Shaaiga from Maldives shared with ExtremeLives how she followed her passion to football against all odds. Photo: UNDP Asia Pacific/ Ashwa Faheem

On 20 January 2022, UNDP and the European Union launched the 4th season of the much anticipated ExtremeLives video series. This season showcases stories of individuals from Maldives and Sri Lanka, who, against all odds, have transformed their lives to overcome some of the most pressing personal challenges in their communities. Issues of drug abuse, hate and inequalities are amongst the topics that are explored through first-person storytelling in local languages.

“Over the last few years, multiple shocks have shaken the world, making people more apprehensive about their future, their welfare, their values.” highlights the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka, Ambassador Denis Chaibi. “In this context, we are all at risk of losing our humanity and critical judgement. This is why the EU funded UNDP programme is showing how vulnerable people managed to get through difficult times. We hope that these lives will inspire many people who find a safe path through peaceful social inclusion.”

The videos are developed to invoke viewers’ empathy with the characters, inspire youth from South Asia to explore solutions to their own challenges, needs and aspirations to make positive changes in their lives and communities. To increase the resilience of its viewers, the videos subsequently offer digital resources, including tips on well-being and mental health and links to volunteering, interests and job opportunities.

“UNDP is proud of its partnership with the EU on the launch of another Season of Extremelives. Together we have designed and produced the new season of the ExtremeLives focusing on stories of people in Maldives and Sri Lanka using the people-centred approaches of behavioural science to address root causes of radicalization in South Asia,” said Robert Juhkam, Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka. “We hope that this series will serve as an inspiration for youth in Sri Lanka and become an important driver of positive changes in the communities across the region.”

This season has been designed and produced differently from other ExtremeLives videos. Through investment in behaviour analysis and measurement activities, UNDP aimed for the videos to target young people vulnerable to violent extremist narratives. Key messages on positive behaviours were promoted with the objective to encourage and contribute to the resilience of communities to violent extremism in South Asia. As part of its M&E strategy, UNDP has developed a survey adopting an innovative method of gamification. The format of the video game is interactive and engaging for the target audience, allowing UNDP to collect important behaviour insights from viewers in the region.

“In the past year, important steps have been taken by UNDP and the EU towards the integration of behavioural science in measuring the impact of P/CVE initiatives in Asia,” said Enrico Gaveglia, UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives. “ExtremeLives in its 4th edition extracts first-time insights from a deeper point of view that looks at behaviours and what shapes them to better inform preventive actions to mitigate the insurgence and spread of violent extremism in South Asia. Our partnership with the EU and Maldives national partners working in this space is a natural match as we look into leveraging knowledge and sharing of experiences in the joint fight against violent extremism”.

The ExtremeLives is a flagship initiative of the EU funded UNDP “Preventing Violent Extremism through Promoting Tolerance and Respect for Diversity” project in Asia. It offers positive alternative narratives and operates through empowering communities to address various forms of social, political and economic marginalization, which can create ground for radicalization and extremism. The ExtremeLives series first launched in 2018 and spans across 6 countries in Asia. --- 

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