Children Widely Ignored in Philippines Recovery
Children must be central to recovery plans after the devastating Philippines storm, a new report finds.
Nearly six million children have been caught up in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan—accounting for 41 percent of those affected.
Yet, the study conducted by leading children’s charities including Plan International revealed no systematic effort to canvass or have their views heard.
Risks that girls and boys face include death, injury, illness, separation from families, disruption to education, child labor, and trafficking.
“It’s vital that the needs of children and what they want to happen next are included to make sure that the right kind of aid reaches the right people,” said Dr. Unni Krishnan, the Emergency Response Manager for Plan in the Philippines.
“It is also important that the role of children in building resilience in disasters is recognized,” he added.
Interviews with children that were conducted after the typhoon had passed show their priorities to include rebuilding homes, returning to school, and restoring electricity.
The report also reveals that children played a crucial role in the evacuation and preparedness that has saved thousands of lives before the storm.
Many of those interviewed are afraid of future storms, but are keen to learn more about how they can prepare for future disasters.
Despite living through traumatic events, children are taking new roles and responsibilities in the rebuilding of their communities. However, they will need psychosocial support to help them recover, the authors of the report conclude.
Recommendations include more consultation with children and the availability of better disaster preparedness information.
“Children and young people will be deeply affected by what they have lived through and the impact of a major disaster can affect the future of a generation,” said Dr. Krishnan.
“We must ensure that they are involved so communities can build back stronger and build back better.”
The research was carried out with children between the ages of 8 and 17 across affected areas of the Philippines by Save the Children, Plan, UNICEF, and World Vision.
Plan International and UNICEF carried out a similar assessment with children after the 2010 Haiti earthquake—the findings of which were eventually incorporated into the country’s national recovery plans.