Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Disasters in Myanmar, Chile and Peru and children

It has been a devastating week - a cyclone in Myanmar; a volcanic eruption in Southern Chile and flooding in Northern Peru. As the pictures unfold, the site of school aged children wandering the streets of Yangon, boarding an evacuation ship in Chile or stringed across a swollen river In Peru paints a haunting situation. Already two schools in Peru have been destroyed. Schools in the affected areas in Chile have been abandoned and it is difficult to tell how many schools in the Myanmar have been destroyed or disrupted. Five states have been declared disaster areas there. The images are chilling and the need for help overwhelming. The disruption of communication and transport again puts the spotlight on local communities and their roles in emergency and disaster management. Autonomous communities tend to respond faster in emergency situations and are better able to manage the aftermath and defer the progression into a disaster situation. The socioeconomic conditions of residents did contribute to the impact of the disaster event - the limited resources available to deal with mitigation and preparedness; the poor quality of infrastructure and the reduced resilience as a result. Then there are the children and their education who become lost in the move towards normalcy and the kinds of responses that allow for adjustments to the changes inflicted as a result of these disaster events. They will need makeshift, temporary schools, teacher and learning materials. What about students who are in their final year of schooling? What about their examinations? How will they perform on these? What about their books and other curriculum related materials?What has happens to them? School uniforms, etc? What about their parents and how they fared in these disaster events? How soon will these children lives return to normal? After all education is part of their normal. Education in emergencies is essential because schools are central to the lives of children and it symbolizes a return to normal

No comments: