatives.xiii

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Many countries utilize volunteerism law and policy to help solve economic problems and promote economic development. These types of volunteer initiatives will likely proliferate in the wake of the current global economic crisis. For example, in February 2009 the United Kingdom announced that it would be directing more than £42 million toward CSOs meeting the needs of individuals harmed by the ongoing worldwide economic crisis in order to promote volunteerism among the unemployed. Among other components, this program will support the establishment of a volunteer brokerage that will create over 40,000 volunteer opportunities for unemployed persons to learn new skills while serving their communities.

Similarly, the United States passed legislation in April 2009 designed to utilize $201 million of economic stimulus funding to (1) triple the number of volunteers in a government-affiliated national-service program known as

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