Emergencies: Disaster risk reduction
UNICEF supports child-centred disaster risk reduction to prevent or mitigate humanitarian emergencies by reducing the impact of natural hazards and human induced risks
In the last few decades, Pakistan has faced natural hazards such as flooding, earthquakes and landslides that have escalated into humanitarian disasters, with the loss of lives, homes and livelihood. Apart from this, general risks such as drowning, fire, snake/insect bite, road accidents and electrocution are some of the common causes of child suffering and deaths in the country.
A community’s ability to prepare for and cope with natural hazards can prevent disasters and save lives. But an unprepared community is unable to cope, resulting in massive loss of life and the undermining of decades of social and economic progress, especially for children.
Natural hazards in Pakistan are likely to increase as a result of climate change and environmental degradation. More extreme weather events, coupled with poor preparedness in communities, can only increase the risks of humanitarian disasters.
Monitoring, forecasting and early warning of natural hazards in Pakistan needs to be sufficiently matched by disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures to equip communities with the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves.
UNICEF is focusing on capacity building of children and communities in Pakistan to deal with natural as well as human induced risks through awareness sessions. Evidence supports that children are the best change agents at both home and in the communities, hence they are a very good channel to pass information on to the communities.
Resource stories on the four themes of earthquake, floods, landslides, extreme weather and general risks mentioned above, have been prepared while short animated films of the stories and jingles regularly air on TV and radio. The stories that include short texts and illustrations have been developed in Urdu and Sindhi. The short films have been developed in Urdu, Sindhi and Pashto. The format of the stories is very interactive and encourages children to think. Guidance notes on each page of the stories instructs how to involve children while narrating the story.
These resources were pretested with children, parents and teachers to ensure validity and relevance of messages. Cross-sectoral messages pertaining to UNICEFs five programmes (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Health, Nutrition, Education and Child protection) have been incorporated in these resources. Messages are disseminated through story telling sessions and animated film viewing sessions organized by UNICEF.
Both development as well as humanitarian partners of UNICEF including government have been engaged for the dissemination and application of these message-based communication tools. These resources have been shared with all the UNICEF field offices in Pakistan along with their respective Provincial Disaster Management Authorities and implementing partners. Children mainly of primary age group and beyond are the primary audience of these communication tools. Parents and communities are the secondary audiences.