Seventy-eight people have been killed and over 100,000 left homeless after a series of torrential downpours caused havoc along Peru's Pacific coast.
A sudden and abnormal warming of Pacific waters off the South American country has been blamed for unleashing a torrent of water. The intense rains are the worst seen in two decades, authorities have said.
Half a million affected by floods
So far, more than 500,000 people have been affected by the heavy rains, floods and landslides in 20 regions of the country. Although there is no official number, more than 200,000 children are believed to be affected by this emergency.
It is crucial to pay attention to education in emergency situations.
“Disasters can generate different emotions in children, such as fear, a sense of loss, pain, or anger. They can all affect children’s self–esteem and stunt their development. Many children have lost their homes and some have lost family members. Emergency situations can also affect adults, causing violent or angry reactions, which children are exposed to,” explains Oscar Calero, Plan International’s Child Protection Specialist.
Childrens' education suffers
17-year-old Angie’s house was recently flooded and she and her family lost their food, clothes and furniture along with a stove they had recently bought with their savings.
Despite the heavy rain, Angie is still walking to school every day, often enduring dangerous electrical storms. “I like to study and learn. Now we are facing difficulties because our things are wet, some of them don’t work anymore and others were taken by the water… it’s like starting all over again.”
Oscar adds: “It is crucial to pay attention to education in emergency situations. Children need to return to school or alternative learning spaces need to be found so that they can continue with their education either in a formal or non-formal environment.”
“When disaster strikes, the government’s and civil society’s first response is to provide material support. However, people also suffer psychologically and need professional support to help them cope with the tragedy. This support can help them face the changes they are experiencing in their lives, and gives them the opportunity to process, recover and continue with their lives.”
Supporting children in Peru
Plan International is working to provide children, families and communities affected by the floods in Piura and Lima with hygiene and sanitation kits, building materials to repair their homes and food and water. We will also be establishing child-friendly spaces to give children a safe place to play and learn, provide psychosocial support and help them restore a sense of normality.