Casey Calamusa, 206.310.5476
June 16, 2009—Millions of children threatened by major disasters are still being ignored, despite promises to address their needs, according to a new report released by Plan International and World Vision.
The report, 'Children on the Frontline', reveals that many commitments made by governments in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami via the Hyogo Framework (HFA) have not yet been met. It says that disaster risk reduction knowledge and awareness is a top priority for children and communities but finds they are not receiving the support they need to put them into action.
The survey of over 800 young people from 17 countries found that the overwhelming message is that they are dissatisfied with what is being done by governments to prevent or mitigate disaster risks.
Roger Yates, Humanitarian Director of Plan International says consultation needs to be improved: "Children are often viewed as victims in disaster situations but actually they can think more laterally and creatively than adults. They also have excellent communication networks and can be key to preventing and minimising the impact of disasters.
"Over 50% of the world's population are children and young people but unless we listen to them and actively involve them in protecting their homes and communities, then no significant change can be made.
"Climate change will seriously affect future generations more and more and their voice must be heard now. This report validates Plan's belief that children are essential to building the resilience of their communities and their input must not be ignored."
"Current trends in the prevalence and impact of disasters raise major concerns for the needs and rights of vulnerable children," says Richard Rumsey, World Vision's Director of Disaster Risk Reduction.
"Children's participation in community-led risk reduction activities is a critical component when it comes to the safety of future generations."
Research says children are usually better educated than their parents and are effective drivers of change. Plan and World Vision have found that schools are a great network to reach the largest number of households and marginalised groups with essential information.
One child who has found this is 16 year Rhee. He will be giving a first hand account of his experiences in the Philippines at a special event to launch the report being held at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.
Rhee learnt about disaster risk reduction in a project at his school and became concerned about the school's position in the path of a potential landslide. He led his fellow students and local community in a successful campaign to convince the government to have the school moved to a new location.
"It is our right to be safe." Rhee said. "It was a painful process but we have to do it."
Rhee's case is a great example of how active involvement in disaster risk reduction has positive, practical results. Children are more forward thinking than adults and often have bolder ideas, and see and do things that adults miss.
'Children on The Frontline' will be launched at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva on June 16th. The conference brings together heads of state, senior ministers, UN agencies, NGOs and scientific and technical experts. The event will focus on the links between climate change adaptation, poverty & disaster risk reduction.
The conference will look at the progress of the 10 year Hyogo Framework for Action which 168 governments signed up to in 2005 for building the resilience of communities and nations to disasters.
The report is part of an initiative at the Platform to highlight the perspectives of young people and the difference their input can make to research, policymaking and action on disaster risk reduction involving World Vision, Save the Children Alliance and UNICEF.
World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. We serve the world’s poor regardless of a person’s religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.