YOUTH ON THE FRONTLINE AGAINST COVID-19. Activities of the Caribbean Youth Network on Climate Change (CYNCC) in Cuba

Members of the Network, representing youth institutions and organizations of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), the Youth Technical Brigades (BTJ), the Environment Agency (AMA), the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO-Cuba), the Institute of Meteorology (INSMET), are linked, from social isolation, to conduct research and social awareness as part of the national programmes for the sanitary emergency of COVID-19. This responds to a call from the government to contain and mitigate the spread of the disease. Since the declaration of the pandemic in the national territory, training and awareness-raising actions have been carried out in the communities.

Social studies have been carried out in the affected territories and in the most vulnerable sectors of the population for care and treatment. A sociodemographic observatory has been established to monitor effects of COVID-19, with the aim of reducing vulnerabilities.

The participation of young researchers in Temporary Working Groups for the fight against  the pandemic, has allowed them to assume key responsibilities in the processing and analysis of different indicators that are necessary for the study the of the virus and its impacts in the population of the country.

The collaboration between the Institute of Meteorology and the Ministry of Public Health includes analyses on the influence of climate conditions on the behavior of the pathogen and on the human organism. This work has yielded evidence on the circulation of the virus, and its specific impact on tropical weather conditions. In addition, young members of the network are actively working on the preparation of  a weather information service requested by the Ministry of Health (MINSAP), as well as on the critical review and analysis of scientific articles that link weather variables with the virus.

Other youth actions include support to epidemiological inquiries in communities, social assistance to vulnerable population groups, and tasks related to patient care in isolation centres established by the Ministry of Health.  

The scientific output of other young members of the Network is expressed in articles, in studies linked to perceptions of climate change and ecosystem-based adaptation measures, all of which are contributing to the national country reports to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change.

The Youth Technical Brigades, under the leadership of a member of the Network, supports productive work in key sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, to meet crucial local demands of food in times of pandemic and social isolation.

A PERSONAL STORY

Jessica Pedraza Azúa , specialist at the Ministry of Technology, Science and the Environment (CITMA) and member of the Network, comments on her experiences in Covid-19 times:

In my case, as a young specialist in information and communications technologies applied to sciences and environmental activities, I have supported through social networks the dissemination of messages that promote social distancing, the perception of risks related to the virus, the rational use of water at a time when the country faces a serious drought, and in relation to electricity saving measures that are positive for the environment and the economy”.

I have developed measures to ensure the vitality of the computer networks of all entities of the CITMA), taking into account that a high percentage of the staff is working from home as part of the measures adopted by the Cuban Government. I also work on improving connectivity in high-impact entities for science and the environment, which contribute to the information needed by of our researchers.

Ensuring and promoting timely and accurate information on COVID-19, climate change, the environment and science, are, from isolation, my greatest contribution nowadays.”

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