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Within 24 hours of the Vardah cyclone making landfall on 12 December, Save the Children launched a child-centric disaster response with its humanitarian team spreading out to the affected areas. It is now conducting rapid assessment across the most-affected districts in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Save the Children began its response in Ponneri district of Thiruvallur within 3 days of the crisis. The assessments of the villages showed that the immediate needs of the families were of shelter, food, drinking water and power supply.
650 families residing in 6 villages were provided shelter, drinking water containers and dry food rations and 64,000 thousand liters of drinking water as part of the immediate response.
Tiruvallur District is a project area under Save the Children and Nokia’s project of Building Resilience of children and their communities by integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Social Protection with Technology. Minjur is the most severely affected Block in Tiruvallur, with 20 out of 40 selected villages in the list of severely affected villages. In these 20 villages, nearly 685 of the 185 households have been affected, which were very close to the sea. Save the Children and its partner organization, Avvai Village Welfare Society, conducted the ‘Rapid Needs Assessment’, and initiated the relief distribution process.
“Save the Children came to our village with drinking water and they supplied water to every family. We were very happy because for the last three days we had been struggling to get water,” said Rajashwari, resident of Cenjiamman Nagar. “Later Save the children also gave us floor mats, blankets and water containers. Everyone was happy to receive the material because the distribution took place in a systematic way. I am very thankful because this help will help us to overcome this crisis.”
95 families were evacuated with the help of local officials and Save the Children trained task force members to safer places as the backwaters and the sea water flooded the village; in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor and Nellore district.
Another vital part of Save the Children relief work is protecting children from physical harm and psycho-social distress in the aftermath of an emergency. An important aspect of child protection is setting up of Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) which also serve as Temporary Learning Centres. 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 and the first of these CFS’ has started on 14 December.
“It is important to remember that children are the most vulnerable during disasters, we know that after any emergency children face many hardships and risks,” said Sajit Menon, Deputy Programme Director, Save the Children. “Their social protection, health and development needs and welfare are our main focus. We help the families by providing children a safe environment to play and learn. Though our disaster risk reduction work we help communities become more resilient and avoid post disaster losses which cascade into larger household impacts and outcomes, such as taking children out of school and sending them to work.” “Building resilience skills among the community is the only way to sustain their disaster management skills.We cannot stop natural disasters but we can prepare ourselves to prevent loss,” said M. Krishnakumar, Secretary, Avvai Village Welfare Society.
Save the Children follows the six core principles in responding to a crisis situation: People-centred humanitarian response, Coordination and collaboration, Assessment, Design and response Performance, Transparency and learning, Humanitarian aid performance.
Save the Children works across 20 states of India; it focusses on issues related to education, health and protection of children, humanitarian work especially for the most deprived and marginalized children.
Avvai village welfare society works in the areas of Education, Health, Women empowerment, Livelihood, Climate change adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur and Thiruvallur Districts of Tamil Nadu and Karaikal District of Puducherry.
Visit www.savethechildren.in for more information