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How I saved my school from a landslide

Rhee (left) speaks to government and intergovernmental and civil society delegations during the closing plenary of the 2009 Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction.
Rhee (left) speaks to government and intergovernmental and civil society delegations during the closing plenary of the 2009 Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction.

A 16–year-old schoolboy from the Philippines has told the audience at a major disaster conference in Geneva how he saved his school from a potentially deadly landslide.

His first hand account at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction was among a small number of statements made by children last week as part of an effort being made by Plan and other organizations to achieve formal recognition of children's concerns on a world-wide level.

Community campaign

Rhee’s story began when he learned about disaster risk reduction through a Plan project at his school and became concerned about the school’s position in the path of a potential landslide. He led his fellow students and local community in a successful campaign to convince the government to have the school moved to a new location.

Rhee’s speech during the final plenary of the Global Platform highlighted the importance of not only educating children about disaster risk reduction, but to also ensure that if they have concerns, that they are properly addressed.

Invest in us!

“We have convinced our community and our government that it is important to teach children, so children can be involved in preventing disasters. We learned our lessons and we acted on them," he said.

“Education is a good investment for preventing disasters," Rhee added. “We have the right to be safe. And you adults must do all you can to ensure we are safe from disasters.”

The Global Platform brought together heads of state, senior ministers, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and scientific and technical experts to focus on the links between climate change adaptation, poverty and disaster risk reduction.

Plan report launch

During the meeting Plan launched the new report "Children on the Frontline," which reveals that many commitments made by governments in the wake of the 2004 tsunami via the Hyogo Framework have not yet been met. The report also surveyed over 800 young people from 17 countries and found that they were deeply unsatisfied by what their governments were doing to prevent disaster risks.

Roger Yates, Humanitarian Director of Plan, called for the members of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) system to “actively facilitate dialogue with children,” and asked for a commitment from the ISDR Secretariat to take part in this process of education and exchange of ideas.

Download the report Children on the Frontline.

Visit the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction website.