Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Children and adolescents participate in disaster prevention and response activities
In current disaster situations, risk and vulnerability levels of children and adolescents are increasingly high. They not only must face the loss of their homes and other precious assets but also cope with fear, pain and the consequences of other situations that affect, on a daily basis, the observance of their rights. These consequences can include such things as poverty, child labor, sexual abuse, mistreatment and lack of opportunities.
To prevent disasters and those aforementioned risks to children, the Disaster Preparedness of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (DIPECHO), the National Risk Prevention and Emergency Response Commission of Costa Rica (CNE), Radio Nederland and UNICEF joint efforts to implement the project entitled “Early Warning Community Networks for Risk Reduction in Costa Rica” which promotes participation of both children and adults in disaster prevention and response, particularly in the basins of the Reventazón, Parrita and Cañas Rivers, which are high-risk areas.
This project started in September 2003 and includes a number of actions for community organization, training of leaders, teachers, children and adolescents. This project also consists of production of print educational material and audiovisuals and the placing of radios and other communication equipment in high-risk zones to continuously measure and monitor water levels in these rivers.
Recently, Jocelyn Lance, head of DIPECHO for Latin America, visited Costa Rica to meet with representatives of the National Emergency Commission, Radio Nederland, UNICEF and members of the 26 communities in which the project is being developed, to identify its achievements and limitations to date.
In a short amount of time, this initiative have made progress and valuable contributions in the field of emergency prevention and response. To date, risk areas have been identified in each river basin; 26 emergency community committees have been operating; 75 teachers have been trained and the installation of radio and monitoring equipment has begun. In addition, educational games and other related material for both children and adults have been printed, and radio programs have been produced. The project already has a website, (www.rntc-la.org/prevencion o www. prevenirya.com) and a virtual course on risk management and emergency prevention was designed.
This project has helped in strengthening, advancing and stimulating development initiatives that arise from communities themselves. Along these lines, it has strengthened the work done by development associations. Most importantly, it has provided children and adolescents with the opportunity to exercise their right to information and participation in emergency prevention and response. To this end, UNICEF and all participating organizations are promoting the project entitled “Return of Happiness”, in which groups of adolescents from the Red Cross and World Vision are trained by psychology professionals on psycho-affective recovery processes intended for children affected by emergencies.
Steps are being taken so that this project continues for one additional year, focusing on participation of children and adolescents in community organization.
Xinia Miranda Cascante