Conference seeks measures to protect kids from disasters

Update: December, 15/2016 - 15:12
Many farmers in Ninh Thuận Province were unable to work on their fields due to drought. The situation of natural disasters has become increasingly complex in Việt Nam, with new forms taking place on a large scale, causing great loss to mankind, economy and infrastructure. – Photo
Viet Nam News

NINH THUẬN – Measures to protect and respond to the needs of children with climate change and natural disasters increasingly striking Việt Nam sits at the top of the agenda of the National Conference on Child-Centered Disaster Risk Reduction held in the central coastal province of Ninh Thuận today.

Child-centered disaster risk reduction is a new approach that focuses on vulnerabilities rather than shock and stress, and bridges humanitarian and development work by strengthening the resilience of children, families and communities before the crises, including through preparedness, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

The situation of natural disasters has become increasingly complex in Việt Nam, with new forms taking place on a large scale, causing great loss to mankind, economy and infrastructure. 

Since the beginning of this year, it is estimated that 171 people have been killed and 30 people are missing due to natural disasters, also causing an economic loss of some VNĐ37 trillion (US$1.65 billion).

“During the current floods in the central areas, 27 people were killed, including 10 children, from November 28 to December 12. Some of the children were killed on the way to school”, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoàng Văn Thắng told the conference, the first of its kind held in the country.

“It is clear that women and children are most vulnerable to natural disasters and we need to implement further efforts to reduce the impact of disasters on children,” he said.

Children in Việt Nam are increasingly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters exacerbate the existing multiple vulnerabilities and inequity among children. Slow onset of some disasters, such as drought and salt-water intrusion, have long-term consequences on the wellbeing of children, including nutrition, health, education, child protection and social protection, he said.

“In hazard-prone areas, children pay a heavy price when these hazards materialise into disasters,” Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF representative in Việt Nam, said.

“Climate change and natural disasters are increasingly and rightly recognised as new challenges for children and indeed for Việt Nam, which is ranked among the six most affected countries by climate change in the world,” he said.

A significant part of Việt Nam was affected this year by El Nino, which left more than half a million children in need of humanitarian assistance. Many of these children were already suffering from acute malnutrition, poor hygiene and sanitation conditions and a lack of care, he said.

At the conference, participants heard the vision for child-centered disaster risk reduction in Việt Nam and intervention strategies and measures to increase capacity of institutions, communities, families and children for disaster risk reduction.

They also shared experiences and lessons learned from disaster preparedness and emergency response to identify areas that could be strengthened. – VNS