International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001

Global ISDR


2006-2007 World Disaster Reduction Campaign “Disaster risk reduction begins at school”

The UN world disaster reduction campaigns are important communication initiatives organized by the ISDR secretariat. They are designed to raise awareness among people all over the world, as well as among all professional sectors with regard to what they can do to protect their countries and communities from the negative effects caused by natural risks. As part of the campaigns, a number of activities are organized, each year, based on different themes. Their primary goals to build local capacities to strengthen a system for disaster reduction (at local, regional and international levels). The current campaign is biennial (2006-2007).

To inform and ensure the future of our communities, the UN/ISDR secretariat and its partners have made disaster risk education and safer school facilities the two key themes of the 2006-2007 World Disaster Reduction Campaign, titled “Disaster risk reduction begins at school”. The campaign is aimed at mobilizing governments, communities and individuals to ensure that disaster risk reduction is fully integrated into school curricula in high-risk countries, and that school buildings are retrofitted to withstand natural hazards. The campaign will last through the end of 2007, but it will continue thereafter under the auspices of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Photo: J. Jenkins PAHO/WHO

The International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction: October 11, 2006
The World Disaster Reduction Campaign, which extends throughout the year, culminates on the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction. The United Nations designated the second Wednesday of each October as the day devoted to highlight the importance of disaster reduction throughout the world. In 2006, the International Day will be commemorated on October 11.

Disaster risk reduction begins at school
When a natural hazard strikes, children predominate the most vulnerable population group, especially those who are attending school during the disaster.

Disasters such as the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, where over 16,000 children died in schools that collapsed, or the recent mudslide on Leyte Island in the Philippines, where more than 200 school children were buried alive, are just a few tragic examples of why more actions need to be taken to protect our children before disasters strike.

In all societies, our children represent hope for the future. By extension, schools, because of their direct link to youth, are universally regarded as institutions of learning, both for instilling cultural values and for passing on traditional and conventional knowledge to younger generations. Therefore, protecting our children during natural hazards, requires two distinct, yet inseparable, priorities for action: disaster risk education and school safety.

Making disaster risk education part of national, primary and secondary school curricula fosters awareness and better understanding of the immediate environment in which children and their families live and work. We know from past experience that children who are taught about natural hazard risks play an important role in saving lives and protecting members of the community in times of crisis.

On a beach in Thailand, when the December 2004 Tsunami struck, British schoolgirl Tilly Smith saved many lives by urging people to flee the shore: her geography class in Britain had enabled her to recognize the first signs of a tsunami. At the same time, Anto, a young boy on the Indonesian island of Simeulue had learned from his grandfather what to do when an earthquake strikes. He and all the other islanders ran to higher ground before the tsunami struck, sparing all but eight members of the community.

In most societies, in addition to their essential role in formal education, schools also serve, in normal times, as a community’s central location for meetings and group activities, and as makeshift hospitals, vaccination centers or places of refuge and shelter in times of disaster. Yet, several hundred million children across developed countries and the developing world attend schools in buildings that are unable to withstand the forces of nature.

As disaster risk reduction is everybody’s business and in everybody’s interest, we invite you to join the UN/ISDR secretariat and its partners in this world campaign. Together, we can help children build - with us, and for all of us - a safer world. Schools make the difference between despair and hope. They can also make the difference between life and death.

For further information, please contact:
Brigitte Leoni
Laura Ngo-Fontaine
Margarita Villalobos

The information kit of this campaign is available on the following websites: