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Legarda: Prioritize and Strengthen Gov’t Mechanisms to Protect Children from Climate Change

November 19, 2011

Senator Loren Legarda today called on the various departments of government to prioritize the needs of Filipino children in carrying out their respective duties, stressing that young citizens are even more vulnerable to various hazards and health risks because of climate change.

Legarda renewed her call as she expressed alarm over the recent study released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “Children’s Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Disaster Impacts in East Asia and the Pacific,” which revealed that climate change is expected to worsen the suffering that children in East Asia and the Pacific are already experiencing due to lack of food, potable water and proper sanitation, and their exposure to diseases.

“The release of this report from UNICEF is very timely as we are currently discussing the budget of various departments and agencies of government. This should enlighten the leaders of our nation on what to prioritize, that is, to address our children’s needs, which are now even greater due to climate change,” the Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change stressed.

She cited several instances which indicate that children are more at risk during disasters. For instance, the devastating flashflood that hit Davao City in July killed 30 individuals, of which 17 were children and infants.

Meanwhile, Typhoon Pedring in September caused the death of 83 people, 39 of which were children. It also caused the disruption of classes for almost a month, especially in affected barangays in the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan, because of the extensive damage in school equipment.

The Senator also noted that floods increase the possibility of an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as dengue, diarrhea and e-coli; while earthquakes pose greater danger if infrastructures, especially schools and hospitals, are poorly built.

“The grim images of devastation caused by disasters may cause stress to our children. We must shield them from these traumatic experiences. It is important to make our schools disaster-resilient to keep our children out of harm’s way when natural hazards strike. We must also ensure that schools in high-risk areas have disaster preparedness and contingency plans so that students will survive and continue their schooling in the aftermath of disasters,” she stressed.

“Likewise, there should be greater effort in the prevention and control of climate-related diseases. It would be best if we create an enabling environment for children to witness and practice disaster risk reduction to inculcate in them a level of disaster preparedness and to ensure that they are always ready when hazards strike,” Legarda concluded.