UNICEF Philippines’ National Goodwill Ambassador Gary Valenciano visits UNICEF’s child centred Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programmes to learn about how children are involved in disaster risk management, as the devastation from the recent powerful Typhoon Koppu/Lando become clear.
Children have the right to be protected from the effects of disasters. The hazards that the Philippines face every year puts children’s survival, development and protection rights at risk. Every year, around 170,000 families are displaced as a result of emergencies. Disasters exacerbate poverty, preventing children from exercising their rights; and families and communities from realizing their development potential.
“While children are the most vulnerable to disasters, they are not passive victims. UNICEF believes that involving children in risk reduction will build their own and their community resilience against shocks and stresses,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander says.
During his visit to Barangay Dalnac, Paracale in Camarines Norte, Gary witnessed children’s active participation in disaster response, preparedness and mitigation actions. Children helped develop Participatory 3D Maps wherein the community, including children, made geographically accurate scale models of their villages that map out the risks, vulnerabilities and capacities of their communities. Gary also witnessed how DRR concepts are integrated in the school curriculum by sitting in a Grade 1 class. A first aid demonstration by children, and use of play activities as part of DRR learning were also participated in by Gary.
“It’s amazing to see how this community has tapped into the the power and potential of children for disaster preparedness and response. It’s so nice to see young people smile and demonstrate their skills with confidence, ready to face any emergency. During my visit here, I saw that it doesn’t take one organization or one person to address risks and build resilience, but it takes a whole community to act and come together to protect themselves and lessen the impacts of disasters,” Valenciano says.
In high-risk environments like the Philippines, UNICEF advocates for child-centred Disaster Risk Reduction. Child-centred DRR means looking at risk reduction plans and budgets with a child rights lens, and empowering children to become active participants in building the resilience of their communities.