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Legarda Stresses Vulnerability of Children to Disasters and Climate Change

December 22, 2011

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA TODAY STRESSED THE VULNERABILITY OF CHILDREN TO CLIMATE CHANGE, PARTICULARLY WHEN NATURAL HAZARDS STRIKE, NOTING THAT MORE THAN 40,000 CHILDREN WERE AFFECTED BY TROPICAL STORM SENDONG (WASHI) THAT HIT NORTHERN AND WESTERN MINDANAO LAST WEEK.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that while the number of children among casualties and missing persons remains unknown, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that Tropical Storm Sendong affected around 43,000 children-14,000 of which are now living in evacuation centers.
“Every time a disaster occurs, the impact on children is more likely to be greater because aside from being unable to immediately respond to natural hazards, they are also vulnerable to the aftermath of disasters, including the outbreak of diseases, lack of food, potable water and shelter,” she pointed out.
Legarda cited a 2011 UNICEF Study which found out that children in the Philippines are at risk from heavier rains and increased flooding brought about by climate change. Due to their physical make-up, children are less able to adapt to climate-related changes and therefore, are more likely to contract diseases or be injured or killed during disasters.
She said that 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.
In this light, the Senator called on the government to strengthen current mechanisms to protect children against disasters and to recognize the vital role of the youth in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts.
“Schools are critical public infrastructures that serve as second home to our children and emergency refuge in times of disaster. Aside from ensuring safe physical structure, schools must have disaster preparedness and contingency plans so that students will survive and continue their schooling in the aftermath of disasters,” she said.
Legarda added that homes, hospitals, roads, bridges and other infrastructure must be safe and secure amidst natural hazards. Likewise, there should be greater effort in the prevention and control of climate-related diseases.
“As we build safe communities that would shield our children from the impact of disasters and climate change, we also have to inculcate in them a level of disaster preparedness so that they are always ready when hazards strike. If we make our nation disaster-resilient, we not only protect our young people, but also invest in our country’s future,” Legarda concluded.