Children and the tsunami, Engaging with children in disaster response, recovery and risk reduction: Learning from children’s participation in the tsunami response

This paper makes a plea to all of us who go into disaster situations with the best of intentions – listen to the survivors, especially the children. It is their right to participate in decisions that affect them. They have valuable things to say about their situations if we are willing to take a moment to ask questions, listen to their responses and be prepared to act on the basis of what we hear. Plan has seen the concrete results of such listening in a school in Aceh designed to take into account the special needs and concerns of the children who will go to that school. Children’s inputs into the design of a village in Sri Lanka have also borne fruit. The list of examples goes on and on ... and is only limited in instances where we do not take the time or effort to ask questions and listen to what children have to say.
This publication makes it clear that if we just address immediate physical needs and neglect other rights of children such as the right to participation, development and protection, we run the risk of seeking short-term fixes at the expense of doing longer-term permanent damage. It concludes by asking us all to think through the consequences of our efforts in disaster situations and not ignore the voices of those we are trying to help.

Published 2011-05-25

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