Empowering children to tackle natural disasters


New Delhi: Fourteen-year-old, Rehmath and her friend Sabina, a Class 9 student, were in school in Ahmedabad in Gujarat when the massive earthquake hit the state in 2001. The two were lucky to escape. They now feel that had they been informed about disaster management, their friends would have survived.

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“About 13 children in our school died in the earthquake as a wall fell on them. Many like me survived as we were in the open ground hoisting the flag, as it was Republic day,” Rehmath said.

Over 20 children from schools located in disaster prone states such as Gujarat, Orissa, Bihar and Delhi participated in the launch of national platform to promote Child Participation in DRR Monday and shared their views how they faced and helped the others during natural disasters.

Ten-year-old Vikram from Bihar’s Raniganj, was lucky enough as he attended the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programme for children in his school and he saved his two sisters during a storm. They all got under the bed when the storm hit their house.

“I was sleeping with my brothers and sisters, but we woke up because the thunder and wind were loud, my two sisters were really scared. Learning in the (CDRR) programme that one should not panic I asked them to get under a bed and few hours after that the roof of the house fell down. Thanks to the disaster risk reduction programme,” Vikram said.

“Children should be active participants in DRR effort. At home or at school they should know how to protect themselves during natural calamities like earthquakes, floods and cyclone,” Margarita Tileva, chief, emergency solution United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.