Engaging Children and Youth in Urban Community-Based Disaster Risk Management: Lessons from the cities of San Juan, Valenzuela and Quezon City, Philippines


The CBDRM intervention took place as a result of the project implemented by the Center for Disaster Preparedness in partnership with Plan International – Philippines through the technical support of Plan International Australia and funds provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government.

The project entitled “Strengthening Resilience to Disasters among targeted Vulnerable Communities in Manila, Philippines” was conducted in urban villages in three cities in Metro Manila due to the trend of rapid urbanization coupled with the burden of an ever-increasing population in the area and incidence of hazards such as fire, earthquake, flooding and social incidences like crime. It started in October 2014 and ended in June 2017. On the basis of the baseline research completed during the first year of the project, in order to have an inclusive and resilient environment for children and youth, the valuable recommendations of the respondents for the cities and barangays included the following:

  • Strict monitoring and evaluation of existing policies (e.g. curfew, solid waste management, and anti-child abuse)
  • Further capacity building activities for adults and children to enhance their knowledge and skills in DRR
  • Fostering of partnership with various stakeholders
  • Formation of values for adults and children
  • Livelihood opportunities that are sustainable
  • Involvement of children and youth in planning and budgeting processes.

These actions are regarded as fundamental in providing opportunities for the young generation to exercise leadership and become pioneers of change. These findings served as the basis of the activities conducted under the project with the enabling support of duty bearers.


Throughout its 3-year implementation, the project employed awareness-raising approaches and techniques such as children and youth camps, community contests (urban container gardening, poster making, etc.), concerts, exhibitions, development of an interactive Batang Handa, Batang Ligtas workbook, and other creative methods that helped the children and youth have a sense of ownership on the project. A child-centered Community Risk Assessment module, which serves as a guide to a separate risk assessment workshop with children from the one with adults was also developed to enable the children and youth to better understand the context of risk in their respective communities. Youth consultations were also conducted to enable children and youth to demonstrate a higher level of awareness of preparedness and response, as manifested in their view towards evacuation centers, early warning systems and preventive evacuation in cases of fire and other hazards. The project also renewed the youth’s sense of responsibility and commitment to the community, which is a step forward from being hard-headed, causing them to be apprehended by authorities due to vagrancy. It also fostered their self confidence and encouraged them to become more involved in the community. The youth were also able to lead awareness raising and capacity building activities that enabled them to learn about important life skills such as leadership, organization, admin and logistics work, among others. In the conduct of the small-scale projects, the youth from San Juan, Valenzuela and Quezon City were able develop project proposals, conduct activity and budget planning more systematically, and lessons learning. More importantly, through these opportunities under the project, they were able to reach out to and consult their peers in the community for them to be able to have a better understanding of their community, and to come up with meaningful activities that are relevant to their sector. The Technical Working Group (TWG) had been an enabling mechanism for participatory governance where youth representatives are able to actively contribute in all phases of activity implementation: conceptualization, planning, implementation and evaluation. Aside from their membership in the TWG, the project was designed to also enable the youth to lead awareness raising activities, seminars and small-scale projects, which also honed their confidence and leadership skills. The youth's exposure to the participatory process within the TWG had influenced them to also apply this approach through youth dialogues and consultations that they facilitated in preparation for their small-scale project implementation. This, in turn, honed their public speaking skills as revealed by their presentation of proposed small-scale projects to their respective Barangay Council and TWG. With this, youth participation has been clearly demonstrated throughout the project implementation. While the project did not focus on formally organizing the youth in each barangay or city, the gains in their collaboration and working together as a collective, certainly presents an opportunity for the strengthening of the sector through organizing. This will not only serve to make the sector cohesive, but will also provide for a much active constituency and enable a more supporting environment for youth representatives that are currently engaging in more formal structures such as the Barangay Development Council, through the (Task Force on Youth Development) TFYD. The extent of commitment, capacity, and potential demonstrated by the youth, particularly in engaging with the duty bearers, and other stakeholders such as the private sector, is enough impetus to sustain their involvement in resilience building. As demonstrated by their Yes SIR, Yes MAM! Campaign, the children and youth are in the best position to assess their situation and speak for themselves and their sector. The local governments, both at the city and village level, were highly engaged in the process for the project team, ensuring that courtesy calls are completed in each city and village and the city and village officials are always invited in the project activities. It is through their offices that the activities were coordinated by the project team. The local government also extended their assistance through the City and Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (C/BDRRMC) and the Village/Barangay Operations Center. Other than the local government, other government institutions also took part in leading issues for girl children and youth, alongside the issues of women such as the Violence Against Women Desks, Women and Child Protection Desk of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and concerns of persons with disabilities through the Persons with Disability Affairs Office. They worked hand in hand with TFYD, Committees on Women and Families and organizations of persons with disabilities. Key activities were conducted successfully also through partnerships established with organizations such as Philippine Educational Theater and Association (PETA), Child Rights Coalition (CRC), Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation (HLAF), CFPREP, and a network of private organizations like the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF).
In addition to engaging both boys and girls, women and persons with disabilities were engaged in the process. Community level workshops and trainings have shown that women are able to attend project activities more regularly than the men. This is because the latter have to attend to their day-to-day job. This makes the participation and role of women as influencers within their families crucial, as they are the ones who give primary care to children in their families. To enable and encourage the participation of women in project activities, the project team took into consideration the importance of the role that they play within the family. In doing so, the team accommodated women with children during activities, provide for children's corners where they can play, and also making adjustment in the activity duration to allow women to attend to their homemaking tasks. In Valenzuela City, the involvement of Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) in the Technical Working Group (TWG) led to the conducting of Training on Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM), in partnership with the Disabled People's Organization (DPO) Federation in the city. Action points from the 2-day activity were geared towards the development of a school and city-wide disability-inclusive Early Warning System (EWS), capacity building on disability-inclusive transfer techniques for all city department staff, basic life support for DPOs and disability sensitive risk assessments. Quezon City government has also moved to take forward the city-wide advocacy plan by including the identification of indicators for inclusive and child-friendly DRRM-CCA as one of the priorities in their 2018 Comprehensive Development Plan. In the conducting of barangay level workshops, the project has also encouraged the integration of disability sensitive EWS mechanisms such as the use of color-coded flags to indicate information on alert levels that can be accessed by hearing impaired members of the community, and audio signals from megaphones and public address systems that may be accessed by those who are visually impaired. The prioritization of persons with disabilities during preemptive evacuation was also identified among the concrete measures for an inclusive emergency plan. Another concrete outcome of the engagement with PDAO in the project, through the TWG, is the realization of San Juan City PDAO of the need for agedisaggregated data in the conducting of their city-wide tagging of houses of persons with disabilities. Taking into consideration the age and disability in the tagging will help emergency responders to respond appropriately based on age, gender and the type of disability. After observing the Fire Drill conducted in Barangay West Crame, the PDAO also realized the need for capacity-building for members of the Barangay DRRM Councils in properly assisting persons with disabilities, specifically children with disabilities, during evacuation and/or rescue, and in ensuring the provision of their needs inside the evacuation centers.
In the beginning of the project three (3) city-level and five (5) community-based meetings with duty bearers were conducted from December 2014 up to January 2015. The Project Inception Workshop was also implemented in September 2015. The workshop served as a venue for discussing the logframe, partnership agreement, budget and schedule of activities that will guide the project team in the implementation of the project’s second phase. Facilitation of youth consultation wherein the youth are able to actively contribute to the conceptualization of activities in ways that were appropriate and would appeal more to their age group, interests and preferences was also done in order to ensure that the activities are sensitive to the concerns and needs of the aforesaid population. For the past three years of the project, CDP and Plan Philippines have exerted efforts to ensure the monitoring of the project. Since the onset of year 1, the CDP project team has closely worked with Plan Philippines’ Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officer to track the progress of the activities. The said institutions also drafted an M&E plan based on the logical framework of the project. The teams have finalized the document and agreed on sets of outcome and output indicators that would guide the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project. Monitoring visits and observations have also been planned. Regular meetings of the project management committee (PMC) and the technical working group (TWG) have facilitated the updating of project progress, the sharing of challenges and good practices, and in tracking the outcomes of each component.


Sustainability has been an important consideration for the project team since the beginning of the implementation in Phase 1. Amid the numerous activities conducted over the course of three years, the project was able to put in place structural mechanisms, through the Technical Working Group (TWG) in every city, that can sustain the value of the knowledge and capacities gained both by duty bearers and rights holders through the project. More importantly, member agencies in the TWG are envisioned to mainstream in their respective mandates, the principles and approaches of child-centered DRRM programming. Aside from setting up structural mechanisms, the project also conducted concrete activities towards project sustainability, primarily through the sustainability planning conducted towards the end of the project with duty bearers and the children and youth. The sustainability planning workshops were conducted separately for each set of stakeholders and were undertaken in the context of lessons learned, i.e. identifying the gains, areas for improvement and opportunities in the course of project implementation.