When an emergency hits, be it a natural disaster or protracted conflict situation, children are often the most seriously affected. Today, one in every 200 children in the world is a refugee. Children in emergencies can be exposed to violence, separated from family, or recruited into armed groups, and are at greater risk of exploitation and abuse. Many children affected by conflict and disaster also miss out on school, and may struggle to cope with their experiences.
Disaster makes children increasingly vulnerable as childcare and safeguarding structures such as schools, clubs, community and family routines are destroyed. Yet emergency responses are often so broad that child protection needs can be neglected or ineffective. Viva builds capacity of local faith based organisations and churches to be prepared and able to respond if disaster strikes. We also support international relief agencies by bringing a child-focused lens to their response and encouraging them to work in genuine and effective partnership with local faith communities, leading to interventions that target the most significant child protection needs.
Viva is seeking to transfer its experience in supporting local churches and organisations to contexts of critical need for children through a unique approach, combining practical work with local partners to support directly affected communities, whilst gathering learning to develop effective tools and resources to build the capacity of those responding to the needs of children in emergencies.
- Child protection in emergencies caused by conflict or natural disaster
Churches and local faith-based organisations are already a present and often central part of community before disaster strikes. They therefore have an in-depth understanding of the context and situation, and are known and trusted. Those seeking to support communities in crisis are therefore more effective if they are able to build on existing strong relationships of churches and faith-based organisations with their communities.
Building the capacity of these local faith communities has a significant impact as it both enables these organisations and churches to deliver high quality care and programmes for children if disaster strikes, as well as creating lasting capacity that will be useful well beyond the emergency situation.
Our emergency response programmes include:
Keeping children safe: We work alongside those responding to the emergency on the ground through needs assessments, training and mentoring, to ensure they are able to keep children safe in these difficult situations. We have developed meaningful and relevant safeguarding and child protection procedures and practices to support this.
Creating safe spaces: Where children can play and learn, receive support from trained and trusted caregivers, and be referred for further support if needed.
Meeting the most important need: Viva uses its well-established mapping and research tools with whole communities to find out the most significant needs children face in each situation, and uses this information to help local churches and organisations develop appropriate and targeted responses. Projects developed may focus on groups of children not reached by the existing emergency response, such as children involved in child labour, or very young children.
- Disaster Risk Reduction in areas of high risk of natural disaster
We are working to equip local communities to be prepared for when a disaster strikes, and know how to respond to keep children safe where possible. Our strategy works with all sectors across the city including children, families, schools, churches, community leaders, media and local authorities to share messages that can help people keep safe when disaster strikes. The programme can be broken down to meet three main objectives:
- Equip children for preparedness in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) through minicamps. As well as teaching valuable lessons, bringing children together to learn increases connectivity to build a supportive community more capable of responding to disaster. Children leave the mini-camp with a ‘survival kit’ to help them be safe during disasters and resources for their parents to share learning and discuss practical safety plans.
- Develop core youth network leadership to be DRR community and camp leaders. Youth are trained to facilitate youth-child training at the mini-camps and develop a personal and/or family preparedness plan for themselves.
- Network of collaborating organizations become DRR proficient and engage and facilitate the youth and child rights initiatives. After mapping, the network produces a comprehensive report and directory of child protection agencies in the communities to increase collaboration and strengthen community engagement with children on DRR.
You can read more about our Disaster Risk Reduction programme here.
- Tools and resources
In collaboration with Food for the Hungry, TAI and World Relief, Viva has produced a pilot online toolkit and community of practice to enhance child-focused work with local partners in emergencies. This toolkit offers simple needs assessment, programme outlines, signposting tools, case studies and stories from innovative work around the world, along with an online survey tool to help select the right programme based on need and capacity.
As we learn, we are continuing to develop tools and resources to share more widely on areas such as: Needs assessment and identifying child-focused response projects; Mainstreaming child protection into emergency response; Context-specific child protection and safeguarding guidelines and templates; Integrating child protection into emergency response through local partners; Child protection ‘training of trainers’.
Viva is also a member of the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action and part of the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action Working Group where we can link experience and learning from working with local faith communities with current best practice and learning internationally.
More on programmes:
Read about DRR programmes here
Case Study 1: Lebanon
Viva has developed a long-term, ongoing partnership with LSESD (the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development), a local Christian NGO in Lebanon. Viva has worked alongside LSESD to equip local churches with child protection skills and knowledge, and support them in developing child-focused responses as they reach out to support vulnerable Syrian communities in Lebanon and Syria.
Some examples of the impact of Viva’s partnership for children in emergencies so far in Lebanon:
- In Lebanon, 23 local churches and organisations have taken part in contextual child protection training, 3 child friendly spaces in conflict-affected areas of Syria are reaching 300 children, and 8 education projects in Lebanon are reaching more than 1000 out-of-school Syrian children
- 12 Middle-Eastern young leaders from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq took part in a pilot 3-day ‘Child Protection Champions’ training of trainers course developed by Viva, and are using this knowledge to carry out child protection training in their own organisations and communities
- A network of 90 educators from LFC-based non-formal education projects reaching more than 2,000 out-of-school Syrian children in Lebanon received capacity-building training and support every quarter
You can access Viva Children in Emergencies Toolkit here.
Case Study 2: Philippines
Following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, 16 Operation Safe trauma debriefing camps were held to care for children. In the years that have followed, our partner network continue to run disaster preparedness camps.
Case Study 3: Nepal
Following the Nepal earthquake in 2015, our partner network CarNet Nepal provided psychological first aid to help children overcome trauma.