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Children are strengthening their communities

In drought-prone parts of Papua New Guinea a group of youth volunteered to become climate change champions so they could teach their communities about drought-resistant farming. Each year during Disaster Preparedness Month students in Jamaica compete in a culinary competition exclusive using non-perishable foods. In the years before Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, children and youth from the Iloilo and Zamoanga provinces advocated for disaster reduction measures, which proved crucial during and after the storm.

Children and youth around the world are proving they can play a major role in reducing the risk of disasters and climate change. On October 13, International Day for Disaster Reduction, it is important to acknowledge their role and look for opportunities to increase their involvement.

The focus of this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction is the Sendai Framework’s goal of reducing the number of affected people by disasters by 2030.

Children not only comprise a large percentage of the people affected by disasters, they are also the most vulnerable when crisis strikes. This is especially true in situations where a crisis occurs over a significant proportion of a child’s formative years, which can negatively affect the crucial stages of their social, cognitive, emotional and physical development.

Crises can also leave children vulnerable to other risks, such as child exploitation and violence, recruitment into armed forces, long-term injuries or disabilities, as well as separation from parents or caregivers.

Children need to be involved in the solution if we want to reduce the number of people affected disasters. The good news: they want to help.

In 2016 ChildFund and other child-focused development agencies released a report called Putting Children at the Heart of the World Humanitarian Summit, which highlighted the views of more than 6,000 children who have experienced armed conflict, disasters, displacement and other emergencies.

A great number of children said they wanted to be involved in the preparation process and the rebuilding of their communities.

Given the achievements we have seen from children around the world, we need to listen to them.

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