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Children take the lead in building community resilience to disasters

Source(s):  Thomson Reuters Foundation, (TRF)

GENEVA, 22 May 2013 – Children from Africa, Asia and Europe led an interactive session today on building community resilience to disasters at the 2013 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

In an effort to bring children’s voices to the forefront of the global discussion on disaster risk reduction, the panel’s children and young adults told leaders gathered in Geneva what needs to be done to keep children safe during disasters, while also discussing what can be done to make their communities more resilient to the effects of disasters.

Why now? Children make up more than half the population in countries predicted to be most affected by climate change and are facing increasing impacts from tumultuous events. It is estimated that as many as 175 million children a year will soon be affected by disasters.

Disasters are increasing in frequency. Climate change is making communities and families around the world more vulnerable to disasters, particularly women and children who are 14 times more likely to die in a disaster than men. The number of children affected by disasters in the 1990s was an estimated 66.5 million per year, but over the next decade that number is expected to climb to 175 million.

In an auditorium packed with government and community leaders from around the world, the panel’s young people seized the opportunity to put the interests of children at the forefront of global discussion on disaster risk reduction.

“Young people may be the most vulnerable but we are innovative and have a great capacity to deal with change, if equipped with adequate information and resources,” said Cressida Mawdesley-Thomas, 18-year-old youth campaigner and peer educator on climate change with UNICEF since 2009. “Children and young people must be empowered on an international, national and community level. It is only right that children and young people are recognised as key stakeholders within discussions on DRR."

This year’s featured event for children follows The Children’s Charter for DRR and the Children’s Roundtable at the 2011 Global Platform which highlighted what needs to be done to better reduce disaster risk for all, following children’s recommendations. Today’s session focused on how this can be achieved in practice, providing concrete examples of where this has been done successfully and including youth and children’s recommendations and priorities.

“Whenever a disaster strikes, children are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. Working alongside children to ensure their voices are heard and needs prioritized by governments and decision makers is critical to ensuring their protection before, during and after a disaster,” says Richard Rumsey, World Vision’s Director of Disaster Risk Reduction and Community Resilience.

“Children have the right to participate in issues which affect their lives. It is essential that policymakers and practitioners alike hear and understand the perspectives and ideas of children and are able to incorporate them into our risk reduction efforts. This is vital in order to effectively reduce the negative impacts of disaster events on children,” says Save the Children’s Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Change Adaptation Manager Nick Ireland.

The 2013 Global Platform presents an important moment for the creation of a post 2015 framework on disaster resilience, with governments meeting to discuss how to integrate DRR in the post-MDGs and the start of discussions on the successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action. It is vital that the views and needs of children in the context of disaster risk are integrated in this process.

Notes to editors:

About World Vision

World Vision is a global relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. For more information about World Vision and its work visit:


UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

About Plan

Founded over 75 years ago, Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world. We work in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. In 2012, Plan worked with 84 million children in 90,131 communities. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

At the Global Platform, UNICEF, World Vision, Save the Children and Plan International have launched a new research paper ‘Towards the Resilient Future We Want’ which looks at progress in involving and considering children in disaster risk reduction.

About Save the Children

Save the Children works in 120 countries. We save children’s lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfill their potential. We run world-class programmes to save children’s lives and challenge world leaders to keep to their promises to give children a brighter future. When disaster strikes our teams respond quickly and do whatever it takes to save children's lives. In 2012 we responded to emergencies in 39 different countries - delivering life-saving food, water, healthcare, protection and education to 4 million children and their family members.

For more information, please contact:

Caleb Starrenburg, World Vision Geneva, +41 79 930 81 38,
Christopher Tidey, UNICEF Geneva, + 41 79 204 2345

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  • Publication date 22 May 2013

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