13 October 2017

Keeping children safe through preparedness

SOS Children's Villages Drought ERP programme in Kenya Photographer: Rory Sheldon

SOS Children’s Villages-Columbia University tap scientific knowledge and on-the-ground experience to keep children safe.

SOS Children’s Villages has launched a collaboration between its Global Emergency Response team and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The focus of the partnership is a joint effort to improve global disaster preparedness and management, focusing in particular on the risk-management tool Resilience360.

By transforming current emergency management procedures – which offer solutions predominately in the aftermath of disasters – the collaboration promises a proactive approach to emergency preparedness through research-based feedback.

“The SOS Children’s Villages-Columbia University collaboration equips us with science-based information to better prepare for and respond to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies”, said Andreas Papp, International Director of Global Emergency Response at SOS Children’s Villages.

“We now have the means to jointly develop modelling that gives us a better idea about how to protect SOS families and programmes, and the tools to react more quickly and effectively in our emergency relief programmes for children. This collaboration represents a cutting-edge partnership that draws on SOS Children’s Villages global experience in protecting children and Columbia University’s vast research capacity.”

Revolutionising emergency preparedness


“Nothing like this has ever been done before. But it needs to be done, if the world is going to survive the intensity of disasters, as the world becomes more vulnerable,” said Dan Osgood, Research Scientist working at IRI, adding: “What is required here is the experience SOS Children’s Villages has on the village level, and the expertise that we have in our partnership.”

The synergy will help address crucial knowledge gaps at the field level, providing information to prepare for the increasing intensity of disasters around the world.

The strategy to transform the current disaster-management cycle will involve moving into a more efficient disaster risk-management approach, ensuring an effective top-down and bottom-up feedback spiral. With the help of local staff, on-the-ground knowledge will be leveraged in order to estimate the relevance of early warnings and respond with early action.

“The end result is improving SOS Children’s Villages preparedness for potential disasters and our ability to respond when disaster hits, ensuring infrastructure that is vital to SOS Children’s Villages services remains intact. This is essential to help us protect and care for children,” said Markus Enenkel, research scientist at Columbia and the liaison focal point for the SOS Children’s Villages emergency-IRI collaboration.

“We’ve been locked in this cycle where we are not moving forward. Through this collaboration we are uniquely positioned to break out of this cycle,” said Osgood.

Combining local knowledge and some of the most sophisticated satellite technology, this collaboration will ensure the relevant information is accessible to make the key decisions that will ensure the protection of affected communities and families.