If you don’t already know, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is about what we can all do to reduce the risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornados. With the recent impacts of climate change, many countries are being affected by these disasters and it’s our responsibility not only to help those countries, but also to do whatever we can to prevent the disasters from happening in the first place.
International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) aims to raise awareness of what we as individuals can do to help. This year’s theme is children and young people - how we can help reduce the risk of disasters in our homes, schools and local areas. As part of the theme, four major children’s organisations have launched the Children’s Charter, a five-point checklist developed by young people that highlights their priorities for disaster risk reduction. It has already been signed up to by many governments and other important figures; this shows that we as young people are one step closer to getting our views acknowledged.(To see the Charter and for more information, go to the link above).
On the 13th of October this year young people in over 45 countries took part in International Day for Disaster Reduction, all of them coming up with fun, inventive activities to encourage the members of their communities to get involved in the campaign.
Many countries held meetings between young people, members of the public and local government officials to discuss the issues. Others had festivals and games, such as the DRR public awareness festival in Japan or the rally in the Solomon Islands where they had performances of local pop music to celebrate the day. The creative sides of young people were brought out with drawing, painting and poster-making competitions in Thailand and other places, and in countries such as India and Greece there were even training courses and awareness programmes with hands-on activities for children.
Events that caught my eye were the ‘adopt a tree for DRR day’ initiative in Kenya, and the event in Rwanda where members of the public took part in community work that contributed to DRR such as growing windbreakers and soil levelling. A live video conference between three primary schools in disaster affected areas in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, where the children discussed ideas for a greener planet, demonstrated the need for collaboration between countries.
Other countries involved were Italy, the Philippines, Switzerland, the USA, Egypt, Pakistan, Argentina, Haiti, Sri Lanka, South Africa and many, many more. But if you did not take part and would like to, it is definitely not too late as the theme will be running for the whole year and contributions are still very welcome.
Why not get involved in a campaign of your own? Take inspiration from other countries, or come up with a brand new idea – all you need to do is get people from your school and local community interested.
For more information on the events of IDDR and to find out ideas on what you can do, visit www.unisdr.org/2011/iddr/ and do your bit for Disaster Risk Reduction. Remember: disasters don’t have to ruin people’s lives!
By Ruby, 14, UK
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