UNICEF launches kit to help young children caught in emergencies
GENEVA, 15 July 2009 - A new kit to help meet the developmental needs of young children affected by emergencies was launched in Geneva today by UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman.
“The Early Childhood Development Kit is a tool for young children displaced or affected by war and natural disasters,” said Veneman at today’s official launch in Geneva. “It is the first of its kind within the humanitarian community.”
Early childhood is the most critical period for brain development, making young children vulnerable to the stresses of war and natural disaster such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.
The need for a special emergency kit containing materials to help young children regain a sense of normalcy was identified by UNICEF staff and partners responding to emergencies.
The kit is a box containing 37 different items, for use by approximately 50 children up to six years of age. Costing US$230, it makes possible a range of activities that encourage development and social interaction and promote playing, drawing, story telling and numeracy.
The materials - dominos, colouring pencils, construction blocks, hand puppets, puzzle blocks, memory games give children a sense of property, something which they own.
Before being launched, the kit was tested in seven countries - Chad, Liberia, Congo Brazzaville, Jamaica, Guyana, Maldives and Iraq.
UNICEF’s role in emergencies is to protect children and women, ensure the application of international standards covering their rights and provide them with assistance. Over the past 3 years, UNICEF has responded to 829 emergencies. An estimated 175 million children are affected by disasters every year.
The ECD kit complements UNICEF’s School-in-a-Box and Recreation kit. Developed jointly by UNICEF and UNESCO in 1994, the School-in-a-Box kit has become part of the UNICEF standard response in emergencies, used in many back-to-school operations. To date more than 600.000 School-in-a-Box kits have been sent around the world.