Child protector at Pedregal Chico
Carla, 29, is part of the Protection Committee at the small town of Pedregal Chico located in the district of Catacaos, Piura. This committee promotes the inclusion of psychosocial care spaces in the community, coordinates the response to child protection needs and organizes activities to inform and make people aware of the local and district protection services.
Since 2018, after the arrival of Save the Children, Carla undertook the management of a safe space where, through play, care is offered to children and adolescents in vulnerable situations.
“Our small town was very tranquil. We had always been affected by the rains, but in 2017, when the river overflowed its banks, our houses were flooded, and we had to abandon them,” this is how Carla recounts what happened in her small town after the coastal El Niño event that caused heavy rains and floods. The disaster affected her directly, and she experienced herself how difficult it is to face an emergency when you are not prepared.
“It had a great impact on us. We had no place to be; the children couldn’t go to school, they didn’t have a home. They lost their school supplies and their toys; I could see all that happening. We had to live among animals and outdoors. This affected all of us very much, especially psychologically”.
Carla felt powerless unable to find ways to help her family and her neighbors, especially the most vulnerable. “The children were the most affected. They were exposed to many dangers, some even got lost,” she says with sorrow as she recalls those hard times. Since 2018, Carla has been learning more about the importance of disaster risk management and the protection of the rights of children and adolescents.
“I was very interested in the vision of the organization and attended several training sessions to identify children with difficulties. I learned about the importance of creating safe spaces for them.”.
Nowadays, she acknowledges that the Piura River continues to be a threat. However, Carla is proud that today, her community is already organized and prepared to face emergencies and protect children.
Risk management and child protection from the community
Carla’s community and other localities along the Piura River have already organized to face new emergencies. “Previously, the needs of children and adolescents, as well as those of people with disabilities, were not taken into account.” Today, disaster risk management is part of their daily lives, and the child protection approach provides special value to family emergency plans.
“The river is still a threat because we don’t have a barrier to protect us, but now we are better prepared. We conduct drills and each family has an emergency backpack and knows the escape routes”.
Carla is very clear that, if the emergency happens now, they are organized by committees, and they know who will take care of what. “I’m part of the Community Protection Committee, whose role is to protect children and people in vulnerable situations, such as the elderly and people with disabilities,” she says enthusiastically.
“I think it’s crucial that localities like Pedregal Chico have prevention and risk management plans that include the needs of children and seek to protect them from the risks they face because they are such a vulnerable population.”
About the intervention:
The project ” Disaster Risks Prevention and Reduction with a Protection Approach in Piura” has been implemented by Save the Children with support from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (OFDA/USAID). This intervention promotes a better child protection system after the floods caused by the coastal El Niño phenomenon in 2017, in the districts of Cura Mori and Catacaos in Piura. The project works at the district and community levels with strategies that include measures to guarantee non-discrimination, access, equity and equal opportunities for girls, boys and adolescents. At the district level, the project works hand in hand with local government authorities and officials to build their capacities and promote risk and disaster management actions with a child protection approach. Likewise, there is work done with communities to generate community networks, led by community leaders trained by the project, to implement risk prevention and child protection actions in case of disasters.