Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

UN Launches Campaign For Disaster-Proof Schools

Kashmir, Pakistan - students are taught in a makeshift school after last year's earthquake destroyed the area. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) Jun 16, 2006
The United Nations kicked off a new campaign Thursday aiming to reduce the impact on children of disasters like the Asian tsunami, the earthquake in Kashmir or the mudslide which wiped out a school in the Philippines.

The goal of the two-year programme -- run jointly with the Red Cross and the relief group Action Aid -- is to encourage governments to construct schools that can withstand natural catastrophes, as well as raise youngsters' awareness of the risks and how to react.

"More than 200 million people are affected every year by disasters, and children under 18 are the most vulnerable group, especially those attending schools at the time of the catastrophe," said Salvano Briceno, head of the UN's International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

"Roughly one billion children aged up to 14 years live in countries with high seismic risks, which puts several hundred million children at risk while they are attending schools," he told journalists.

Last year's Kashmir earthquake killed more than 75,000 people and displaced 3.5 million others.

Some 16,000 of the victims were Pakistani youngsters who died in schools that collapsed, noted Briceno.

Last February, a massive mudslide on the Philippine island of Leyte buried more than a thousand people, including more than 200 children in a school.

"These are just a few tragic examples of why more needs to be done to protect children," said Briceno.

The campaign will spotlight best practices around the world and encourage policymakers in other countries to follow them, as well as getting childen, parents, teachers and community leaders involved.

In addition to building new disaster-proof schools -- which adds an average 10 percent to construction costs -- officials should also consider refurbishing exsiting buildings to protect youngsters, said Briceno.

In addition, he said, risk education should be made a standard part of the school curriculum.

"Children need to become aware how to identify risks that are around them. They have to be sensitive to how their houses are built, where their houses are located, where their schools are located and how they are built," said Briceno.

"Becoming aware of risks means they can do something about it."

Such teaching is not only important in catastrophe-prone countries, said Briceno, noting the impact on foreign tourists of the Asian tsunami in December 2004.

That disaster claimed 217,000 lives around the Indian Ocean, including hundreds of tourists.

Knowing what to do could have saved many people, locals and visitors alike, said Briceno.

He pointed to the example of a young British girl, Tilly Smith, who had studied tsumanis in a geography class two weeks before holidaying in Thailand and so recognised the signs of the looming disaster.

She was credited with saving her family and at least 100 others after she raised the alarm.

"The only way we can reduce the number of victims and the negative impact of disasters is when every individual is aware and knows what to do," said Briceno.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links

Hurricane Damage Mininized By Sticking To The Rules
Gaithersburg MD (SPX) Jun 15, 2006
Stricter adherence to existing building standards, model building codes and good building practices, and a greater recognition of the risks posed by storm surge, could minimize the kind of structural damage experienced in the Gulf Coast states hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced on June 9, 2006.

  • UN Launches Campaign For Disaster-Proof Schools
  • Hurricane Damage Mininized By Sticking To The Rules
  • Iridium Partners Introduce Hurricane Equipment And Service Packages
  • ITT Prepares For US Hurricane Season

  • Thawing Permafrost Is A Significant Source Of Carbon
  • Living With Climate Variability And Change
  • Annan Warns Of Poverty And Conflict As Deserts Expand
  • Researcher Offers Insights On Development Of Arid Semiarid Landscapes

  • Cloudsat Flexes Muscles With Alberto
  • Google Announces Major Update For Google Earth
  • Harmful Algal Blooms Monitored From Space In Chile
  • Land Use Mapped In Philippines

  • Rural Kenyan Women On Vanguard Of African Solar Revolution
  • France Boosts Purchase Rates To Spur Renewable Energy
  • Europe Sets Up Task Force for Solar Energy
  • Compact tidal generator Lowers Cost Of Producing Electricity

  • High Virulence Of HIV-1 Might Be An Accident Of Evolution
  • H5N1 Not In US Migratory Birds
  • US Approves Wild Bird Avian Flu Surveillance Network
  • Large-Scale Genomics Project Will Hunt Genes Behind Common Childhood Diseases

  • Recreation Of Butterfly Speciation Event
  • Global Warming Pushes Polar Bears To Cannibalism
  • Butterfly Farming to Help Save Rain Forest
  • Early Bird Caught The Fish

  • Blast At China Chemical Factory Raises Pollution Fears
  • Coal Tar Spillage Contaminates Northern Chinese River
  • Sandia Tool Speeds Up Environmental Cleanup, Reopening Of Contaminated Facilities
  • India Court Allows Toxic Ship Into Territorial Waters

  • To Profit Or Explore Might Be The Meaning Of Life
  • Evidence Human Activities Have Shaped Large-Scale Ecological Patterns
  • Ancient Human Fossils Find Modern Virtual Home
  • Ancient DNA Sequence Allows New Look At Neandertals Diversity

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement