The role of education in protecting children and communities when disaster strikes.


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Left homeless by the cyclone, children gather outside a school that serves as a shelter near the town of Kundangon, Myanmar.

By Rudina Vojvoda

NEW YORK, 8 May 2011 – More than 175 million children are likely to be affected each year by climate-related disasters. While coping with climate change is becoming quintessential for our society, so is preparing the future generations to deal with the aftermath of disasters and adapt to the ever-changing climate.

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The Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, a forum that brings together stakeholders and experts committed to reducing disaster risk worldwide, gathers this week in Geneva under the main theme, “Invest Today for a Safer Tomorrow”. In the lead up to this event, podcast moderator Amy Costello discussed the importance of education in protecting children and communities with Ben Wisner, a research fellow at the Oberlin College and University College London and Marla Petal, the co-founder of Risk Red, a virtual organization working to increase the effectiveness of disaster risk reduction education.

Building safely, saving lives

Recent disasters around the globe have demonstrated how heavily our modern society depends on critical infrastructure; yet, the regulations are often overlooked.

For Marla Petal, building safe schools is not only a matter of funding. “It doesn’t cost even 10 per cent more than building unsafely”, said Ms. Petal. Expanding the conversation, Mr. Wisner said that only pressure from society would ensure the implementation of safe schools. “Governments don’t give full accountability willingly, people have to demand it”, concluded Mr. Wisner.

Women, a creative force in bringing communities together

When disasters strike, women are often responsible for securing food, water, and energy in homes. As a result, they harbor a vast yet underutilized knowledge on accelerating communities’ resilience to natural hazards. ”All over the world women are the ones who are more proactive in communities after disaster in bringing together people, establishing social networks, said Mr. Wisner.

Future agenda for Disaster Risk Reduction

Referring to the Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva from the 8 -13 May 2011, Ms. Petal said: “I’d like us to put the same diligence and science to work into finding out how to communicate disaster prevention and how to be most effective in disaster prevention education”.

Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

UNICEF Disaster Risk Reduction and Education

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