Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Haiti’s Children And Young People Share Their Views on Their Country’s Future

As part of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment conducted by the Government of Haiti with support from the UN, World Bank, EU and numerous agencies, Plan International supported a consultation with 1000 children and young people on their views and expectations for the future of their country.

The findings are shared in the report ‘Anticipating the Future: Children and young people’s voices in Haiti’s Post-Disaster Needs Assessment’ (PDNA), launched on 30 March 2010 at the Haiti Fit for Children event, held one day prior to the UN high level donor meeting on Haiti.

The PDNA process in Haiti was highly criticised by CSOs as not being a participatory process which ensured the views of all stakeholders affected by the disaster. Participation in PDNAs must include that of children as well, who are one of the groups most disproportionally affected by disasters – given the longer term impact of disasters on children’s right to survival, development and protection.

Experience from the Asia Tsunami in 2005 and Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh in 2007 have shown that children and young people can play an important role in assessing the impact of disasters in terms of damages, losses and indirect effects; as well as identifying priority areas and opportunities for change to foster the humanitarian principle of “building back better”.

During a period of two weeks in late February and early March, Plan facilitated 54 focus groups across Haiti, where children and young people of different age groups (from 5 to 24 years) had the opportunity to discuss the impact of the earthquake on their individual lives, and what they needed most in the recovery process; and to share their hopes and dreams for the future of their country. Results from the children-centred PDNA show that in the long-term, children are enthusiastic to be involved in the rebuilding of their country, and want to take part in the work being set out towards a prosperous future for Haiti.

In the immediate future, the focus groups revealed that children want to get back to school as soon as possible, and also to be better prepared to face future risks (like floods, landslides and other aftershocks). Fifteen-year-old quake survivor Yvenie Pierre said, “I wish that schools will start again where there will be good education, where children learn in safety and can study without fear."

A prosperous future for Haiti means children must have better access to safe schools and quality education. Traditionally, children and young people are excluded from decision-making processes in Haiti, yet half of its population is below the age of 18. It is imperative that the country’s development includes positive transformations in children’s lives especially their opportunity to partake in decisions being made about a future which is theirs.

The official PDNA findings set the price for reconstruction at $11.5 billion dollars – and Plan believes that Haiti’s children and young people should have a say in how this money is used, monitored and accounted for. Plan Haiti’s PDNA lead, Johnny Altime, says “the reconstruction process needs to address the priorities voiced by children if it is to realise long-term benefits.” Children and young people in Haiti are ready to learn and take part in making theirs a better future.

Plan International has also contributed to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts through the provision of food and shelter, water and sanitation and health supplies; and efforts to ensure the protection and well being of children through psychosocial support, education in emergency and awareness raising to prevent child trafficking, gender-based violence and other risks.

Source: PreventionWeb

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