Introduction to this guide
Every year, over 220 million people are affected by natural hazards and related disasters - half of them are children. The climate is changing at a more rapid pace than scientists earlier predicted and the frequency and severity of climate-related hazards have risen during the last decade. Many of the recent humanitarian crises, from droughts in the Horn of Africa to the massive floods in Asia, are being linked to changes in the climate, though empirical evidence is lacking. Climate change poses serious threats to children's rights and survival all over the world, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and creating new ones. Wars, conflict and persecution are forcibly displacing more people than ever before, internally and across national borders. Natural hazards, climate change, economic crisis and conflict are drivers of displacement, food insecurity, lack of drinking water, damaged infrastructure and increasing rates of violence and exploitation, disproportionally affecting children.
Disaster risks and child protection risks: bringing perspectives together
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is a key component in the disaster management cycle, linking disaster preparedness and mitigation activities with longer term development efforts. Plan International believes that children, who are most affected by hazards – both natural and man-made – and who are often the least consulted in disaster management, have the right to participate in decisions which affect the realisation of their rights, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Plan International defines Child Centered Disaster Risk Reduction (CCDRR) as “an approach that fosters the agency of children and youth, in groups and as individuals, to work towards making their lives safeand their communities more resilient to disasters”4. The CCDRR approach has been successfully used in over twenty countries in the last ten years, with children successfully participating in childcentred hazard, vulnerability and capacity assessments, action planning and subsequent projects that reduce disaster risk and increase resilience. The important role of girls and boys and young people in promoting resilience is underpinned by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
While traditional child-centered disaster risk reduction approaches have focused primarily on environmental hazards, other risks that may exist in a child’s environment, such as social- and conflict-related risks, are not always included in assessment frameworks despite their major impact on the realisation of children’s rights, including girls’ and boys’ protection from violence and abuse. These risks are typically examined by child protection actors. In disaster, conflict and other crisis situations children are often exposed to new risks or exacerbated threats, such as physical violence, exploitation or family separation. While child protection actors place a stronger focus on understanding and mitigating the numerous protection risks in a child’s environment, in the family, at school, and in their community, they often lack a solid assessment and analysis of hazards and vulnerabilities related to climate, disaster and conflictrelated risks that impact on the protection situation of girls and boys.
In a 2016 pilot project in Myanmar, Plan International made a first attempt at bringing these different perspectives on risks together. By including a child protection perspective into the standard CCDRR methodology, Plan International Myanmar conducted ‘multi-risk assessments’ with children, young people and community members in Rakhine State, to understand the nature and impact of disaster, conflict and violence-related risks, and the capacities and coping mechanisms of children and their families. Existing guidance and tools to assess risks to children and communities were reviewed, and a set of adapted, integrated assessment tools was piloted. These tools form the basis of this guide.