MANILA - Around 50 children from all over the country recently joined the National Consultation with Children and Youth on Disaster Risk Reduction to come up with a statement on how children and youth can be protected in cases of disaster.
The children asked key government agencies, including the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, Office of Civil Defense, and the National Youth Commission to include the welfare of children and the youth in their campaigns and policies.
"It is undeniable that children are the most vulnerable during disasters and emergencies. If we don’t involve them to be resilient and more proactive, all our DRR [Disaster Risk Reduction] initiatives could only go so far. Youth participation is pivotal in ensuring our efforts are adaptive to their context and capacity to mitigate disaster risks," World Vision’s National Director Rommel Fuerte said.
During the workshop, the young participants learned about the Sendai Framework of Action, a global agreement comprised of 7 targets which aim to collectively track and reduce the loss of lives and increase national disaster resilience among participating countries, including the Philippines, by 2030.
"Children typically represent 50 to 60 percent of those affected by disasters, whether through loss of life or from diseases related to malnutrition and poor water and sanitation. Disasters also disrupt education and can cause psychological distress. Knowing how children are affected by disasters, and getting their ideas on how to prevent and mitigate the adverse impacts of these disasters is an important area of UNICEF’s work,” Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Philippines Representative, said.
"I feel like we are finally breaking the notion that children and youth are just children and youth. We are finally speaking our voices and we’re finally gaining more trust from the government. As children and youth, we are efficient and effective agents of change," said Angela Naco, 18, one of the youth participants.
The National Consultation with Children and Youth on Disaster Risk Reduction was organized by UNICEF and World Vision.