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Ensuring girls' voices matter in disaster risk reduction through education in Kazakhstan

13 October 2012 - Today is the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. This year, girls and women showed the world what they are doing to reduce risks and advocate for community resilience. Check out a series of stories on disaster preparedness in the region.

By Chris Schuepp

UST-KAMENOGORSK, Kazakhstan, 12 October 2012 – Erkezhan Kalibekova, 16, poignantly describes in Missing you the grief caused by the loss of a girl's parents who died in a flash flood in this Central Asian nation. She wishes they could have known what to do so their lives would have been spared and they could see their daughter grow into a teenage girl.

Another girl, Madina Tyhmetova, 14, used her camera to show various images of her town. She ends her film by simply appealing for people to build more durable buildings with Solid foundation.

Both girls have recently undergone a five-day video making training on disaster risk reduction (DRR) with other school children. They produced one-minute videos on disaster risk reduction activities to advance children and youth participation in decision-making processes. This includes raising awareness of kids’ opinions about with disasters caused by natural hazards such as floods, earthquakes, landslides or extreme temperatures in their local environments to policy makers.

The best of 18 short movies produced were shown today during the International Disaster Risk Reduction Day celebrations in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Local authorities, the Almaty Department of Emergency Situations, UNISDR, UNDP, UNOCHA, UNICEF, UNDPI, Red Crescent Society, universities and Kazakhstan mass media discussed impact of disasters on development, climate change, its linkages with disasters and current initiatives aimed at strengthening resilience of communities living in the areas prone to disasters in Kazakhstan.

This year's global theme showed the world what girls and women are doing to reduce disasters risks and promote preparedness in their homes, communities, and societies. The video making workshop is part of a wider DIPECHO project, “Supporting disaster risk reduction amongst institutions and vulnerable communities in Central Asia, which is funded by the Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection of the European Commission (ECHO).

The Commission funds emergency response to and preparedness of natural disasters and conflicts outside the European Union. The project will embed cost-effective strategies such as ensuring schools are safe – as spotlighted in the videos- and also equally important that children are taught the knowledge on DRR.

UNICEF and Government and NGO partners are promoting “Child-Centred DRR” that recognizes a child`s right to survival, protection, development and to participation. Girls and boys are contributing to analyzing the risks faced by their communities, what they do to help educate their families and peers about the risks and solutions to risks, encouraging others to take part in community-based resilience building and helping to build capacities, knowledge and confidence.

Climate change is one main driver of disaster risk. Governments, UNICEF and partners are also supporting policies, strategies and capacities that better align DRR and climate change adaptation.

These videos will also be shown at the global events such as the Fifth Asian ministerial conference on disaster risk reduction on 22-25 October in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Kazakhstan along with Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan Governments will take part as the Central Asian delegations there. Armenia and Georgia from the South Caucasus will also be present.

At the national level, UNICEF and the government`s main task is to integrate disaster risk reduction into the school curriculum and inclusion of the DRR components into the national and local programs of development and budgets of the regions of Kazakhstan.

Nazgul Zheniskhan, 16, made a film about a typical disaster risk reduction class in their school. She wants to show how her teacher starts a lesson and conducts drills. She makes the case that if all teachers can communicate these safety instructions in their classes, many girls and boys lives would be saved. Teachers would only know what sort of safety instructions to teach children if they are trained by education or civil protection departments.

“Teaching children on preparedness and actions during disasters is one of the main tasks of the government. This is the first time that I have seen children creating such video films on their own to teach others; this method could be applied in our practice on strengthening the skills on DRR”, said Ms. Marina Liskova, the Chief Specialist of Ust-Kamenogorsk city Emergency Department.

As the girls and boys of Kazakhstan learn about the different types of disasters that could affect them, the hope is that they never have to put their new-found knowledge to the test. Or that they never have to experience what Erkezhan has gone through.



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