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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Helping to keep children safe in rural Laos

As a child-centred organisation, ChildFund Laos works especially with children and focuses on the issue of child protection in our work.

While we cannot stop disasters and other risks to children, we can reduce their impact by working in partnership with children and their families in Nonghet, Laos.

ChildFund uses a tool called the Participatory Capacity and Vulnerability Analysis method that enables communities to express their perceptions and understanding of hazards affecting them. This in turn informs our development work.

In Nonghet in northern Laos, two of the main risks that children identify in their lives are road safety and dog bites.

With much of the land still littered with unexploded bombs leftover from the Vietnam War, children are often forced to play near the main road, which is the route used by large trucks and buses moving between Laos and Vietnam.

As there are no footpaths, children are also forced to walk on the road to get to school. Mostly by themselves while their parents are busy working in the fields to support their families. The road is narrow and windy, leaving drivers with poor visibility. This combined with excessive speed causes many accidents.

To help reduce this hazard ChildFund working with the local community to devise solutions and is providing children in Nonghet with road safety training.

We believe that children have the right to participate in decisions that affect them so it is vital we always include input from them when designing development programs, but having children sit together to gather information about the risks that they face also has several other benefits.

We find children often have different perceptions of hazards compared to adults, so it is essential that young people are given the opportunity to be actively involved in the creation of their own community disaster risk plans.

Involving children in developing these plans also ensures young people have a greater retention of the knowledge they need to protect themselves against risks and are able to take action in the face of danger.

Using a participatory method also helps to empower young people and build their confidence by teaching them to think critically and actively about their surroundings.

ChildFund Laos believes the right tools are invaluable for helping kids to take steps to reduce the risks they face in their communities every day.

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