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Children Must Have a Say in Disaster Risk Reduction Plans

Plan wants children to have a greater say in helping to reduce disaster risk – and is bringing their voices to international policy makers.

During disasters, children often face injury, illness, separation from their families, interruption to their education and an increase in child labor and trafficking, giving them a unique insight into how to avoid these risks.

Plan’s Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) team will advocate that DRR work must listen to children and prioritize the specific risks posed to them during a global debate on disaster risk reduction at a major UN event later this month.

From May 19th-23rd, International delegates from the organization’s Disaster Risk Reduction team will participate at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction event in Geneva, Switzerland.

Based on its research asking children to suggest ideas for preventing disaster impact, Plan will recommend that child-centered resilience building should be a fundamental part of disaster reduction.

Jacobo Ocharan, Head of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Plan International, explained: “DRR means supporting communities and individuals to have the capacity to deal with disasters – to predict, prepare and respond. This is what it means to be resilient. Building capacity for and from children means listening to children, letting them participate in resilience planning and helping them be the agents of their own resilience.”

The Global Platform is organized by UNISDR, the UN's office for disaster risk reduction and secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

The event brings together governments, non-governmental organizations and civil society, academic and technical institutions and the private sector.

The goal is to improve implementation of disaster risk reduction through better communication and coordination amongst stakeholders.

A key focus will be the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards, and the new plan, the HFA2, which aims to advocate that disaster resilience, must be included in mainstream government policies and in the next batch of Millennium Development Goals.

The HFA’s goal is to substantially reduce disaster losses by 2015 by building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters.

This means reducing loss of lives and social, economic, and environmental assets when hazards strike.

The HFA was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2005 World Disaster Reduction Conference. It is the first plan to explain and detail the work required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses.

Plan has contributed to reviewing progress on the HFA through the Children’s Views from the Frontline report and the Children’s Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Via the Children’s Charter, the charity and other non-governmental organizational partners asked over 600 children in 21 high-risk countries to contribute ideas for addressing disasters.

Ocharan added: “We asked children to name their disaster priorities – such as schools and helping the most vulnerable – and from that we created five priority areas, including safe schools and child protection.”

Plan is a member of the Children in a Changing Climate collation, which has successfully advocated for child-centered DRR approaches at previous Global Platform meetings.

Plan believes that children’s views should be firmly integrated into DRR and climate change adaptation programs.

Ocharan concluded: “Our message is to please listen to children and their needs for DRR, and include their needs in the next HFA2. This is absolutely doable – and we have found that children often come up with the best and most efficient solutions.”


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