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Children participate in disaster preparedness in China and Philippines

Source(s):  Save the Children International (SCI)

Save the Children is working to ensure that children in crisis situations, including disasters, are not deprived of their right to education. We prioritise children’s participation in learning, believing that through their active contributions, children gain a greater understanding of disaster preparedness. They can be effective communicators of risk, act as agents of change, and actively participate in decision-making processes that will ultimately affect them. Save the Children in China and the Philippines have been using play-based methods to engage children, providing interactive ways for children to be at the centre of their own learning.

In China, International Day for Disaster Reduction is commemorated every year on 12 May, on the anniversary of the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake. This year, Save the Children partnered with provincial governments to host a learning day in three schools. Zhong Ling, Disaster Risk Reduction and Humanitarian Project Manager, describes the programme:

“A sports day was organised to teach children about safety skills and the importance of preparing for disasters. Children participated in earthquake simulations and fire evacuations, learning to pack a first aid kit and taking quizzes on the topic of safety.

“The children loved it. They felt that the games and teamwork were very fun, and they learned the proper procedures to evacuate from a fire. Child participation is important and should always be considered in our projects.”

In the Philippines, Save the Children co-hosted a three-day camp for children to learn about disaster preparedness. Children sang songs, played team-building games, and completed recreational exercises that taught life-saving skills. They learnt about earthquake and fire safety procedures, while others taught basic first aid techniques. When asked about their experience, children commented, “Learning by doing is much better than learning by listening. If we can understand, then it is easier to remember.”

Wayne Ulrich, Senior Adviser for Disaster Risk Reduction, Resilience, and Climate Change Adaptation, said, “A programme like this is a good way to nurture development, promote leadership, strengthen advocacy skills, empower youth, build confidence, and apply a child-centred risk reduction approach that helps children to build resilience and reduce their risks.”

Ling affirms, “This not only ensures children’s right to participation, but provides opportunities for adults to understand children’s specific vulnerabilities, needs, and rights that might be affected during a disaster.”

Wayne agrees that “it instils a sense of responsibility, leadership, and well-being in each child.” Children are the most effective and efficient way of achieving change. Across the Asia-Pacific, Education Safe from Disasters will continue to deliver programmes with child participation at the centre. We believe in the power of children’s voices to be strong ambassadors of disaster preparedness messages to their communities.

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  • Publication date 04 Aug 2016

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