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Children and Young People's Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction: agency and resilience

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Forthcoming
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Abstract

Disasters are becoming increasingly common and complex, not
just because of their causes, normally a complex combination of
environmental, social and cultural factors, but also because of the
quantity and diversity of players and strategies that must be
involved and coordinated in order to cope with them. This
complexity is underpinned by the diversity of reactions and
behaviours by the populations affected by the disaster (shaped by
social class, age, gender, ethnicity, etc.) and how such disasters
shape, and are shaped by, the culture(s) of the various groups
affected. However, legal frameworks and bureaucratic emergency
plans tend to homogenise the population and overlook the
distinctive features of the various groups and individuals affected.
This is particularly so in the case of children and young people.
They are one of the most severely affected groups in a disaster
situation and, in part, this is because their voice and agency are
systematically ignored. They are made physically, politically and
emotionally vulnerable by being excluded from e.g. the
development of community preparedness initiatives. After a
severe flood, one young girl told us: ‘Adults need to understand
that children become more scared and agitated when they do not
know what is going on. Children have the right to know’. This book
will provide arguments for a transformation in children’s roles in
disaster, evidence for the effectiveness of their input into decision-
making and some practical steps (a framework) to assist policy makers
and practitioners create child centred ways of working in disasters. We
will show how such policy change benefits at risk communities as a whole.