Development communication in disaster risk reduction : the G.I.R.R.L. (Girls in risk reduction leadership) project / Maartens Y.
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South African informal settlement communities are faced with infrastructural cha llenges such as a lack of proper housing, poor sanitation, poor electrical connections, if any, poor medical facilities and various social health risks such as HIV/Aids, TB and other STDs, as well as high levels of violence and crime. Young girls form a portion of the demographics of such informal settlements. Most adolescent girls, between the ages of 13 and 18 years are at an increased risk merely because they are physica lly smaller than their male peers, are able to become pregnant and have to compete with multiple siblings and family members. Most of these young girls have to leave school to act as heads of households, to provide an income or because they have become pregnant. These factors form the crux of disaster risk reduction initiatives as such initiatives focus on bui lding up the resiliency of those who are most vulnerable in society. This study focuses on the aspects of disaster risk, risk reduction and communitybased disaster risk awareness. The study is unique in that combines the fie lds of development communicat ion and disaster risk reduction and the principles of participative development communication form the guidelines throughout the study. The purpose of the study is to determine whether the inclusion of development communication principles could increase stakeholder involvement and whether development communication could address the gaps that have been identified within the G. I.R.R.l. Programme as a community-based disaster risk reduction initiative. This community-based initiative is known as the Girls In Risk Reduction Leadership (G. I.R.R.l.) Project and was designed to implement within a disaster risk reduction capacity. Focus groups were held with the participants of the G.I.R.R.l. Project and semi-structured interviews were held with the project team. The results of the research indicate the importance of baseline research before implanting a community-based disaster risk reduction initiative. The findings support the principles of development communication within disaster risk reduct ion and are applied to the G.I.R.R.L. Programme and the respective limitations that were identified by the research. The study highlights the importance of participat ion in community-based disaster risk reduction in it iat ives and places young adolescent girls in the spotlight. Development communication is an important aspect to consider and this study outlines its ro le in the disaster risk reduction environment.
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