Community Transformation through Children

During any disaster, Children and youth are the most vulnerable. However, they have their own potential and perspective to reduce the risk of disasters in the community.

Pulliyur is a remote village in Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu, which was severely affected during 2015 Tamil Nadu floods. With a population of 1162 people, 249 belonged to the Dalits section. Caritas India provided humanitarian assistance to 333 families during the flood.

Udhayam (Dawn) is an Eco-System Based Disaster Risk Reduction program launched in Tamil Nadu to mobilise community into groups to focus on environmental factors that lead to the emergence of disasters and try to prevent it by promoting, restoring and conserving ecosystems and natural resources.

Since children are the most important change agent just like other community members, their participation and contribution towards disaster risk reduction is very crucial. Children’s Parliament gives children that opportunity to voice their ideas, thoughts and feelings so that their opinions can be heard and included in the socio-political landscape. Moreover, it gives them the platform to create a movement of their own to fight for their rights. It is a step towards making children more active and responsible citizens who are vigilant towards their rights and security.

Disaster Risk Reduction awareness was given to members of Pulliyur through PRA tools by the field worker of Chengallpattu Rural Development Society. Self-help groups, Children’s Parliament, youths were the targeted groups for this awareness programmes.

Children’s parliament that was formed provided the children with enough space to discuss various issues and problems not only of their village but of global environment.

Children parliament groups of Puliyur village namely Iyarkay (Nature) and Thulir (young leaf) were given awareness programmes on Health and Sanitation. They were facilitated to assess the number of toilets available in the community, a rapid assessment tool was given to the Children to find out the households having toilet facilities and not having this facilities.

The survey conducted by the children parliament observed that 20 households had adequate toilet facilities while 40 houses got toilets sanctioned by the government. However, 189 households didn’t have toilet facilities and were not aware of health and sanitation issues. The work of the children in the community was highly appreciated by the heads of the village. Apart from this children were motivated to save Rs. 5 every week to address their educational and health issues in the community especially the neediest children.

By listening to the children’s views and giving them a platform to participate in disaster risk activities, their capacities are being acknowledged while it also inspires them as well as other stakeholders to support them and use their help towards a better and a resilient community. And the children of Puliyur village is definitely inspires all of us.