Children and Disaster Risk Reduction in dialogue: an interactive exhibition

ICS-ULisboa, Portugal

The Portuguese team of CUIDAR will hold a small exhibition, presenting the project results in Portugal through posters containing drawings, photos, and quotes, as well as interactive exhibits. The team, as well as a group of youngsters who participated in the project, will be on hand to interact with visitors and share their experiences. The exhibition will follow a narrative that will define not only the selection of materials and quotes but also the way they are arranged, in order to tell a story to the viewer. The quotes will be in English, but participants can comment in any language. We will be available for anyone needing translation. Participants will also have the opportunity express their perceptions, opinions, and proposals on the issue of disaster risk reduction and the participation of children and young people.


The Portuguese team opted to create a small interactive exhibition depicting the work done in Portugal. This choice was justified by interest in the exploring new dissemination tools, which would let participants explore the content and become acquainted with the work done in Portugal at their own pace, while at the same time having the opportunity to share their own opinion and interacting with team members and young people who took part in the project. It was also a way of overcoming the limitations of the other workshops in terms of the number of participants.

The exhibition opened with a flipchart inviting visitors to write what, in their opinion, a disaster is:

“It’s something natural, which can happen at any time, or place, but can also be provoked”

“Disasters can happen over a long time”

“It can be a natural or man-made event that can have severe consequences for all… for children disasters can mean so many more things… My son would say it’s a disaster if his phone runs out of charge…”

“It is something natural that we don’t like, we aren’t waiting and it could be bad but it could be an opportunity to grow.”

“A catastrophic event that has risk to lives which is not responded to effectively”

“An event which had not been prepared for, which has outcomes for a lot of people and animals.”

“Education, prevention are the most important!”

“Disasters are all unnatural events. Their causes and impacts are consequence of pre-existing socioecological vulnerabilities!”



It was followed by three posters with pictures and short texts illustrating the three stages of the WP3 workshops: to discover, to propose, and to discuss.

The next wall showcased the communication products people (posters and leaflets affixed to the wall) designed by Portuguese children and young and presented to stakeholders during the WP4 Mutual Learning Events.

Finally visitors were encouraged to take out of a vase a piece of paper containing a sentence issuing from the WP5 event and post it on a white board, in a table headed ‘Participation of children and young people in Disaster Risk Reduction’ with two columns with the titles ‘Factors that hinder’ and ‘Factors that promote’. They were also asked to add their own factors in coloured notes.

What hinders Children and Young People participation in DRR? What supports Children and Young People participation in DRR?
“Lack of information and contingency plans”

“In the disaster situation is difficult to explain your feelings”

“Lack of budget for meaningful participatory activities”

“Lack of child participation after disasters have happened”

“Believing that children and young people have a right to express their views and be taken seriously”

“More direct experiences with risks in risk reduction educational programs”

“Thinking about impact on children after a disaster and how children can form + design own recovery + support”

“See children + young people as active citizens not passive victims. Perception of children + YP needs to change”

“That students can make decisions that are then implemented by the senior management of the school”


Visitors were guided through the mini-exhibition by nine young people who had participated in the workshops in Loures, who explained the work done and shared their experiences of taking part in CUIDAR. Approximately 40 participants visited the exhibition and interacted with the young people and the team members.

[Ana Delicado and Jussara Rowland, ICS University of Lisbon]







The exhibition made good use of the available space – a room with tables in the centre – by creating a perambulatory experience around its perimeter, with wall-mounted artworks, explanatory panels and an interactive activity. The exhibition was hosted by young people who had participated in the project, who explained the work and the impact it had on them.

The information panels clearly illustrated the journey they had been on, with each stage headlined– to Discover, to Propose, and to Discuss. Photographs of children and young people at local and national events were carefully and cleverly anonymized by being rendered as paintings.

Artworks by younger participants illustrated tips for before, during and after disasters, and included imaginative solutions for difficult times.

The final section was participatory –a glass jar was full of folded notes. On each one was written a suggestion made by the young people. The participant’s task was to decide if it was a hindrance or of help and to place it in the appropriate section on the wall –mounted board. Then, the invitation was to add your own suggestion, prompted by the note.

It was a good idea to have the interactive task at the end, as folk were better informed by then and could be of real use! The young hosts proved knowledgeable and engaged – ready and able to answer questions – and were hospitable and focused. All in all, an excellent experience.

[Mary Robson, member of the Ethics Board]