Youth Voices – The children's charter
The Children's Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is an action plan developed in consultation with over 600 children and youth from 21 African, Asian and Latin American countries.
Developed for children by children, the charter combines knowledge about the impacts disasters have on their lives, community networks that offer support, and their priorities going forward.
The charter is currently is being used to connect children's priorities to local and national strategies. Here are the top five priorities voiced by children around the world:
1. Schools must be safe, and education must not be interrupted
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew devasted southwestern Haiti and many families lost all of their assets and means to earn a living. Children and youth also lost important school supplies including textbooks, school uniforms and backpacks, which impacted their ability to get back to school. In disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning, getting kids back in school as quickly as possible is critical to ensuring they have a stable future.
"I wish I will be able to stay at school until I finish my study. I want to become a doctor so that everyone in my village can access health services." – Darline, age 18, Haiti
2. Child protection must be a priority before, during and after a disaster
Child protection efforts in DRR planning help prevent and respond to physical, sexual and psychological violence as well as other harmful practices. In Jakarta, Indonesia, adolescents living in flood-prone areas of use creative methods to communicate the issues they face before, during and after emergencies.
"I like being a leader. Now that we’ve seen our idea become a reality, we’ve realized that adolescents have a role to play to make our situation and living conditions better. We can have a say in our future." – Devi, age 18, Indonesia
3. Children have the right to participate and to access the information they need
Children and youth can play important disaster risk management leadership roles in their schools and communities. Their unique insights can contribute to DRR plans and provide new ideas on how to meaningfully engage children and youth in formal implementation. In Laos, students gain confidence and learn new, life-saving skills as participants in a hazard risk management programs at schools.
"I am very proud to learn and be a student representative for school disaster management. These knowledge and skills will make us safe for life." - Githgee, age 10, Laos
4. Community infrastructure must be safe, and relief and recontruction must help reduce future risk
The government of Uttar Pradesh, India, was an early pioneer in implementing Comprehensive School Safety (CSS) policies, ensuring that every new school would be built to a high standard. The state faces challenges including high earthquake risk, vulnerable school buildings and lack of knowledge about earthquake-resistant construction methods. In response, officials integrated earthquake resistant designs into new school construction projects. The initiative was further supported by training local masons and engineers in quake-resistant building practices.
"In total, 10,000 masons participated in the trainings and received certificates, which gave them credibility for obtaining future work." – Comprehensive School Safety India case study
5. Disaster Risk Reduction must reach children and youth living in the most vulnerable situations
When disasters strike, children and youth living in vulnerable situations face bigger risks than individuals with more support. With limited access to housing, healthcare and education as well as a higher exposure to violence, they are some of the world’s most marginalized people. In India, children and youth advocate for DRR strategy development by identifying hazards and advising on solutions in their communities.
"Proper shelters should be made for children who live on the streets so in case of any natural disaster like earthquakes, storms and rain, they can be safe." - Lucy, age 14, India