Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
2006-2007 World Disaster Reduction Campaign “Disaster risk reduction begins at school”
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.
The International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction: October 11, 2006
Disaster risk reduction begins at school
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.
The information kit of this campaign is available on the following websites: