While an average of 12 disasters took place per year in the first half of the 20th century, that number reached an astounding 350 in 2004.
Increases in the intensity of extreme weather events linked to climate change — such as droughts, floods, cyclones and tornadoes — put people in danger, often destroying the places where they live and work and leaving behind damaged crops, contaminated water supplies and separated families.
While natural disasters are devastating for anyone who experiences them, children are the most vulnerable, due to their small size and relative inability to care for themselves.
Children are more likely than adults to perish during natural disasters or succumb to malnutrition, injuries or disease in the aftermath. Natural disasters may force children out of their homes – or even their countries. They may become orphaned or separated from their families, and may be preyed upon by opportunistic adults.
Risk-reduction initiatives should be designed to educate families and children about simple and practical actions that can protect life and personal property in the event of natural disaster. Effective awareness programmes in schools, homes and communities can create a culture of prevention and empowerment.