By QUIMBERLYN RANCHEZ
ITOGON, Benguet — Indigenous children here serve as “little doctors and nurses” in their municipality as they take part in building a resilient community. Through the UNICEF and Disaster Risk Reduction: A Child-Centered Approach, Phase II, the children, as young as they are, are seen as game changers in reducing risk in their localities.
The UNICEF and Disaster Risk Reduction: A Child-Centered Approach, Phase II is an on-going two-year joint project of the Cordillera Disaster Response & Development Services (CorDisRDS) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that aims to develop a holistic and multi-sector approach to disaster risk reduction that will involve the integration of health, nutrition, child protection, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the development of community and municipal prevention, response and preparedness initiatives to prepare and respond to disasters, here in Itogon.
Located in the mountains of Benguet Province in the Cordillera Region, Itogon has since the 1900s hosted large mining companies. The massive mining processes denuded the mountains and polluted the rivers thus, setting the communities in these areas at higher risk to hazards. With the given situation, the UNICEF chose to focus its project in Itogon, and believed that children in the municipality can hold the key to the community’s resiliency.
“Children have the potential to contribute to the resiliency of their communities if given the correct training and tools. “ These are the perspectives of the initiators of the program, according to Gemma Canyas, Municipal Organizer of CorDIsRDS.
Starting in October 2016, activities under the DRRM program, are being conducted at three levels: schools, community at large, barangay and at the municipal or town level. These activities include DRR related activities for children, teachers, youth, barangay officials, and volunteers.
Students and out of school youth in Itogon were geared with advance training on emergency response. These “little doctors and nurses” were trained to conduct Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and splinting. Through the Emergency Responder Course Training, under the program, children, now, know how to do first-aid and can apply their training in mass triages, where actual accident scenarios are summoned.
“Dahil sa mga trainings, mas aware na ngayon yung mga bata sa paghanda sa mga disaster. Mas informed na sila kung ano ang gagawin kapag may mga paparating na sakuna,” Chrisitne Puguon, School Principal of Gumatdang Elementary School, Itogon, Benguet, said.
During earthquake drills, students, who have already undergone the DRRM trainings, already know what to do, and can apply what they have learned when faced by different accident and disastrous scenarios, as what Puguon narrated.
The children also plotted a risk map, where risks and hazards that they experienced are located, which helped point out the risks and hazards in the barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Plan.
“Sa ating matatanda, pag sinabi mong experience of hazards, ang iisipin natin agad ay typhoon at landslide. Sa kanilang mga bata, ang hazardous para sa kanila ay yung mga aso na tumatahol at humahabol pag nadadaanan nila mula bahay hanggang school pati yung mga madudulas na daan,” Canyas narrated. The integration of children in the DRRM plan gave new perspective on hazards and risks. Children see hazards and risks differently compared to how adults see what hazards are.
With the implementation of the program, she said that teachers were already aware of the importance of including the students in DRRM planning in their schools. She also emphasized that the implementation of the program indirectly builds rapport and coordination between the school and the community because the school and the barangay in Itogon work together on the DRRM activities.
“Maganda yung project. Sana ma-extend nila at sana maibigay din nila sa ibang schools dito sa Benguet kasi hindi lang mga bata natututo, pati mga teachers,” Puguon said.
According to CordisRDS, the capacity building trainings conducted under the program resulted to the formulation and review of Baranggay contingency plans, Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Plan, and Schools Disaster Risk Reduction Management Plan in different parts of Itogon, Benguet.# nordis.net