寄付・募金・ボランティアのセーブ・ザ・チルドレン・ジャパン

Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami Emergency response and recovery program

Children’s Voices on the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction -The 2nd Workshop on “Our Voices on Global Disaster Risk Reduction” Vol.1 (April 9, 2014)

Regional Children’s Consultation for the 6th Asia Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) was held in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture on March 30 and 31, 2014. The meeting was attended by a total of 37 elementary to high school students from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. In this two-day workshop, children from the Tohoku area shared their experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake and discussed how to improve disaster risk reduction on a global scale to be reflected in their voices at the 6th AMCDRR. This is a report of the workshop.

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– Convey the children’s message to the world! “We may be from different places, but we share the same passion –

The children varied in age from 5th graders to high school seniors and most had never met one another before, so we all played an icebreaker game to introduce ourselves. This was followed by presentations of the work by Save the Children and the Children’s Community Building Clubs. Then activity reports were given from the children’s representatives of the World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction (July, 2012), the 5th AMCDRR (October, 2012), and the 4th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (May, 2013). Finally, all the participants confirmed their schedules for the next 10 months until the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai City on March, 2015, where a new global action plan for disaster reduction will be developed.

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After the formalities above, discussions began with the children talking about the “impact of the disaster on children” based upon their own experiences of the earthquake and tsunami. Throughout the discussions, children focused on six main topics of interest: places that provide us sense of belonging, children’s voices, children’s health, disaster risk reduction education, mental health care, and access to information. Children formed groups based on these topics and discussed countermeasures that have been or have not yet been taken to minimize the impact of disasters on children. The voices from the participants are as follows:

“I could share my experiences with other children, which made it easier for me to open up.” (6th Grader, Female, Miyagi Prefecture)

“It was such a fun experience for me to talk to other children who also take these issues seriously, since I have never had opportunities to frankly express my opinions before.” (9th Grader, Female, Miyagi Prefecture)

“I could even talk about the things that I have never shared with my friends before with other participants who shared my same passion.” (6th Grader, Female, Miyagi Prefecture)

“The disaster is still not yet over. Hearing stories from other children in other affected areas made me realize that we still have a lot of problems.” (9th Grader, Male, Fukushima Prefecture)

“Opinions may vary depending on where you are from, but we all share the same passion to make things better.” (High School Junior, Male, Miyagi Prefecture)

It seemed that this workshop provided the children with an opportunity to openly talk about their opinions and feelings that they have not been able to share with anyone before. Also, while sharing similar experiences, the participants realized that they share the same passion to improve future disaster reduction.

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– Children’s Ideas to Improve Disaster Risk Reduction on a Global Scale –

On the second day of the workshop, children discussed “what would you do if you were Prime Minister?” based on the discussions from the previous day, and then made presentations.

The group with the theme “places that provide us a sense of belonging” said, “We will create parks on high ground so that it is easier for children to evacuate when tsunamis strike. The parks should provide various play equipment and should have an abundance of nature. It would be great if all children in a park play together and have a good time.” (6th Grader, Female, Miyagi Prefecture)

The group with the theme “disaster risk reduction education” said, “We will establish a world children’s organization on disaster risk reduction since there are a few opportunities for us to speak out and be taken seriously. We believe that we can encourage and protect other children by taking action on our own. There are many things that only children can share and do together. It is easier for us to sympathize with each other. If all the children who have gone through various disasters in the world unite our efforts with one accord, we can broaden our outlook and prepare ourselves to have more flexible and quick action with disaster prevention measures to disasters from our own experience.” (High School Junior, Female, Iwate Prefecture)

They presented such unique ideas as if they were the Prime Minister based on their own experiences.

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– Video and a Handprint Banner as a Token of Achievement from this Workshop –

At the end of the workshop, the children summarized the thoughts and ideas they had come up with through the discussions. They talked about “what we can do as a children” and wrote down their opinions on cubes and exchanged them.

Then they created a video, each member holding up a piece of paper stating “things I can do.” Each member carefully picked what to write in order to convey his or her message.

They also created handprinted banners by writing down “what I would do if I were Prime Minister” on members’ handprints. Those handprints varied in color and size, but all shared the same passion for better disaster risk reduction. The video and handprints banner will be brought to the 6th AMCDRR by the representatives for all the world to see!

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– Election of Representatives from the Children by the Children –

Finally, representatives for the 6th AMCRDD were selected. Each candidate presented his or her thoughts, after which three representatives were elected by the children (one per prefecture).

After two days of intense discussion, the children seemed to have realized the importance of speaking out, which can be seen in their following comments:

“We get support by conveying our messages. Getting support gives us confidence. Being confident makes us speak out more.” (6th Grader, Female, Iwate Prefecture)

“Talking to those who have different opinions from mine made me want to talk to them more.” (7th Grader, Female, Iwate Prefecture)

“I was most grateful to get to know the opinions of those who are not only from Fukushima. I was also glad to hear about countermeasures against tsunamis. I would like to talk to more people!” (High School Senior, Female, Fukushima Prefecture)

“The opportunity was given to us to get to know other children, and I wanted to take advantage of it. I believe it is important to talk, listen to, and utilize other people’s opinions.” (High School Junior, Female, Iwate Prefecture)

 

We will post the video from the workshop soon so you can see how the children from three prefectures in the Tohoku area passionately discussed the ways to make their voices on disaster risk reduction heard on a global scale and to make our societies better.