Playing games to better prepare for natural disasters

from Croix-Rouge Française
Published on 11 Jan 2014 View Original

As part of a large program on Disaster Risk Reduction in Haiti, with funds from the European Commission’s Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO)), the French Red Cross (FRC) in partnership with the Haitian Red Cross aims at increasing community resilience and reducing their vulnerabilities in the Artibonite region. This project includes different activities: Community Intervention Teams capacity building, community micro projects to mitigate disasters, mass and door-to-door sensitizations, simulation exercises, establishment or improvement of local early-warning systems and contingency-planning. In the framework of this programme, similar objectives are also developed by the Spanish Red Cross in Leogane (West Region), the German Red Cross in Les Nippes and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) in Port-au-Prince.

“Zòn sa konn abitye gen siklòn” (“this area is regularly hit by cyclones”), explained Juveline, a little girl from La Porte, a locality of Grande Saline in Haiti. Indeed, the region of Lower-Artibonite is particularly exposed to hurricanes and floods. In 2012, the Isaac tropical storm caused a lot of damage in this area, entailing the destruction of many houses and schools.

Juveline, along with 60 other children and 40 additional youth and adults, has decided to take part in an educational game in order to improve her knowledge on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and to reinforce her preparedness capacity. “Li amizan pou m’aprann, li pale de dife, dezas ak anpil lot bagay” (“this is a fun way of learning about fire, disasters and many other things”), said the little girl after having played the risk land game (“Tè Malè” in Haitian Creole).

This educational game teaches children and parents on how to behave in case of a natural disaster and how to mitigate risks. Composed of 65 boxes, and based on the snake and ladders game, the game tackles topics such as flooding, deforestation, Emergency Family Plan, solidarity during emergencies and the like which is adapted to the Haitian context. For instance, the box 13 informs that the community contributes to deforestation. The player must therefore move back a few squares.

After the game ended, children and parents expressed their satisfaction and enthusiasm at the knowledge they gained on disaster preparedness and mitigation, thanking the organizers of the activity. “I am happy as I learned a lot of things today”, stated Juveline. Educating children on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is key to making communities better prepared and more resilient to future shocks, thus ensuring that DRR plays its integrated role in sustainable development.

By Charles NESLY and Frédéric BERTRAND,
French Red Cross