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In Kazakhstan, ensuring youth voices are heard in disaster risk reduction

By Chris Schuepp

UST-KAMENOGORSK, Kazakhstan, 17 October 2012 – In Missing you, Erkezhan Kalibekova, 16, describes the loss of her parents, who died in a flash flood in this Central Asian nation. She wishes they could have known what to do so they could have survived – and seen her grow into a teenager.

'Solid foundation', by Madina Tyhmetova, 14, Kazakhstan, 2012. This appeal for townspeople to build more durable buildings was created at the 2012 Kazakhstan OneMinutesJr. workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction.


Madina Tyhmetova, 14, shows images of her town in Solid foundation. She ends the video with an appeal for people to build more durable buildings.

Children raise voices through video-making workshop

Both girls have recently undergone a five-day OneMinutesJr. video-making training course on disaster risk reduction (DRR). Following the premise that there are no ‘natural’ disasters, only natural hazards, DRR aims to reduce the damage caused by such natural hazards as earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones through an ethic of prevention.

The training aims to advance children and youth participation in decision-making processes. One intended outcome is ensuring that policy-makers hear children’s voices on disasters that have occurred in their environments.

Through the workshop, the girls produced one-minute videos on DRR activities.

The international community listens

The best of 18 videos produced were shown during International Disaster Risk Reduction Day celebrations in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This year’s global theme explored what girls and women are doing to promote preparedness in their homes, communities and societies.

© UNICEF2012/Schuepp
OneMinutesJr. workshop participant Saken Mautbekov, 14, shoots footage at the Irtysh River in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan.

Participants in the event including local authorities, the Almaty Department of Emergency Situations, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), UNICEF, the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), representatives of universities and Kazakh mass media discussed the impact of disasters on development, climate change and its linkages with disasters, and current DRR initiatives in Kazakhstan.

The videos will also be shown at such global events as the Fifth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, 22–25 October, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Central Asian delegations will comprise representatives of the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Voices reverberate at the local level

At the national level, UNICEF and the Government’s main task is to integrate DRR into the school curriculum and integrate DRR components into the national and local programmes of development and budgets of the different regions of Kazakhstan.

Teachers will require training by education or civil protection departments.

© UNICEF2012/Schuepp
Directing her film 'Missing you,' 16-year-old Erkezhan Kalibekova explains to the teenage camera operator how she imagines the starting scene of her short movie about a disaster in Central Asia.

Chief Specialist of Ust-Kamenogorsk city Emergency Department Marina Liskova says that, though teaching DRR is a role 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.”

This OneMinutesJr. workshop is part of a wider project of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department’s Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO), ‘Supporting disaster risk reduction amongst institutions and vulnerable communities in Central Asia’, which is funded by the Directorate-General for the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).

The Commission funds emergency response to and preparedness for natural hazards and conflicts in the main disaster-prone regions of the world. The project will embed cost-effective strategies such as ensuring schools are safe – as spotlighted in the videos – and that children are taught about DRR.

UNICEF, along with government and NGO partners, is promoting ‘Child-Centred DRR’ that recognizes a child’s right to survival, protection, development and participation. Girls and boys are contributing to analysing the risks faced by their communities, what they can 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.



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