Risk reduction and risk education

In situations of conflict and natural disaster, children can be put at risk of danger and injury from rivers and floodwater, unstable debris or explosive remnants of war (ERW) and landmines, as well as risks from road traffic or other injuries.

When should we use Risk Reduction and Risk Education?

  • Where children are living in a dangerous physical environment or there is a continued risk of recurrence of natural disaster or conflict
  • In situations of displacement where children and families face unfamiliar risks
  • When children and families lack awareness of ways to protect themselves from these risks

How to start a Risk Reduction and Education programme:

1. Identify risks

  • Collect information on physical dangers to children in this location
  • Risks may include:
    • Unintentional injury – drowning (rivers, lakes, oceans, wells, pit latrines), falling (cliffs, trees, pits, trenches), burning (fire, cooking oil, boiling water, electrocution), road traffic, wild animals (snake bites), sharp objects (knives, barbed wire), exposure to garbage containing infectious waste
    • In disaster zones – damaged infrastructure (roofs and walls collapsing, exposed electrical and barbed wire, rubble) and drowning (floods, landslides)
    • In conflict areas – using explosive weapons and contamination by explosive remnants of war (e.g. landmines, cluster munitions, mortars, shells, grenades, cartridges, ammunition), collapsed infrastructure, and the widespread availability of guns or other weapons
  • Involve children and young people in mapping and assessing risks e.g. through community mapping – ask children or young people to draw a map of the local area and mark areas where there are risk, and then discuss these with them
  • Together identify the top 5 physical dangers for girls and boys of different ages

2. Response

Work together with the community to identify actions to respond to the most serious risks identified. This might include:

  • Community activities:
    • Spreading community and public awareness messages on risks and prevention measures
    • Running community safety drills for children
    • Community clean-up programmes
    • Building fences and bridges
    • Making sure that wells and pits have safety mechanisms
    • Making sure there is enough lighting at night
    • Raising awareness of and marking out areas known to be contaminated with ERW

Involving children and young people as leaders in designing and implementing these activities builds their self-esteem and gives them a sense of control in these situations of insecurity.

  • Information sessions or activities in schools:
    • Schools and after-school activities provide opporunities to discuss and share self-protection information with a large number of children. It’s also important to look for ways to reach out-of-school children who may be more vulnerable to risk.
  • Case management and referral:
    • Ensure that serious physical injury and disability are included in criteria for case management services and that referral pathways are in place so that injury survivors, including children with disabilities, are able to access support services
  • Create safe community spaces, playgrounds and recreation areas for children and youth (see child friendly spaces)
  • Advocate for increased safety of children with the most important stakeholders and for making clearing of landmines and ERW a priority in places where children go often and carry out mine risk education in contaminated areas

Children with disabilities can be at increased risk of physical injury and it is important to include their specific needs in risk assessment and programming.

Monitoring and evaluation

Sample indicators:

Outcomes/impact

  • Percentage of children, youth and community members surveyed who have knowledge of dangers and safe behaviour to prevent unintentional injury to children
  • Interventions to mitigate the top five physical dangers to girls and boys of different ages are in place
  • Change in number of children in community affected by unintentional injuries

Additional tools and guidelines

This page is primarily based on information from the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (Standard 7: Dangers and Injuries)

A detailed step-by-step guide to setting up a child-centred disaster risk reduction programme from Plan International is available here: Plan International, Child-Centred DRR toolkit

Additional tools and resources are available here


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