Kathmandu, September 18

The two-day high-level policy dialogue on Child-Centered Disaster Risk Reduction in South Asia organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Disaster Management Centre of the South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation concluded today.

Speaking at a press meet here today, Prof Santosh Kumar, head, SAARC Disaster Management Centre, said the high-level dialogue identified  four priority areas namely identifying risks to children and its mitigation, investment in risk management, recovery and investment in reconstruction to build back better.

He said that the Disaster Management Centre will be coordinating with the SAARC countries to achieve the goals set by SAARC member countries.

Speaking at the programme, Philippe Cori, deputy regional director for UNICEF in South Asia said, “Child-centred disaster risk reduction is a long-term investment. Raising awareness of children and youth on disaster risk will ensure better disaster-prepared generations across this region and contribute to saving and improving many lives.”

Radhika Aryal, joint secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said the disaster focal authorities from SAARC countries expressed their views and commitment to SARRC Regional Policy Framework on Child Centred Disaster Risk Reduction today.

She said after the commitment from SAARC countries, the framework will be revised and endorsed at the regional level.

According to UNICEF, over the past decade, South Asia has faced more than 350 disaster events annually, affecting 264 million people per year and costing the region an average annual loss of about 109 billion US dollars. More than 60 percent of those killed or affected are children and although disasters affect all, children are disproportionately vulnerable to its risks.

In 2015 alone more than one million children were severely affected by the April 25 earthquake in Nepal.

UNICEF further said that the situation is further exacerbated by poverty, rapid urbanization, and socio-economic challenges in the region. Without proper interventions, millions of children in South Asia will remain at risk of malnutrition, psychological trauma, disrupted education and violence.