Lesly, from the Piura region of Peru, covers her face in a blanket during the hour-long walk through desert to reach her school. A few months ago, floods destroyed her home and forced her family to flee their village. Despite this, the 16-year-old’s aspirations for the future are such that she is determined to reach school from the temporary shelter in which she now resides.
After disasters, girls like Lesly just want to regain a sense of normalcy and routine. Being able to go back to school and learn with their friends is a huge issue for both their recovery, resilience and their educational needs. However, the Ministry of Education in Peru had to take the difficult decision to delay the start of the new term until just last month, as many roads and school buildings were damaged.
Luckily, Lesly has been learning about risks and resilience, for example learning how to identify risks and how to reduce them in the face of disaster, at one of Plan International’s child-friendly spaces, known locally as Plan of Joy:
“I’ve felt very happy being part of the Plan of Joy with my friends because they have taught us a lot - like how to identify risks. We have fun [at the shelter] and forget about the disaster.”
Bringing resilience into education
In Latin America, Plan International is implementing safe school projects in 11 countries to strengthen disaster management committees. These committees identify safe evacuation routes, practice evacuation drills and undertake child-led risk assessments, as well as incorporating violence protection measures.
Plan International’s 3-year Safe Schools Global Programme engages education sector partners both pre and and post-disaster, to promote schools as a platform for children and youth to grow up safely in resilient communities with their rights respected.
Disaster risk reduction measures work
Plan International had been working with the Balangkayan community on DRR measures before Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) hit the Philippines in 2013. In the municipality, hundreds of homes were destroyed but there were zero casualties.
After Haiyan, child-centred organisations including Plan International conducted an analysis of all policies that touched on DRR and children. The results showed that there was no policy that adequately incorporated the unique vulnerabilities of children during disasters.
As a result, the Philippines government developed new legislation – the Children in Emergencies law that mandates local government units to collect data that shows the impact of disasters on children, find alternative evacuation centres, and prioritise the unique needs of children during and after disasters.
Ensuring girls voices are heard
If we can build the resilience of girls, who are among the most vulnerable, then we can build the resilience of anyone and everyone.
Read more about how girls are preparing for natural disasters.