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Fostering resilience in children and families to tackle crisis conditions

Mar 15, 2011

2011 Humanitarian Action for Children provides an overview of projected humanitarian needs for 2011 in 32 countries and territories, and 6 regions. This latest edition also examines how UNICEF, through its humanitarian action, aims to foster resilience at the individual, community and institutional levels.

Unicef.jpg2011 Humanitarian Action for Children

Wherever humanitarian emergencies occur – whether because of natural disasters, human conflict or chronic crisis –resilience is a critical key to recovery.

Extensive humanitarian need requires far-reaching humanitarian action, carried out with utmost speed and often simultaneously in different parts of the world. While responding to immediate needs, humanitarian action also necessitates a sharpened focus on the larger duty to address underlying vulnerabilities should disaster strike, or strike again, especially at a time when threats are intensifying, multiplying and interacting in complex and sometimes little-understood ways.

Rooted in materials science and ecology, the concept of resilience has increasingly gained traction in the work of various social disciplines. While nuances vary, resilience generally describes the ability to anticipate, withstand and bounce back from external pressures and become a catalyst for transformation. For the humanitarian community, the common understanding of resilience that follows can offer a useful lens to examine and address increasingly complex crisis contexts.

In its simplest form, resilience can be best conceptualized as the ability of critical physical infrastructure to absorb shocks.5 For instance, the development of appropriate sanitation technologies for flood-prone areas can reduce the risk of infectious disease in the wake of a weather disaster. But the concept is much broader than simply structural fortification and hardware. It provides a lens for under standing how effectively social systems and their various components – individuals, families, schools, cities, states, and the family of states that constitutes the international system – guard against risk and collectively manage threats.

In 2010, natural disasters of unprecedented magnitude caused untold suffering for millions of children, their families and their communities. Conflict and insecurity exacted a heavy toll on lives and spirits. The examples of these affronts are numerous and include the earthquake in Haiti that destroyed its capital city; flooding in Pakistan that submerged one-fifth of the country; parched earth and hunger across the Sahel; and displacement and violence in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.

The large-scale humanitarian crises, as well as many lesser-reported emergencies, are evidence of the on going vulnerability of communities and entire countries to natural and man-made hazards. The country chapters in 2011 UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children show the impact of humanitarian emergencies – some short-term, many of them protracted – on the lives and dignity of children and families.

Today it is common for communities already living on the edge to be buffeted by a host of simultaneous or repeated shocks, such as political crises, disease epidemics or the destruction of shelter and productive assets in a storm or flood. Without the time and means to recover, and without social safety nets to fall back on, many communities lurch from emergency to emergency in a downward spiral of impoverishment and social disintegration.

2011 Humanitarian Action for Children highlights the ways UNICEF is working to foster resilience at the individual, community and institutional levels.

This year’s edition also highlights projected humanitarian needs for 2011 in 32 countries and territories and 6 regions.

Source : UNICEF
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