Researching Post-emergency Recovery for Very Young
By Sithu Wai, Macquarie University
A Case Study from Myanmar
s part of a PhD research project1,
Dr. Sithu Wai is researching ways to
assess post emergency needs of young
children affected by disasters and conflicts.
The anticipated outcome is an enhanced
assessment framework which takes into
account holistic needs of young children and
The investigation includes an assessment
of the humanitarian response
needs of young children, including ways in
which community capacity and community
resilience impacts the recovery process for
children and families.
Where the Project is Conducted
The project is conducted in the Irrawaddy
Delta region of Myanmar, officially the
Republic of the Union of Myanmar, which
was devastated by a category IV cyclone
Myanmar is the second largest country
on the mainland Southeast Asia. Cyclone
Nargis, the deadliest cyclone in the history
of Myanmar, battered Irrawaddy Delta on
2-3 May 2008. With wind intensity of over
200 kilometres per hour, the cyclone claimed
about 140,000 lives (TCG, 2010) and
severely affected about 2.4 million out of the
7.35 million living in the affected township
The research project was conducted in
2011, three years after the cyclone. The
project targets children who were 2 – 4 years
of age at the time of the disaster. With the
focus on the affected children, now aged 5
– 7 years, the research involves gathering
data from caregivers, community leaders
and key service providers through the use
incorporate holistic assessment including
exploring needs, vulnerabilities, capacities
and interactions among children and
Why Focus on the Young?
families affected by a disaster or crisis and
Young children are undergoing profound humanitarian aid programmes. physical, mental, social and spiritual
development during the early years of life. An Enhanced Framework - VACS Disruption during these years can have long
term effects on every aspect of development: As part of the research project, Dr. Wai acute and chronic consequences are has developed a framework (VACS) which inevitable
Acute covers assessment of short and longer term
mortality, malnutrition, needs of young children following a disaster diseases, stunting, impaired cognitive and or emergency.
psychomotor development, behavioural
problems, low educational attainment, The framework incorporates a holistic delayed academic progress and, in the long investigation of strengths, capacities, needs term, poor career achievement resulting in and vulnerabilities which are not included in loss of income potential and other aspects other assessment tools. Most importantly, the framework specifically targets young
of quality life well into adulthood.
children, who are often left out of other
Essential life support measures such as assessment activities. water, sanitation, shelter and food are critical
for survival of children but they are not The VACS framework consists of four enough to mitigate the impact of disasters components. These are: on the development of children (Aguilar &
Vulnerability analysis (V)
AGIRI2 or stakeholder analysis (A)
However, there is a profound gap in our •
Community analysis (C )
knowledge about effective aid programmes •
Strategy analysis (S)
for very young children (Christoplos, 2006).
These components are described below.
Why the Need for a New Framework?
Vulnerability analysis addresses seven
Current guidelines and checklists for need components of human security (or safety). assessments being used by non-government These are:
organisations are useful for short term relief
but tend to lack focus on impact outcomes 1. Economic security of injury, death, livelihood disruption and 2. Food security difficulty in recovery...