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Published on Nov 2, 2012
Thailand experiences flooding every year as a result of monsoon rains, but the 2011 floods were the worst for 70 years. The floods resulted in the loss of more than 680 lives, including 103 children, mainly due to drowning. The floods also caused damages and losses estimated at US$45.5 billion. In the aftermath of the devastation, there were a number of national processes to review how the nation had coped and draw lessons for future policy on flooding preparedness and response. Sadly, the voices of children were mostly absent from these discussions. With this in mind, Raks Thai and UNICEF Thailand collaborated on a research project to get the views of children and young people on how they experienced the floods, their assessment of the emergency response, and their ideas on how to better prepare for future floods and other emergencies so that their needs are taken into account.
Researching the views of children requires sensitive methodologies to ensure that children, especially very young ones, can express themselves in ways that are appropriate to their capacity. Drawing and painting, story-telling, group discussions, in-depth interviews, as well as observation were used in this research. Over 650 children selected from three flood-affected provinces of Lopburi, Ayutthaya and Bangkok were involved in research activities which took place from March-April 2012. The research team at Raks Thai has carefully analysed the findings which were presented at a national seminar in Bangkok in November involving representatives of relevant central and local government, private sector, NGOs, academics and media, and over 80 children, including some of the research participants.
Children's participation, along with survival, development and protection, is one of the four major pillars of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Thailand is a signatory. In supporting the Raks Thai research, UNICEF hopes not only that the children involved had an opportunity to freely express themselves on their experience of the national disaster, but also that their views will help influence national policy both during an emergency and in planning for future preparedness.