The impacts of hazards and threats can be significantly modified through adequate risk reduction and preparedness. The factors that contribute to effective disaster risk reduction (DRR) have been documented and widely applied. However, the nuances of DRR that relate specifically to very young and preschool-aged children are less prominent in the literature, despite the heightened vulnerability of children below the age of eight years. This paper reviews the research and practice literature about early childhood and DRR. A focus on early childhood can be incorporated at national, community, classroom and household levels. The very process of undertaking a DRR assessment for young children has been shown to stimulate raised awareness and increased support for this age group. Information sharing and participatory activities that acknowledge the capabilities of pre-schoolaged children are effective DRR mechanisms.
Young children who experience disasters are at high risk of injury, malnutrition, disease and disability. Children under eight years of age are especially vulnerable because distress and trauma can affect their growth and development, and can impact related long-term health, neurological and psychosocial outcomes (UNICEF, 2011, 2017). Infants who have been weaned and children with low socioeconomic status have been identified as the most at-risk groups for neglect, abuse and death in post-disaster contexts (Datar et al., 2013). Therefore, a focus on early childhood disaster risk reduction (ECDRR) at national/regional, community, classroom and household levels is essential.