Enabling child-centred agency in disaster risk reduction

Enabling child-centred agency in disaster risk reduction

Recognising the role and rights of children as citizens and agents of change

Child-centred approaches to disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) recognise the role and rights of children as citizens and agents of change. It is important to understand how children can be engaged in articulating their needs, identifying solutions and taking action to reduce disaster risk. This paper provides empirical data and builds on the globally available evidence base in order to move forward the debate on engaging children as active citizens in DRR. It draws on the national government context for DRR and child-centred policy alongside empirical studies of work led by Plan El Salvador, Plan Philippines and World Vision Philippines.

The research identifies the following issues for decentralisation in engaging children in DRR:

  • inclusive programmes that foster agency and trust at multiple scales
  • recognising and working with the particular cultural and social contexts of the child environment
  • political realisation of child rights and agency to create the policy and governance frameworks that create space for engagement
  • resources to support decentralised DRR policy and programming alongside training and capacity building for effective citizen/children engagement in planning and delivery.
The paper makes the following recommendations to create an enabling environment for child-centred DRR:
  • national DRR frameworks should include resource decentralised training and capacity building programmes across sectors to provide skills in risk assessment activities as well as DRR planning and programmes
  • the capacity of decentralised duty-bearers should be enhanced with specialist technical and scientific knowledge
  • individual community level champions should be identified by DRR officials to act as bridges between children and local government structures and if feasible, children’s groups should be integrated into existing institutions instead of developing them outside policy and practice spaces
  • the school curriculum should be enabled to serve as a central catalyst for DRR action at the community level
  • decentralised DRR training should be at the point closest to the community, bringing children and adults together in co-learning and knowledge sharing spaces
  • the entry point for child-centred DRR should relate to the priorities of the specific community and are likely to originate in 'alternative' policy arenas
  • children who are supported to become change agents should be made visible early in the process to build trust in their activities and shift perceptions to value children as active agents.
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