Flood-affected children recover through play

1 September 2016

Following severe flooding in China, children are recovering, learning and playing again thanks to a Plan International project.

Heavy rainfall during July caused both the Yangtze and Huai rivers in South East China to flood. Over 300 people were killed by the floods and resulting landslides and debris flows, while around 500,000 people had to be evacuated.

Plan International is supporting flood-affected communities in Hunan and Anhui provinces. Working alongside partner organisations and the local government, we have set up a space where children can learn, play and overcome the problems they face as a result of the floods.

“The community was totally underwater for more than a week,” says Zhang Hongman, Programme Support Manager at Plan International China. “Although the flood has receded, families are busy with recovery work and their children are exposed to risks.”

Safe space

We are very proud to see those happy faces.

Until the start of the new school term, children didn’t have a safe place to spend their time while their parents repair their homes and communities. As a result, a child-friendly space was set up in Yiyang in early August.

“The child-friendly space is very popular with local children and villagers, and the number of children increases daily,” says Liao Sinian, one of 4 volunteers working on the project. “There are currently more than 70 children spending their time there every day.”

Three-year-old Xiao Yun was one of the first children who attended the child-friendly space. Volunteers noted that she rarely spoke or smiled. Like many other children, her parents are busy with reconstruction and farm work and have little time to care for their children..

Xiao Yun has begun to display an increasingly positive demeanor as she continues to attend the project. Another volunteer, Liu Yuqi says: “On the fifth day there was a big smile on her face!”

Xiao Yun’s father says: “We feel relieved to send our daughter here. It is a very safe place indeed.”

Playing, learning and recovering

Children take part in various activities at the child-friendly space, which are led by the team of volunteers. These include writing, creating artwork, singing and other activities to keep children learning, active and happy. Liao Sinian says: “We are very proud to see those happy faces, showing us the impact of the floods has gone.”

Plan International has also distributed 510 child learning kits and 410 family hygiene kits to flood-affected communities in Hunan Province and Anhui Province, benefiting over 4,500 people.

Plan International China’s Country Director Sven Coppens says: “We hope that through our response, and especially the activities being delivered in the most severely affected communities, children can receive psychosocial rehabilitation and be equipped for disasters with the necessary skills and knowledge.”

Emergencies, Child protection in emergencies