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Disaster Risk Reduction

Child Protection Units (CPUs) in Sindh are Preparing Children for Disasters                             

By Amir Murtaza, Pakistsan Correspondent for Safeworld

Strengthening Child Protection at the Local Level

The new millennium began in Pakistan with an unending series of natural and man-made disasters.

Be it the catastrophic earthquake of 2005 or the insurgency in certain parts of country, all had resulted in a massive loss of lives and property, with women and children as the largest group to suffer. Since 2010, incessant rains and resultant floods have played havoc in vast areas of country, especially along the major river tributaries.

This year, heavy monsoon rains and subsequent floods have devastated the population in areas of Punjab, upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Kashmir. Tthe Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecasted that it anticipated more rain in many parts of the country, including in the Sindh province.

Due to unstable weather conditions and significant monsoon rains, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has announced flood warning for six districts in Sindh province.

Disaster Risk Reduction 2While realizing the importance of protection issues during the monsoon rains and flood, for children, the child protection units (CPUs) in Sindh have started organizing awareness sessions, based on specially designed awareness and disaster risk reduction material on “Precautions During the Rains & Flood”.

The said material has been developed and supported by UK AID, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and UNICEF.

It is significant to mention that Social Welfare Department (SWD) Sindh has established 12 child protection units (CPUs) in the province including one each in Karachi, Hyderabad, TM Khan, Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki, Kashmore, Shikarpur, and Jacobabad. These child protection units (CPUs) have been established with the support of UNICEF.

The establishment of the child protection units (CPUs) in different parts of the province is part of the mechanism intended to strengthen the child protection system at local level.

Child protection units (CPUs) offer support to children, victims of abuse, violence or neglect, and provide help through a referral network of service providers, comprising both government departments and non-government organizations. Child protection units (CPUs) also disseminate information, raise awareness and mobilize community members, including children, on the rights of children and their families in general and on issues of child protection in particular.

Emergency response is another component of CPUs mainly focusing on registration of separated, unaccompanied, missing children, and those who are at risk of abuse, exploitation, violence, and social exclusion.

Equipping Children with Crucial Information Before a Disaster

Disaster Risk Reduction 3Recently the staff of child protection units (CPUs) in Karachi, Sukkur, Khairpur and Hyderabad organized awareness sessions on “Precautions during the Rains & Flood” in vulnerable areas.

A large number of children, and community members, took part in these sessions.

Remember Parents' Names, Address, and Phone Numbers

Disaster Risk Reduction 5The primary purpose of the sessions was to equip the children with necessary information to minimize the adverse impact of rains and flood.

In these sessions, it was informed that during emergency children should remember the names of their parents, address and contact numbers and also, it was informed that in case of displacement and separation from the family such information plays an important role in family reunification.

Keep Important Documents Together

Disaster Risk Reduction 4The sessions also informed the participants that before flood they should keep their important documents, such as national identity card, birth registration certificate and education certificates, in a plastic envelope at any safe place.
So, in heavy rains or flood-like situations, they have their important documents safe and secure.  

Use Clean & Boiled Water

The awareness sessions also highlighted the importance of clean and boiled water during the flood situation and participants were informed that trees help minimize the damages of flood.

Furthermore, the sessions elaborated various precautionary measures helpful to minimize the damages of rains and flood.

'Can We Swim with the Help of Big Pots?'

It is important to note that children have taken keen interest in these sessions, organized in Karachi, Sukkur, Khairpur and Hyderabad, and raised pertinent questions related to disaster preparedness.

During the sessions children raised several questions, some of them included:

Can we swim with the help of big pots?

Can we play in flood water?

How can we protect our animals?

How do we avoid electric shock/currents?

Children have a right to information, especially in disaster-prone areas, about ways and means not only to protect themselves but also their families and commutates. Children are half of our population and full of our future – their talents should be tapped to transform our country into a better and safer place to live in.


About the Author: Amir Murtaza is a senior researcher, analyst and writer on social development issues, especially pertaining to women, youth and children. He can be approached at

Follow Amir on Twitter: @AmirMurtaza1


 

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