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From the calamity-stricken province of Surigao del Norte, World Vision sponsored child Arnel Alipao, 17, waded through waist-deep floodwaters and crossed barangays on a make-shift raft just to get to dry land in time to fly out to New York.
Among over 112, 000 World Vision sponsored children nationwide, Arnel was chosen to represent the Philippines to talk about Child-Focused Disaster Risk Reduction (CFDRR) at the Informal Thematic Debate of the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly on February 9, 2011. He will be representing the Philippines in the discussion, “Taking Collective Action in Disaster Risk Reduction for Good Governance – Investing in Our Children’s Future". Other Philippine representatives include Senator Teofisto Guingona III, who co-authored the Disaster Risk Reduction bill (which passed into law last year) and Filomena Portales, World Vision Advocacy and Communications Director.
Student leader Arnel poses for the camera ready to represent the Philippines to global leaders in New York on February 9th.
Unprecedented monsoon rains brought by La Nina, have triggered floods, affecting more than 38, 337 families in the Surigao del Norte province. Currently, World Vision is responding to 1404 affected families through food aid distribution. “I believe the major reason for disaster is the global climate change. Unfortunately, illegal logging and mining have also been rampant in our place,” laments Arnel.
As a relief and emergency organization, World Vision introduced the child-focused disaster risk reduction with the participation of different sectors from Arnel’s community. It allows the children, elders, and other sectors of the community to get involved in taking concrete actions for the safety of children. All sectors including children are encouraged to identify the risks that they see in the community and identify specific actions to reduce or eliminate risks. “The child-focused DRR gives children a clear picture and understanding about our vulnerability and risk before, during, and after disaster strikes,” says Arnel.
Through awareness campaigns such as leafleting disaster preparation flyers, tree planting, and clean-up activities, the young volunteers are adamant about creating change against climate change. Though their province was hit hard by the recent storms, families and children were grateful for the efforts of the children who were more prepared and knowledgeable of what they need to do when the disaster strikes. “As a youth, I am determined to continue advocating environmental protection to stamp out the harmful activities that would destroy our environment,” adds Arnel.
As a freshman college student who’s taking up a degree in Electrical Engineering, Arnel hopes to lobby change through his presentation by emphasizing the need for schools to adapt and implement child-focused disaster risk reduction in their own curriculums. “This can be done. It’s not yet too late. After all, more generations will inherit the earth.” says Arnel.
UPDATE from Filomena Portales, World Vision Advocacy and Communications Director: Arnel Alipao together w/ Sen Guingona were able to mainstream children's participation in UN systems policy programming priority funding. Outcome of discussion will be an input in the UN global platform in GRR this May in Geneva.
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