Save the Children Philippines has called on the government to put in place disaster risk preparedness plans that protect children and other vulnerable sectors as the country braces for a series of extreme weather events, amid the pandemic.
The child rights organization made the call on Tuesday to mark the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines, said the national and local strategies on DRR and climate change adaptation should respond to the compounding risks of COVID-19 pandemic on the most deprived and marginalized children who face risks during disasters and emergencies.
“The climate emergency and the COVID-19 compel us to assess, plan, and implement adaptive programs on DRR with a child-rights lens to achieve a better normal,” said Muyot.
Save the Children Philippines Humanitarian Manager Jerome Balinton joined the panel of experts in the forum on Disaster Risk Governance in the context of COVID-19, organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) last Tuesday.
Balinton has called on the local governments to establish accountability mechanisms that allow children, women, and other vulnerable sectors to be consulted on the government’s DRR and resilience and preparedness plans.
The 2019 World Risk Report ranked the Philippines ninth (9th) among the most disaster-prone countries worldwide. An estimated 74 percent of the country’s population, mostly children, is susceptible to multiple hazards, including coastal hazards such as typhoons, storm surges, and rising sea levels.
Save the Children Philippines advocated the enactment of Republic Act 10821 or the Children's Emergency Relief and Protection Act that directs national and local government agencies to implement and sustain comprehensive emergency program to protect children, pregnant and lactating mothers from disasters and emergencies.
The law also increases child involvement and participation in the disaster risk reduction planning and post-disaster needs assessment.
Muyot said children’s rights to survival, protection from abuse and exploitation, as well as access to critical health care and education are compromised in times of emergencies.
“Children’s views must be considered in the disaster risk reduction planning. It is the right of every child to speak and to be listened to on matters that affect their lives and their future,” said Muyot.