Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction: UNICEF Statement


Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction: UNICEF Statement

Global News 00:09

Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction: UNICEF Statement

On 15 March, Neena Sasaki, 5, surveys the wreckage of her home, which was destroyed by the 11 March tsunami, in Rikuzen-Takaata, a small town in Iwate Prefecture. Her family has returned to their home to salvage some belongings. The town suffered thousands of fatalities; relief workers ran out of body bags during recovery operations. By 24 March 2011 in Japan, aftershocks continue in areas affected by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated the northeast coast on 11 March. The confirmed death toll stands at 9,408, and 14,716 people remain missing. The quake and tsunami have also damaged the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants, giving rise to a nuclear emergency. Both plants suffered explosions, and the Fukushima Daiichi plant has experienced dangerous radiation leaks, causing widespread radioactive contamination of vegetables, tap water and milk. Some 261,000 people remain in evacuation centres, down from almost a half million people on 16 March. Over 83,000 of evacuees are from communities near the damaged Fukushima power plants. Some 90 per cent of telecommunications has been restored, but 216,000 households remain without power, and 760,000 are without water. The Government has initiated construction of temporary housing and is assessing the number of children orphaned by the disaster. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is assisting the Government’s response, and UNICEF has deployed logistics teams. The Japan Committee for UNICEF has ordered early childhood development kits, schools-in-a-box, and recreation kits for distribution to children affected by the emergency. The International Atomic Energy Agency is coordinating international support for the Government’s management of the nuclear crisis.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-0427/Dean
SENDAI, Japan/ HONG KONG, 18 March, 2015 – UNICEF expresses solidarity and sympathy with the governments and people of Vanuatu and Tuvalu as they address the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. UNICEF has been doing what we can to help people cope, and we will continue to do so.

Disaster Risk Reduction is a priority for UNICEF and we appreciate the efforts undertaken to develop the post-2015 framework on disaster risk reduction. The focus on disaster risk reduction is an important contribution to the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

Global experience shows that the impact of disasters is felt most in the poorest and most disadvantaged countries ― and by the poorest and most disadvantaged people – particularly children – within these countries.

By the end of the 1990s, climate-change related disasters affected approximately 66 million children per year. In the coming decades, this number is projected to reach 200 million.

Children are affected by disasters in myriad ways – death or injury, and the threat of disease caused by disrupted access to basic services such as health, nutrition, safe water and sanitation. By missing out on education, they are robbed of the opportunity to grow and nurture their minds during critical developmental years.

On 2 August, a community health worker vaccinates a child during the UNICEF-supported measles and polio immunization campaign under way in the Ifo refugee camp in North Eastern Province, near the Kenya-Somalia border. The camp for Somalia refugees is among three that comprise the Dadaab camps, located near the town of Dadaab in Garissa District. By 2 August 2011, the crisis in the Horn of Africa – affecting primarily Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti – continues, with a worsening drought, rising food prices and an ongoing conflict in Somalia. More than 12 million people are threatened by the region’s worst drought in 60 years. Somalia faces one of the world’s most severe food security crises as it continues to endure an extended humanitarian emergency, with tens of thousands fleeing into Kenya and Ethiopia. More than 10,000 Somalis a week are now arriving in the Dadaab camps in north-eastern Kenya, where aid partners are struggling to meet the needs of 400,000 people. In drought-affected areas of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti, some 500,000 severely malnourished children are at imminent risk of dying, while a further 1.6 million moderately malnourished children and the wider-affected population are at high risk of disease. In northern Kenya, more than 25 per cent of children suffer from global acute malnutrition. UNICEF, together with Governments, UN, NGO and community partners, is supporting a range of interventions and essential services, especially for the displaced and for refugees, including feeding programmes, immunization – mass vaccination campaigns are now underway in drought-affected parts of Kenya and Somalia – and other health outreach, as well as access to safe water and to improve sanitation. In Kenya, the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) have reached 290,000 children with polio and measles vaccinations in refugee host communities near the Dadaab camps. UNICEF is providing the vaccines, as wel
© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1238/Modola
Children can further suffer from psychological trauma, or face exploitation, violence, abuse, displacement, and separation from their caregivers. All of these effects have long-term consequences, not only for the children themselves, but for generations to come.
In the picture, 10-years-old Assia Issa study in UNICEF-supported temporary learning space in Danamadja site, southern Chad. Along with family reunification and psychosocial support activities at child friendly spaces, UNICEF has also been working with partners to supply refugee and returnee sites with clean water and medicines. Assia and her grandmother left Car in January 2014, after the attack to their village Carnot, a town located 424 kilometres northwest of Bangui, capital of CAR. ©UNICEF Chad/2014/Manuel Moreno Ten-year-old Assia Issa lives with her grandmother Anassa Andoulaye in Danamadja site, located in southern Chad, a transit center for returnees from CAR. They left CAR in January 2014, after the attack to their village Carnot, a town located 424 kilometres northwest of Bangui, capital of CAR.

© UNICEF/PFPG2015-1488/Moreno
There is no doubt that children are among the most vulnerable to hazards. What is less recognized is that they have an important role to play in reducing risk. Girls and boys, have proven capable of mapping the hazards they face, identifying those people most at risk and advocating for change. They can play an even more significant role where they are part of national and community plans and processes. This was the case in Japan in 2011 and the benefits are clear.
UNICEF supports a post 2015 framework on disaster risk reduction that puts children at the centre of its agenda and addresses the following:
• Sound disaster risk assessments, based on data that is inclusive and is disaggregated by age, gender and disability.
• Primary health care systems that are informed by an analysis of risk including the risk of epidemics and pandemics, are decentralized and community-based so they not only reduce vulnerability related to health and nutrition, but are resilient and more sustainable themselves.

• Water, sanitation and hygiene services that consider all risks, including those additional risks posed by climate change, and build the adaptive capacity of communities themselves to deal with shocks and stress.

• A recognition of the special role that schools and education play in reducing disaster risk. This includes support to scale up structural safety of schools, emergency preparedness, and knowledge and education, as three pillars of comprehensive school safety.
On 25 February, (left-right) students Elyse Christian Mianvontsoa and Tiavina Rasoaremalala, both 12, wash their hands at a UNICEF-provided covered bucket with a faucet after using the latrine, at Lohanosy Primary School in Lohanosy Village in Analamanga Region. Many families, including theirs, are struggling to both provide food and pay their children’s school fees. “I know that my parents have difficulties making money, and it’s a big challenge for me, so I try harder at school. I want to be a doctor when I grow up,” Elyse Christian said. “I like studying science and history at school. My dream is to finish school and become a teacher,” Tiavina said. “For me, it’s very difficult to follow [along] at school because we don’t eat enough at home, and I often have a stomach ache. If my parents don’t work, we don’t have enough food.” Tiavina is one of nine children in her family. Her parents grow rice for food, and her mother also makes and sells rope, to buy for food and clothing and to pay school fees. UNICEF supported construction of classrooms, the water and sanitation facilities and a sports field, as well as promotes good hygiene practices at the model primary school, which is built on land donated by the community, and with support from the Ministry of Education and the private sector. In February 2015 in Madagascar, children and families continue to face considerable challenges and constraints as the island nation slowly emerges from a protracted and debilitating political crisis and the ensuing economic decline. The country remains one of the world’s poorest: 91 per cent of the population live on less than US $2.00 a day, and many of the poorest are children – who have been hardest hit in the crisis and live in extreme poverty. The crisis also resulted in a decrease in public investment in the social sectors, weakening further the delivery of basic social services, as well as access to, and use of, these vital services. The health

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0304/Matas
• Social protection and safety net measures that are available to those most at risk to mitigate the impacts of floods, droughts and other shocks. These systems should be flexible enough to include those who will be most negatively affected by a disaster (children from poor and extremely poor households, children with disability, pregnant and lactating women) and supported by social workers to connect families to different social services.

UNICEF is committed to strengthening the resilience of all girls and boys to all shocks. It is also committed to strengthening the systems they require to flourish. Among other things, this will require better integration of humanitarian and development work, focused on the underlying drivers of risk. UNICEF will also continue to support the development of capacities for preparedness and effective response which lies at the heart of disaster risk reduction.

In supporting partners to operationalize the new DRR framework UNICEF will promote, as appropriate, a multi-hazard approach linking measures to address disasters, climate change, conflict and epidemics.

Last but certainly not least, as disaster risk is an intergenerational issue, UNICEF will continue to work with its partners to promote the participation and rights of all children, and women, in DRR and their vital role in strengthening resilience.