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Participation as a tool for building resilience in children and young people in disaster situations
1  Universitat Oberta de Catalunya


Disasters are becoming increasingly common and complex, not just because of their causes, normally a complex combination of natural, social and cultural factors, but also because of the quantity and diversity of players and strategies that must be involved and coordinated in order to cope with them. To this must be added the diversity of reactions and behaviours by the populations affected by the disaster (driven by social class, age, gender, race, etc.) and the effect that disasters have on the culture(s) of the various groups affected. However, legal frameworks and emergency plans tend to homogenize the population and overlook the distinctive features of the various groups and individuals affected. This is particularly so in the case of children and young people. They are one of the most severely affected groups in a disaster situation and, in part, this is because their voice and agency are systematically ignored. This paper will provide arguments for a transformation in children’s roles in disaster, evidence for the effectiveness of their input into decision-making and some practical steps (a framework) to assist policy makers and practitioners create more participatory and child centred ways of working in disasters. Drawing on our work in the project CUIDAR: Cultures of Disaster Resilience Among Children and Young People, funded by the EU H2020 Secure Societies Programme, 2015 – 2018, we will show how such policy change benefits at risk communities as a whole.

Keywords: resilience, participation, children and young people, disaster risk reduction