by Jeff Ratcliffe, ChildFund Grants Compliance Coordinator
I spent last week in Lusaka, providing Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) training to 12 staff from ChildFund Zambia and our partner organizations.
The DRR process helps communities identify internal and external hazards with potential impact on children and families who live there. We drill down further to identify what makes those communities vulnerable to the hazards. Our trained staff then guide community members — adults and children — through the process of developing their capacity to overcome those vulnerabilities.
At the Lusaka training session, our staff and partners were especially eager to learn how child-led disaster risk reduction could be applied at the community level.
The training had perhaps seemed a bit abstract until the ChildFund group watched a film that featured children in Nepal talking about what was important to them and how they felt climate change had led to more natural disasters that were impacting their futures.
One Lusaka participant said she had not realized the full extent of hardships that floods and landslides cause people in other countries. Community-level disasters that were spoken of in Nepal also occur in Zambia, and children in both countries have been forced to cope with these calamities and their aftermaths. Nepalese children have played a vital role in introducing community-level response plans. For example, children in one Nepalese community needed to cross a river to go to school. During disaster risk response training, the children identified the crossing as a hazard and worked with adults to have a bridge built.
Inspired by the children’s active roles in Nepal, the Lusaka group began mapping out plans to guide Zambian communities in taking initiative and developing community disaster response plans. They zeroed in on ways to communicate effectively with children and engage them in community action.
When news came of the earthquake in Japan and subsequent tsunami, the team’s work took on an increased level of urgency and meaning. Japan, a nation accustomed to frequent earthquakes, has highly developed action plans. Their citizens are well educated in disaster risk reduction and have community-level disaster risk reduction plans.
Our ChildFund team in Zambia now has a better understanding of the life-saving benefits of disaster preparedness.