Role of Schools in Creating Earthquake-Safe Environment

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Disaster Management and Educational Facilities/ Greece/ 7-9 November, 2001

Role of Schools in Creating Earthquake-Safer Environment
Rajib Shaw* shaw@hyogo.uncrd.or.jp and Masami Kobayashi masami@hyogo.uncrd.or.jp United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) Disaster Management Planning Hyogo Office Kobe, Japan *Earthquake Disaster Mitigation Research Center (EdM), Miki, Japan

Abstract Schools play a vital role in the community, and are important elements of the values and culture of the society. A proper education through the schools not only teaches the children, but also reaches deep into the community through the parents and teachers. The School Earthquake Safety Initiative has been undertaken by UNCRD with specific focus on four countries in Asia: India, Indonesia, Nepal and Uzbekistan. The objective of the initiative is to develop disaster-resilient communities through self-help, cooperation and education. The initiative aims to promote earthquake-safer construction practices through retrofitting of school buildings in a participatory way, with the involvement of the local communities, local governments and non-government organizations. It also aims to promote disaster education among the children, teachers, and parents. A safer school can save valuable lives of the children, can be used as a temporary shelter after the earthquake, and can promote the culture of prevention and mitigation through community activities. Thus, the importance of school in every aspect of disaster cycle from pre-disaster mitigation to post-disaster rehabilitation can be recognized. Significant success have been achieved, and many important lessons have been learned, which can and should be applicable to different other earthquake prone cities and countries.

Introduction Earthquakes are considered as one of the most destructive natural disasters and can produce many types of losses, including physical, socio-economic and cultural losses. Although physical losses such as lives, buildings and social infrastructures will most directly affect the victims, other types of losses might trigger the social unrest and aggravate poverty level. It has severe impact on the development stages of the country and in many cases it has been observed that one single event does affect significant percent of the national Growth Domestic Product (GDP). To live in a safer environment is a basic human need. To make the development process sustainable, it is important to emphasize on the prevention and pre-disaster mitigation aspects. The most significant

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Disaster Management and Educational Facilities/ Greece/ 7-9 November, 2001

issue in this regard is to have a proper education training and perspective regarding the earthquake risk and its consequences. UNCRD’s Disaster Management Planning (DMP) Program was initiated in 1985. Progress in regional development has led to a better and safer living environment, but it has also made the environment more vulnerable to natural hazards. The program’s research and training projects aim to support local government, non-government, and academic institutions in creating partnership with communities in developing countries for disaster management. The goal of this program is two-fold: 1) improve the capacity of communities to develop and implement disaster management plans, and 2) strengthen public awareness of natural hazards. The School Earthquake Safety Initiative (henceforth termed as ‘SESI’) is aimed to promote self-help and education for disaster mitigation by building safe and sustainable community. The participatory approach in the community development and capacity building among the local people are the key focus areas of the initiative. Schools have been found as the key element for the community involvement in Japan and other countries worldwide. School not only provides education to the children, a strong school also helps in emergency shelters immediately after the earthquake....
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