Editorial: "Save the Children’s “See me, ask me, hear me”

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

IN THE ongoing recovery efforts in Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)-shattered areas in Eastern Mindanao, the international group Save the Children conducted a consultation with 174 children to seek out their views on how best to address their concerns.

The report produced after the consultations entitled, “See me, ask me, hear me: children’s recommendations for recovery three months after Typhoon Haiyan,” urges all levels of government, aid agencies and local communities to include detailed recommendations it has canvassed from Filipino children in future disaster planning.

Top on the list of the observations of the children: They did not imagine what was coming and that children want to be better prepared and informed about what is going to hit them.


“Older children told us that they want to take classes that teach life skills like how to build shelters, the science of the environment and fishing. They want more friendly spaces for children to share feelings and put their minds at ease. They want adults and the authorities to talk to them about exactly what is going on when a disaster strikes,” said Paul Ronalds, Save the Children CEO in Tacloban City, Philippines, in the article about the report.

But more than that, the children want help in order to stand on their own feet again and not just gifts and relief goods.

Ronalds said that listening to the children on how government sand communities should respond to disasters is necessary as all these decision will affect the children.

“The recovery process is not just about providing vital aid to affected communities, but ensuring that we build back better, and the input of children is critical to this,” he said.

Among the report’s recommendations are:
Develop child-friendly early warning language that describes ‘surge’, ‘gusts’ and ‘magnitude’ as well as other meteorological terminology in a way that children can understand, envisage and respond to.

Address child-friendly design of evacuation centers, and ensure that all children but especially girls’ right to privacy is upheld.

Implement strategies to ensure that 100 percent of school-aged children in affected areas are able to get back to learning as soon as possible.

Ensure greater investment in social services, not just infrastructure in the recovery phase following Typhoon Haiyan.

Truly, reducing disaster risks and preparing for these entail not just the thoughts of adults, but also the concerns of the children who are most vulnerable and suffer the most in the aftermath. They should always be among those properly informed. Disasters are not just the concern of adults, valuable inputs from young minds who see the world in another light are just as valuable. This is not just about Yolanda and Eastern Visayas.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 27, 2014.


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