Disaster preparedness

© UNESCO/ Fernando Brugman
Destroyed classroom after the earthquake in Haiti

Recent disasters in Haiti and Pakistan in 2010 showed the need to “use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilence at all levels” as articulated in the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015. The role of education for disaster risk reduction strategies can thus be presented according to three types of activities: 1) Save lives and prevent injuries should a hazardous event occur, 2) Prevent interruptions to the provision of education, or ensure its swift resumption in the event of an interruption, and 3) Develop a resilient population that is able to reduce the economic, social and cultural impacts should a hazardous event occur.

Education for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) takes into account the relationships between society, environment, economy, and culture and their impacts. It also promotes critical thinking and problem-solving as well as social and emotional life skills that are essential to the empowerment of groups threatened or affected by disasters.

ESD, through its interdisciplinary and holistic approach to learning, helps create resilient societies. It encourages a long-term perspective in decision-making processes, critical thinking, and holistic and innovative approaches to problem-solving. ESD, therefore, contributes to DRR while DRR increases the relevance and the quality of education in disaster-prone areas.

ESD and Education for Disaster Risk Reduction at UNESCO

UNESCO gives specialized policy advice and technical assistance to affected governments, UN agencies and non-profit organizations in reactivating education system in post-disaster situations. It also plays a catalytic role, including advocacy, networking and participation in inter-agency activities, to ensure that educational needs are met in post-disaster settings. It is actively involved in post-disaster programmes such as the Myanmar Education Recovery Programme (MERP) in the Asia-Pacific region.

UNESCO has been playing a valuable role within the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Thematic Platform on Knowledge and Education. With its ISDR partner agencies, UNESCO promotes the integration of Disaster Risk Reduction in national educational plans, school curricula and national strategies, as well as supporting natural disaster preparedness. UNESCO has promoted Education for Disaster Risk Reduction at a number of international events, including the workshop on “ESD and disaster risk reduction: building disaster-resilient societies”, organized during the 2009 Bonn World Conference on ESD.

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