Keeping children in the Pacific safe in emergencies

By Christine Mougne, Regional Emergency Specialist, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific
UNICEF Pacific colleagues have come up with a creative and pragmatic approach to “Keeping families and children safe in emergencies” for use in Fiji. This multimedia package was developed by Fiji’s Ministry of Health and National Disaster Management Office with technical support from UNICEF Pacific with AusAID funding following the devastating floods and landslides of January 2012.Disaster Risk Reduction is gaining more and more ground as international – and local – communities alike, recognise the good sense of preparedness, as the frequency of disasters appears to be on the increase in many parts of the world.

The package focused on 10 key lifesaving messages:
1. Know where your family members are at all times
2. Get your children immunized
3. Don’t leave anybody behind
4. Keep your family fed as best you can but don’t eat spoiled food
5. Boil all drinking water
6. Dispose of waste safely
7. Seek medical attention for diarrhoea, high fevers or unusual body pains
8. Help your children feel safe and loved
9. Get your children back to school and into a routine as soon as possible
10. Work together and help your community recover

These messages encapsulate key practices identified by the respective Protection, WASH, Education, Health and Nutrition clusters in their work in Fiji and to gether address the fundamental actions needed to keep loved ones safe in an emergency.

In addition to the website the multimedia package includes a guideline for interpersonal communication, a Facebook quiz, 10 radio and TV spots, a comprehensive and colourful poster-calendar, a pocket guide and 10 SMS messages!  All materials are available in English, I-Taukei and Hindi.

In April, the official launch of the “Get Ready, Disasters Happen” campaign will be held as well as a training of trainers in preparation for the rolling out of key messages in second and third quarters in preparation for the next cyclone season (November – April).

In the meantime, the team is focusing on data collection with respect to key indicators at community level to provide baseline data against which to measure the effectiveness of the campaign later in the year.

Thanks to colleagues in the Pacific for sharing their innovative approach which can be readily adapted in other disaster prone areas.  We wish them every success in keeping families and children safe through the months to come!

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