Children and young people’s participation in disaster management is still a young and emerging field…..

The CUIDAR team recently completed a scoping review of disaster policy, practice and projects for what they say, or do not say, about children and young people.

Led by colleagues at the Open University of Catalonia, all CUIDAR partners contributed by searching relevant policy and practice reports in members’ countries (Greece, Spain, Italy, UK and Portugal) relating to children’s involvement in disaster management; interviewing key informants and sharing expertise. Additionally we reviewed and updated knowledge about the academic and research based literature, by compiling information and evidence from research projects in the field and by scoping evidence and gaps in scientific literature.

In contrast to systematic reviews, or other literature reviews, scoping reviews are particularly recommended to map existing evidence and literature in fields that, like ours, are large, complex, and diverse and have not been systematically reviewed before. Our review has discovered that children and young people’s participation in disaster management is still a young and emergent field. From 2008 onwards there is a growing global concern about putting children and young people at the heart of disaster management. Among the factors explaining this shift is the influence of the Hyogo (2005) and Sendai (2015) International Frameworks, together with the impact of major disasters in USA, New Zealand and Australia, and the evidence brought forward by important NGOs such as Save the Children and Plan International in developing countries. Although this tendency can also be seen at the European level, particularly in the UK and Italy, there is still a significant variation between the leading countries in this field.

However, this scoping study also reveals signs of change in Europe. This is especially so in the research field, where there are promising projects exploring participatory and creative methods and forms of engagement; expanding research to seldom explored ages, such as very young children and adolescents, and understanding more comprehensively the role of children throughout the different phases of disaster management. The knowledge emerging from these projects, together with the influence of international frameworks and the positive predisposition of practitioners and experts to incorporate children and young people in disaster management may contribute to positioning Europe as a leading area in this field in the mid-term.