The Valenzuela City Experience: Child-friendly space in all evacuation centers | Plan International Skip to main content

The Valenzuela City Experience: Child-friendly space in all evacuation centers

Even after a disaster, the risk on safety and security in an evacuation center could still be high if proper management is not in place.

“We didn’t have partitions before in covered courts, that’s why the tendency of people losing their stuff is sometimes unavoidable,” Social Welfare Officer of Valenzuela City’s Social Welfare Department, Jessabelle Reyes shares, “security and order within the camp has been a challenge because we didn’t have enough staff for the post.”

“Move Up Project has given us knowledge on Camp Coordination and Camp Management, on what it is and its purpose,” Jessa continues, “we also learned how to plan for contingencies and really understand what do people really need in evacuations sites. We also have to prepare the community for the coming disasters and have some mitigation in our programs, so that we will not have to be just reactive on emergency situations.”

Aside from promoting the Alternative Temporary Shelter (ATS) in their barangay by letting them come up with their own designs and plans, and make them resilient on their own while waiting for further assistance from the city government, Jessa and her team saw the importance of having a child and women-friendly space within the evacuation site. She thought that putting up ATS during an evacuation was enough, until they saw the benefits of their child-friendly space program.

“We had our daycare workers to conduct a simple program for the kids, so that they wouldn’t just be running around in evacuation areas,” Jessa shares their experience from a recent fire incident in the city, “at the time when the kids were participating in our programs, you could see that it lets them take their mind off from the panic, trauma, and stress from the disaster. And it is not just all play in the programs we had in our child-friendly spaces, they also got to learn some things because we conduct some lessons too.”

But it was not that easy to bring the kids in their programs at first, “the program is really new and the kids thought that we might just be talking to them,” Jessa explains, “but when we told them that we will have some parlor games and some prizes for them, they quickly joined. The parents were happy to see their children to be active and happy.”

Jessa hopes its city to have its own evacuation centers and to avoid using schools and covered courts. But more than that, she also hopes that every evacuation centers would have its own child-friendly spaces, “this protects our children from harm, we get to give them lessons and continue their schooling somehow, and it would be a big help for parents who needs to go to work. We will be there to watch over their children,” Jessa adds.

“I also want more people to be more aware and prepared before disaster hits our city,” Jessa says, “we want them to be empowered, not just the local government or the barangay. I want every family and every household to be ready, and that’s how we become resilient.”