Save the Children has coordinated with Philippine authorities to help evacuate thousands of residents to safety in the communities near the lava-oozing Mayon volcano, which experts believe could soon erupt.
"We are working with the government to make sure children and families are safe from a potentially life-threatening emergency situation," said Hussein Halane, Save the Children's senior advisor for humanitarian accountability.
"The good news is thousands of children in the area have participated in Save the Children's disaster survival training," Halane said. "That means they understand what is happening with the volcano and have learned emergency survival skills that give them more confidence in such an uncertain situation."
Save the Children works with schools in the Philippines to develop and practice emergency simulation exercises and evacuation drills for teachers and students. The aid agency also works with community leaders who have carried out risk assessment mappings of their neighbourhoods and identified vulnerable households. These leaders have already stockpiled goods like clean clothes and other emergency supplies for situations like the one currently developing around Mayon.
In the communities of Guinobatan and Camalig, which are near the volcano, the volunteer emergency response teams have been mobilised. About 12,000 people from these communities are now living in 40 shelters, and the emergency response teams are already overseeing two child friendly spaces in evacuation centres. These spaces give children an opportunity to play in a safe space and receive support amidst the potential trauma of an emergency situation. More will be set up by Save the Children in days to come.
Save the Children has worked on disaster risk preparedness in the Philippines since 2003. Together with children and schoolteachers, the organisation developed "My Little Book on Disaster Preparedness," which the Philippine government has adopted for use in 65 schools. This series of workbooks contains lessons, stories, games, and activities designed to educate children about different kinds of natural disasters and safety precautions.
The Philippines ranks number 12 among 200 countries and territories whose populations are most at risk from natural disasters according to the United Nations' Mortality Risk Index. Typhoons and flooding have been the most frequent natural disasters since 2000, and these events trigger landslides, mudslides, and storm surges.
However, volcanic eruptions are also a major risk factor in the Philippines. An eruption from Mayon killed dozens of people in 1993 and in 1991 Mount Pinatubo killed hundreds.
For more information or interviews on the ground please call Save the Children's media unit on +44 207 012 6836 / +44 7831 650 409