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Child-Centred Risk Reduction Research-into Action Brief: Child-centred disaster risk reduction

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Overview

The past decade has seen an increased focus within research and practice on placing children at the centre of efforts to reduce disaster risk, including those risks associated with climate change. An increasing body of research demonstrates that children can, and do, play an active role in reducing disaster risks, and the benefits of involving children in disaster risk reduction not just to the children themselves but to families, schools and wider communities. This brief provides an outline of the rationale and supporting evidence for CCDRR, including 4CA, and suggests some key principles, recommendations for integrating child-centered approaches into DRR efforts. It also identifies key challenges to when implementing CCDRR in practice.

Introduction

Children are often perceived as passive or helpless “victims” in times of disasters, with limited potential to help safeguard themselves, their families and communities against natural hazards, including those associated with climate change, and other shocks and stressors (Tanner et al, 2009). Consequently, DRR, including climate change adaptation (CCA), often excludes children. Instead, it focuses on “top-down” efforts targeted at adults, with the assumption that they are appropriate to the needs and priorities of their families, including children and young people (Mitchell et al, 2009).

However, a growing body of research shows that children can, and do, play an active role in reducing disaster risks (Tanner, 2010). Evidence also demonstrates the benefits of involving children in DRR, including CCA, not just to children but to families, schools and the wider community (Haynes and Tanner, 2015; Lopez et al, 2012; Ronan et al, 2015; Save the Children, 2008). The concept of CCDRR has been receiving increasing focus in literature and in the practice of child-focused agencies as a term to encompass the values and commitment to involving children in DRR, including CCA* (e.g., Amri et al. in press).

In CCDRR, children are acknowledged as actors whose perspectives, ideas and knowledge – as well as their active efforts – contribute meaningfully before, during and after disasters, including those associated with climate change, both in DRR programming and beyond (Lopez et al, 2012; Penrose and Takiki, 2006). CCDRR takes a childcentred approach, drawing from the notion that when children are empowered and supported by adults, they can be better prepared to protect themselves and others, and also generate positive changes among their family and communities (Back, Cameron, and Tanner, 2009). As CCDRR includes addressing risks associated with a range of hazards, including those linked to a changing climate, it should also encompass 4CA in research, policy and practice.