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Save the Children has launched a child-centric flood response in Tamil Nadu to reach out to vulnerable children, who are the worst-hit following the recent floods. To protect children from physical harm and psycho-social distress during an emergency, one of Save the Children’s key programmatic interventions is setting up of Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) which also serve as Temporary Learning Centres. Over the next fortnight, Save the Children will establish 7 CFS’ (out of a total plan for at least 20 CFS’) across Chennai and affected coastal districts.
Child Friendly Spaces provide children with protected environments in which they participate in organized activities to play, socialize, learn, and express themselves as they rebuild their lives. A CFS caters to children in the age group of 3 – 18 years. It provides a child-focussed and child-friendly environment in which children continue their cognitive development. The CFS enable parents to leave their children, while they rebuild their homes and seek new livelihood opportunities, if necessary.
The recent floods have washed away all the belonging of children including their learning aids, toys, and recreational areas. The CFS’, equipped with learning and recreational aids, would cater to the much-needed learning and protection needs. “Generally, emergency relief items address the needs of adults and it’s assumed that the same would be consumed by the children too,” points out Vinay Iyer, Project Director for Save the Children, who is leading the humanitarian response on the ground. “It is very important to understand that the needs of children in times of emergencies differ from adults and must be addressed accordingly. For instance, their learning and playing spaces are encroached by adults -- making them more vulnerable in times of emergency. Children are often also forced to remain without family support for extended periods, during emergencies. A CFS, therefore, addresses their protection, learning, health and development needs.”
Save the Children’s child-centric response includes:
Provision of education kits
Provision of safe drinking water
Each CFS manned by trained volunteers
Each CFS to have first aid kit
Food basket includes items like Ragi, biscuits that focus on children’s needs.
Moreover, child-headed and women-headed families are always given preference in the relief distribution.
The first of the CFS has been set up in Kasikoil Kuppam, which is a coastal village located in Tiruvottiyur zone of Corporation of Chennai. It is mostly habituated by fishermen families and others who involve in daily wages. The village is located in a low-lying area affected by flooding from lakes in and around Manali. Nearly 1000 families are affected in this area -- out of which houses of 27 families have been completely destroyed. Many of the remaining houses are made of poor construction material or mud (Kaccha) and are currently not habitable due to sludge left behind by the receding water. The children from the locality are not going to the school as it is being used a camp for hosting the displaced population. While the children are happy to go back to school, they are equally morose as they have lost all their study material in the recent floods. The CFS in this community would give them an opportunity to overcome their grief and give them a space to creative activities. The CFS here will function in a community hall and about 110 children will benefit from it.
Two CFS have also been initiated in Budumbadi and Kalkunam villages of Kurunjpadi block of Cudddalore district – with both of them catering to about 30 children each.
Save the Children works across 17 states of India; and, apart from its humanitarian work, it focusses on issues related to education, health and protection of children, especially for the most deprived and marginalized children.
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