The Portuguese CUIDAR team has been holding workshops in two schools in the municipality of Albufeira, in collaboration with the Municipal Service of Civil Protection. The city has close to 41,000 inhabitants and is located on the southern coast of the country. In November 2015 downtown Albufeira experienced heavy floods, that caused significant damage to houses, shops and roads. A few years previously five people died on the beach due to landslides at the cliffs. This location was chosen due to these events, since children would have a heightened perception of climate related risk.
The workshops were held in two schools in the municipality, with a class of 4th grade (9-10 year olds) and with a group of 9th graders who volunteered to participate. The workshops were designed to provide opportunities for children and young people to reflect on the theme of disasters associated with climate change impacts and express their perspectives and proposals to reduce such risks in their community.
In the first session the children and young people carried out activities around disasters whose frequency and intensity may increase as a result of climate change, with a particular focus on those affecting Portugal. In the second session, recent events that highlighted the main risks of the town of Albufeira (floods and falling cliffs) and the roles of different agents responsible for risk management, including community members and the location of risk areas and capabilities in the municipality were discussed.
In the third session, participants made their own proposals for risk reduction measures in the stages of preparation / prevention, response and recovery in three different contexts: home, school and the city. Materials to communicate these measures were developed in the fourth workshop, in preparation for the Mutual Learning Exercise, taking place on November 23 with the presence of children and young people and representatives of the entities that are part of the Municipal Commission of Civil Protection.
The results of the workshops show that children and young people have interesting contributions to make to reduce the risk in their communities and to “give voice to children” is a challenging but rewarding task, contributing to a more active citizenship and more participatory democracy, even among younger age groups.