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

Partners in action / Education


Peace Education for Disaster Risk Reduction :
The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA)

The Hyogo Framework is a global blueprint for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by 168 governments which agreed on five priority actions: (1) Make Disaster Risk Reduction a priority; (2) Know the risk and take action; (3) Build understanding and awareness; (4) Reduce risk; (5) Be prepared and ready to act.

While Hyogo is an unprecedented advancement in Disaster Risk Reduction globally, it needs to be remembered that Disaster Risk Reduction is vastly handled by national authorities and international organizations, whose applied practice cannot keep up to theoretical advancements in the Disaster Risk Reduction community. However, this being understood, Disaster Risk Reduction experts need to refer also to other practice models and frameworks already developed by related fields of study like environment, gender, HIV and peace studies.

For example, using a Peace Education inquiry methodology can integrate the Hyogo Framework for Action within a framework for learning, that will aid in the necessary new thinking and accompanying behaviors that can help sustain this effort. Such thinking and behavioral change can be facilitated through Peace Education methodologies that emphasize inquiry based approaches, critical thinking, and cooperative learning.

Moreover, Peace Education can be more widely diffused having an emergency which can be seen as entry point: it can provide a "crisis situation" in which the rebuilding of the system provides an excellent opportunity for transforming education and values in a certain community, so that it meets the learning needs of diverse groups within a given population. It can also serve as a mechanism for contributing to the prevention of emergencies and violence reduction.

Education in emergencies and for reconstruction, is a relatively new field that offers a number of challenges. It provides a much greater opportunity for education and contributes to the development of processes and activities, rather than serving only as a means to maintain the status quo.

We will briefly look at the following five points of the Hyogo Framework for Action and identify the necessary learning that possibly should take place in facilitating the outcomes the framework identifies.

1 Make Disaster Risk Reduction a priority

Citizens need to understand how their behaviors and practices impact upon the environment. Environmental change is a cross- cutting theme of human security, and risk reduction

According to Kofi Annan:

“… a new understanding of the concept of security is evolving…The need for a more human-centered approach to security is reinforced…Human security, in its broadest sense, embraces far more than the absence of violent conflict. …Freedom from want, freedom from fear, and the freedom of future generations to inherit a healthy natural environment -- these are the interrelated building blocks of human – and therefore national – security.”

The prospect of human security is threatened by underdevelopment (freedom from want), violent conflict (freedom from fear), and societal and natural hazards (freedom from hazard impacts). As Brauch (2006) emphasized there is a need to strengthen human security as “Freedom from Hazard Impact,” and this requires mainstreaming efforts, in political and scientific tracks, toward environmental dimension of human security and a “paradigm shift” within the UN system, from national to human security perspectives on environmental threats, challenges, vulnerabilities and risks. As environmental factors can lead to conflict and have impact on conflict prone areas, the importance of addressing complex emergencies is emphasized.

Photo: UN/ISDR

Peace Education can facilitate inquiry, dialogue and research on the complex causal linkages existing between hazards & conflicts. Its methodology nurtures in citizens, both the skills and knowledge needed to take a holistic and balanced approach to human security, that is based upon a realization of inter-linkages between freedom from fear, and freedom from want, as well as freedom to live in dignity.
2 Know the risk and reduce risk

Risk reduction concepts and risks mapping indexing and assessment are tools for exploring ideas and ways of thinking that deepen our understanding of the concepts, the interrelationships and the methods to bring about the changes sought in the achievement of reducing the underlying risk factors, and to identify roots, structures, and actors that contribute to the creation and the maintenance of vulnerabilities. The causes of vulnerabilities are recognized as multiple and interrelated levels of society and almost all levels of human thinking. Reconnecting the micro and the macro, (as illuminated above in the case of Katrina though the lens of violence) is fundamental to Disaster Risk Reduction to elucidate the complex and systemic nature of vulnerabilities, as well as the holistic and interrelated strategies for reducing the impact of hazards. There are numerous efforts at more holistic risk indexing including the following:

3 Build Understanding and Awareness

“...Our social problems, at all levels, local through global, are as much a matter of ethics (norms, and values) as they are of structures…” (Reardon; 1995)
Developing an understanding and awareness of the concept of interdependence is essential to create a worldview that facilitates participatory/active citizenship and personal responsibility. The importance of such thinking is the ability to express global awareness about risk reduction in terms of holism, which can link the individual directly, rather than abstractly, to the wider environment. Building understanding on risk reduction may be achieved by distracting the ‘disturbing values’ and by introducing the ‘missing values’(e.g. universal human dignity; equality, justice and inclusion, care for the sustainability and diversity of nature, society, participation, responsibility, cooperation, value-sharing, solidarity, etc.).

For instance, the Earth Charter can be used as an educational tool for Disaster Risk Reduction in guiding sustainable community development. The Charter aims to help people develop strategies that will build on their own community’s strengths, and to provide future generations with the capacity to live healthy and productive lives, and to reduce the uncertainty associated with getting community involved in developing and adopting sustainable policies.

The Earth Charter embodies the ethics contained in such international documents as Local Agenda 2, the Millennium Development Goals, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities, the World Charter for Nature, the Bill of Rights for Future Generations, and the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. It is a groundbreaking international document whose participatory process has captured the broadest possible cross-section of people all over the world. It truly came from the people, not from a small group of intellectuals. One of the core tenets of the Earth Charter is that its principles are interdependent. The distillation of prior treaties, and the global public participation, make the Earth Charter unique.

4 Reduce risk and be prepared and ready to act

Peace studies has the merit of showing that disaster risk causes are not only structural, (e.g., hazard, poverty, land pressure) but also psycho-cultural (e.g., related to fear and myths). To be prepared and ready to act and to act, both kinds of approaches must be fully considered: both factors interact in how we get prepared to a disaster, and take appropriate risk reducing actions.

This constitutes an important challenge in the sense that this approach runs counter to the common thinking that tends to assert that the causal factors considered in Disaster Risk Reduction are primarily, if not exclusively structural/material. A psycho-cultural approach observes the psychological and cultural forces that frame the beliefs and behaviors individuals and groups have association with disasters.

Since Northrup (1989) describes distortion as a psychological response to threat, and developed a conception of the psychology of victimhood that is based on real, but also mythologized facts, as well as memories of suffering and psychological wounds, it follows that history thus plays a crucial role in Disaster Risk Reduction.

Education can promote awareness of successful disaster prevention cases by transforming dispositional psychological tendencies, such as the sense of impotence, of individuals and groups. As the sense of victimhood and psychological wounds in general are transmitted from one generation to another, Education for Disaster Risk Reduction could play a very important role.

In this context, the incorporation of many aspects of a Peace Education approach can shed light on the Disaster Risk Reduction context, because its methodology focuses on the understanding of the root causes of the problematique, and also on the identification of the most adequate strategies for behavioral change. Peace Education helps us to look at any changes that might be necessary in the interior dimensions, in the belief that all aspects of outer peace must be based on inner peace.


3 Hans Gunter Brauch, Towards Fourth Pillar of Human Security, “Freedom from Hazard Impacts”, International Symposium on building and Synergizing Partnership for global Human Security and development Bangkok, Thailand, 30-31 May 2006

4 T. Northrup, 'The Dynamic of Identity in Personal and Social Conflict,' in L. Kriesberg et al. (eds.), Intractable Conflicts and their Transformation (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1989), pp.68

1 Betty Reardon, Educating for Human Dignity: Learning About Rights and Responsibilities, (Pennysilvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995)

For further information, please contact:
Verónica Pacini:
Tony Jenkins