Are Children the Future of Resilience?

Photo by Julian Harneis

Photo by Julian Harneis

Which members of the community should be targeted for resilience and disaster reduction training? Children and youth, according to the director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Speaking at WCDRR in Sendai, Japan, UNICEF director general Anthony Lake explained that since the end of the 1990’s, climate change-related disasters have affected about 60 million children – a number is expected to rise to 200 million in the coming decades, putting even more children at risk.

He pointed to areas of success in utilizing children in training efforts, including:

  • Evacuation drills, teacher training, and emergency packs in Sendai following the 2011 earthquake
  • Community-based healthcare training in Niger, which has saved 60,000 children since 2009, and
  • Early warning systems and cyclone-resistant classrooms in Madagascar, ensuring that no child died in a disaster-related incident there since 2006.

“Engaging young people in a systematic way is not a seasonal exercise; half of the world population is under 25 years of age,” Lake said in his call to boost youth involvement in resilience training.

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