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Children in a Changing Climate,IDS, International Development Studies
This research study focused on two communities in Indonesia examined the benefits and feasibility of child-centred Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and the potential impact of gender and religion. Children were found to face many cultural and institutional barriers to communicating disaster risk to their parents and the wider community. Parents often overlooked children’s knowledge and ability, considering them ‘too small’ and favouring more traditional communication from adults. They credited older children with a greater capacity for reducing risk and linked this to their greater knowledge base. At community level, government agencies still focused on adults, considering children as passive agents. However children were found to play important roles in the home upon which risk reduction activities could be built. Girls and women were considered less capable as risk reducers, although they were recognised as being as capable as boys in identifying, discussing and communicating risk. Barriers to women’s engagement include poor literacy levels and a lack of confidence in airing their views. In contrast the influence of religion on people’s attitude or conceptualisation of risk was minimal. An enabling environment for child participation in DRR/CCA (Climate Change Adaptation) means that committed agencies need to address not only the root causes of childhood vulnerability but also overturn long held cultural norms concerning gender and the social construction of children as powerless agents. This requires strong advocacy for the formal inclusion of children in DRR policy making.