Vietnam: project with children at its heart wins CBA6 Solidarity Grant

The children in Hong Ca commune, Vietnam, know that practising rescue drills can save lives in the event of a real natural disaster.

Gia Van Nguyen's picture
Insight by 
Gia Van Nguyen
10 May 2012
Children with backpacks walking along a path with a building on the left and a forest and looming hills behind.

Children carry out a land slide evacuation drill in Hong Ca commune, Vietnam. Credit: Nguyen Van Gia

This is due, in no small part, to NGO Save the Children’s pioneering child-centred approach to disaster risk reduction with local schools and communities. Save the Children’s approach places children and their rights, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, at its heart.

Given that they take what they’ve learned at school home to share with their parents and siblings, they can be important communicators on how to reduce the risk of an emergency within their families and communities.

The NGO’s hard work in Hong Ca commune, Yen Bai province was recognised by participants at the 6th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change, who awarded it a US $5,000 Solidarity Grant.

The H’mong ethnic minority live in this mountainous commune in northern Vietnam. Many of the adults speak H’mong and not Vietnamese. Floods, landslides and droughts have been increasing in frequency and scale in the region, likely due to impacts of climate change, threatening the lives and livelihoods of all community members.

Children in the commune have emerged as the key agents of change within the community. They have engaged with their schools and communities on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation activities, providing a new momentum to the work. Children have taken the lead in lots of initiatives to help people identify and reduce the risk to potential disasters and build more resilience in the community to climate change.

Workshop participants taking part in a field trip to see Save the Children’s work first hand saw the children enthusiastically singing educational songs and performing dances. They also watched the children perform an award-winning role play about the need to understand climate change and disasters and ways to reduce their impact; and participated in a landslide evacuation drill. The participants also looked at the village’s water supply system and carried out discussions with community members about how prepared they really were for a disaster, and on the impact of climate change on their lives.

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Children practise bandaging a child's arm, during a first aid drill at Hong Ca school (Photo: Nguyen Van Gia)

Children at Hong Ca school plan to set up a ‘climate change solidarity garden’ with the Solidarity Grant. The kitchen garden will produce additional nutritional vegetables for the children who board at the school overnight, often because their families’ homes are located too far away from the school for them to walk to every night and morning. Building and working in the garden “can build the agency of children, address nutrition outcomes, help them be environmentally conscious adults and provide a platform for community engagement,” says Nidhi Mittal from Save the Children UK.

The grant will also be used to purchase cash prizes to reward other community contest winners who have developed kitchen gardens based on the school’s model. It is hoped the prizes will increase the community’s resilience to future climate impacts and encourage others to set up their own gardens.

The project is managed by Save the Children Vietnam’s emergency team, with support from Save the Children International, notably Paul Mitchell from Save the Children Australia, and Nidhi Mittal from Save the Children UK and funded by the European Commission. We are proud that we have a successful project, and were able to successfully host the team of international conference participants (with the active engagement and help of the project team, and the teachers and children in Hong Ca commune).

This guest blog was written by Gia Van Nguyen who is the Sector Head for Emergency Response at Save the Children Vietnam.