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Children's views to ensure building back better and resilient communities after typhoon Yolanda


©UNICEF Philippines/2013/JMaitem
Students participate in a discussion during a class held inside a UNICEF tent in the village of Cogon, Palo, Leyte.

MANILA, 20 December 2013 – 11 year old Mary Joy's home was severely damaged when a coconut tree fell onto their roof and Yolanda's powerful winds blew down the home's walls, in the barangay of Tolosa, on Leyte island, last month. Six weeks on, during the first children's consultation organized by humanitarian agencies, Mary Joy had the chance to express herself on what she needs, and how she feels that children have needs that most adults are not aware of. "I hope they can help us rebuild the houses, and they can help my mother find a job. I [also] hope they can start fixing our school, and they can give us school supplies," Mary Joy said.

Mary Joy was one of 124 children who spoke openly and honestly about their fears of wind, rain, waves, and of ghosts and alcohol consumption amongst adults. Many also spoke about fears that their parents would not recover their livelihoods, which may require them to drop out of school. The consultation, co-organised by Save the Children, Plan International, World Vision and UNICEF, highlighted the importance of ensuring children are involved in rehabilitation efforts and processes.

"As Typhoon Haiyan wreaked devastation on millions, the Filipinos, especially children, have shown remarkable spirit and resilience. We need to continue listening to children and working with them to facilitate their participation. They will be a part of our response and continue to be source of the resilience they have demonstrated," said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Representative in the Philippines.

The typhoon had a huge toll on the services which matter most to children, such as schools, daycare centres, health centres and homes. Yet, as is often the case in disasters in the Philippines and elsewhere, children's views have so far not been sufficiently considered, with their needs often being decided for them.

By taking children's views into account, agencies and the Government of the Philippines can ensure that the decisions being made, which affect children's lives now and in the future, really respond to their needs. Children play a vital role not only in helping rebuild, but also in reducing risk and strengthening resilience in the long term.

Children made important recommendations such as on how more toilets were needed in evacuation centres, more sanitary napkins should be included in hygiene kits, carpentry tools should be provided in shelter kits, and on the urgent need to clean-up after the oil spill off the coast of Panay Island. 16-year-old Darren from Dulag, Leyte, and his family survived the typhoon by sheltering in a nearby house built from cement, and was one of the many children who highlighted what they can bring to the table: "Children like us can plant seedlings that can replace the trees that were toppled in order to avoid flooding in the future. We can also support the activities of the different organizations working in our community, especially those focused on children. In this way, we can contribute to our own development, and we can further invite other organizations to help us."

Following these first consultations with children, Save the Children, Plan, UNICEF, and World Vision recommend that:

  1. All relief actors take children’s recommendations into consideration in their current relief efforts
  2. The Government of Philippines convenes consultations with children in the forthcoming Post-Disaster Needs Assessment
  3. Civil society organizations, international agencies and the national disaster agency work to identify ways help children best to prepare for future hazards
  4. All relief actors should provide a framework for accountability to affected children.

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For further information, please contact:

Zafrin Chowdhury, UNICEF Philippines, Tel: +63 2 901 0177 Mobile +63 917 867 8366, zchowdhury@unicef.org

Marge Francia, UNICEF Philippines, Tel. +63 2 901 0173, Mobile +63 917 858 9557 mfrancia@unicef.org


Note:
The report, After Yolanda: What Children Need, Think and Recommend, is being released today, and includes the views of 124 children in the worst-affected areas of Capiz, Cebu, East Samar, Iloilo, Leyte and West Samar.

 

 
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