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 of Rikuzentakata exchange opinions with Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction (November 12, 2013)

Save the Children Japan (SCJ) provides many opportunities for the participation of children so that they can raise their voices, be heard and become actively involved in the decisions that affect their own lives. On October 29, 2013, children from Rikuzentakata exchanged opinions with Ms. Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. This followed on from discussions held between Ms. Wahlström and children from Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures (PDF) last year in July, and with children from Fukushima Prefecture this year in February.




http://youtu.be/0CggWxwTEkY

 

■ Disseminating opinions about disaster risk reduction around the world based upon their own experiences ■
This exchange of opinions was made possible in cooperation with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Office in Japan. When UNISDR was preparing for the visit of Ms. Wahlström to areas affected by the earthquake in Iwate Prefecture, she shared her wish by saying, “I would like to meet again with the children I spoke to at the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in May this year.” This led to the dialogue between five high school members of the Rikuzentakata Children’s Community Building Club and Ms. Wahlström.

 

Children met Margareta

In the preparation meeting the students were very excited, saying, “This is a rare opportunity!” One student had organized her thoughts in advance using a visual representation of concepts and their connections called a “mind map.”

After self-introductions the children gave a presentation on their opinions. 

“When I was little, I was educated about disaster risk reduction based on information that was not very accurate. Then the earthquake struck. I had previously heard on the news that a large tsunami would one day strike Tokyo and Nagoya. And recently there have been big landslides in Japan that have killed many people. However, many lives will be saved if people understand the importance of DRR education.”

“In places distant from the areas greatly affected by the disaster, the spread of information about the earthquake has already decreased. I think the failure of such information to reach other areas of Japan far away from us will hinder an appropriate response when a similar earthquake occurs in the future. Therefore, I would like to ensure that this earthquake does not fade from people’s memory through creating places, like with this occasion today, where we can disseminate information about the disaster.”

 

These thoughts from the children sounded alarm bells about the current state of disaster preparedness in Japan since the Great East Japan Earthquake. They continued:

“When I participated in the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, I learned from an 11-year-old Vietnamese boy in a wheelchair about the importance of discussing disaster risk reduction with those who have disabilities and their families. I think we should increase opportunities for children, adults, people with disabilities and others to come together to think and talk about disaster risk reduction in the future.”

The students, speaking from their own experiences and knowledge, said that it is important for many more people to become involved in efforts towards disaster risk reduction.

“The statistics about the probability of earthquakes in various places around Japan since the earthquake on March 11 show many changes. When it comes to creating new evacuation plans based on these statistics, I think it is very important to take into account not only the sound knowledge of experts, but also the past experiences of people living in towns that have been exposed to the threat of disasters. I hope that there is an increase in the number of opportunities to talk like this, with residents and government coming together.”

 

Children had a discussion on DRR

The children talked frankly about what they felt at the time of the earthquake.

“When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, I was in school and felt very anxious. I know it was difficult even for teachers to explain what was going on, but I wanted to hear at least a few words from them, such as, ‘It’s all right.’ ”

In the dialogue, Ms. Wahlström asked the children, “Do you have any concrete ideas about how best to provide education on disaster risk reduction?” In response, the children spoke of various ideas from their individual perspectives based on their own experiences.

“I think it is important to study the science and mechanics of tsunamis then prepare concrete evacuation methods, such as, ‘we have to run away to this point as the waves could be very high in this area.’ ”

“Of course, what is taught to us by our teachers is important. However, I also think it is important to provide opportunities for students to be able to discuss disaster risk reduction themselves after being taught by teachers.”

“There are many elderly people and people with disabilities who will be unable to protect themselves even with increased education about disaster risk reduction. Therefore, although individual study is important, I think it is necessary to discuss this topic with other people at a regional and community level. Then we can formulate plans to help those in the community who may be unable to help themselves during a disaster. I would like to discuss today how this can be achieved.”

“The name itself, ‘disaster risk reduction’ uses very formal language. I suspect many people hearing this name will think that this is a very difficult topic. Therefore, I think a good idea is to learn about this topic with a sense of fun.”

At the end of this event the children made several additional comments.

“I am very glad we were able to speak about what we wanted to communicate with Ms. Wahlström!”

“It was great to be able to meet Ms. Wahlström for a second time! I hope to keep building upon relationships like this in the future.”

■ Continuing to speak out about regional reconstruction and global disaster risk reduction in the future ■

In 2015, the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be organized by UNISDR in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. At this conference, an international action plan to protect lives from disasters will be formulated as a successor framework building on the Hyogo Framework for Action. Save the Children will continue to cooperate with organizations like UNISDR and work together with children so that children themselves are able to speak out and participate toward regional reconstruction and global disaster risk reduction and prevention in the future. We would like to thank everyone involved and ask that they continue with their support of and cooperation with children who are working towards the future while still facing the realities of the Great East Japan Earthquake.