Myanmar three months later:
Children still at high risk
Yangon, Myanmar, August 1, 2008
- Child labor, school dropouts, malnutrition, trafficking pose most serious threats to children according to Post-Nargis Joint Assessment Report
- World Vision’s Child-Friendly Spaces serving 10,000 children with psychosocial recovery, safe place to play
—Three months after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Delta and Yangon Division, World Vision has established its largest-ever number of children’s programs in a single country.
“But there is still much work to do if we are to adequately support the children of the delta,” said World Vision’s response manager, Judy Moore. “Children are among the most vulnerable after a disaster like Cyclone Nargis and require special attention to see them through the hard times that follow.”
The recently released Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA) identified ongoing threats to the wellbeing of children following May’s cyclone. Among the most significant threats highlighted were child labor, school dropouts, malnutrition and trafficking. Children are also “at greater risk of abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect,” according to the report.
In response to these threats, World Vision is currently running 84 Child-Friendly Spaces
, serving more than 10,000 children across Yangon and the delta. These centers for children provide psychosocial assistance to those affected. Stocked with toys, playing materials and equipment, the centers provide the young participants with a safe place to play and recover from the effects of Cyclone Nargis.
This intervention represents the largest number of Child-Friendly Spaces that World Vision has established in a single country following an emergency.
“Child-Friendly Spaces provide a safe space for children to play and learn and meet with peers,” said World Vision’s protection manager in Myanmar, Makiba Yamano. “We help them express their feelings and better cope with their unusual experiences.”
In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, many children were separated from their families. A vital role played by the Child-Friendly Spaces has been to identify particularly vulnerable children, especially those separated from their families or unaccompanied by an adult. World Vision has so far identified and registered 47 such children and closely monitors their living conditions and safety.
The Christian humanitarian agency is also concerned about the pressure on children as young as 11 to drop out of school and work.
“With the economic impact of Nargis hitting many families hard, children risk having to take up work and contribute to the family’s income, rather than remaining in the classroom to learn and grow,” said Yamano.
World Vision plans to construct 25 temporary schools in the delta and provide furniture, materials and back-to-school kits.
As a result of the destruction caused by Nargis, much farmland remains un-sown as the planting season comes to a close. Hundreds of thousands of residents of the delta are expected to face food insecurity for months or even years to come. Young children are especially vulnerable and at risk for malnutrition.
World Vision’s relief response is targeting some 338,000 people across the delta and affected regions of Yangon. In addition to child protection, priority areas include water, sanitation, hygiene and food security. As the response moves toward rehabilitation and recovery, livelihoods will be an additional focus of World Vision’s work.
:: More about World Vision relief efforts in Myanmar
World Vision staff are available for interviews. Please contact Rachel Wolff at 253.394.2214 or Rwolff@worldvision.org or Casey Calamusa at 206.310.5476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.