The Importance of School Based Disaster Risk Reduction

The vulnerabilities of Nepal have been exposed by the 2015 earthquake as well as the more recent tragic flooding in different areas of the Tarai region. Nepal is regarded as one of the countries most vulnerable to disasters and over the years, it has been the victim of various disasters ranging from small to massive natural disasters. Over 9,000 recorded deaths and millions of injured or displaced people can be linked to the massive natural disasters.

The effects of these disasters have also been a major factor in the socio-economic development of the country, causing it to have a somewhat stunted growth. The earthquakes witnessed in the country has had major effects on all sectors of in the country, however, it seems like the educational sector has taken the hardest hit. Over 35,000 classrooms have been recorded as damaged and this has affected the education of about 1 million kids.

There is an increased need for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) education in the school sectors because of the massive impacts it has felt over the past few years as a result of the earthquakes, landslides and floods it has had to face. DRR will be a great way to reduce the impacts because it will help promote resilience as well as save lives and properties.

It’s known that children are always the ones who suffer the most in cases of natural disasters. Over 38,000 students died in the Haiti disaster. The Pakistani earthquake of 2005, which saw the collapse of over 10,000 schools, also recorded over 17,000 student deaths. DRR was lacking in both states and this shows that the absence of DRR friendly schools makes the casualties of disasters more and the recovery a lot harder and takes more time.

Impact of DRR
The reluctance of appropriate authorities to reconstruct the damaged schools after the 2015 disaster further hampered the continuation of education. 8,353 schools were damaged in the 2015 disaster and two years on, only 1,662 schools have been reconstructed. This shortage in schools implies that lots of kids are still being deprived the opportunity to get proper education. With the high number of kids deprived of their right to education, the risk of socio-economic vices on a large scale is imminent. Kids who drop out from school are always at the risk of violence, trafficking, exploitation, neglect and psychological trauma. The prospects of the children and that of the country as a whole are affected by the prolonged disruption of education.

In most cases after disasters, priority is often placed on basic necessities such as food, shelter and clean water. Schools are often neglected and are only afforded little attention as time goes on.

Over the last 10 years or there about, the concept of DRR hasn’t been taught to the public, neither has there been enough emphasis on sector specific management. An education crisis might be the end result of the impact of disaster on the education sector. Statistics have shown that a significant number of kids who spend a long period out of school after a disaster never make it back to the classroom. It is true that re-investment is a difficult task, however, it is crucial that major steps be taken to ensure the return of these kids to the classrooms.

The progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is restricted as a result of the losses in education. As a result of this, it is crucial that efforts are geared towards disaster preparedness. Also, response measures should be set up such that education doesn’t have to suffer so much in the event of a natural disaster.

The safety of schools is important and DRR aims at reducing the vulnerability to, and impact of disasters on schools. It prepares both teachers and students for potential disasters, thereby reducing the impact of said disaster. If the students can then transfer the knowledge to members of their families, it becomes general knowledge and the community can prepare as well.

A school with adequate plan for disaster management, which was prepared through a participatory technique and properly integrated into the policies and plans of the community as a whole has major advantages over schools that don’t. The level of effective management of disaster might be solely dependent on this plan.

The resilience of buildings is not all that is referred to when talking about disaster management; other factors such as proper linkage with services like the fire service, police departments, health posts, carrying on with education through temporary learning systems after the occurrence of a disaster as well as the use of extracurricular activities and use of DRR to ensure a higher survival potential for victims of natural disaster. The DRR is regarded as the most cost effective method of mitigating the impacts of a disaster.

Furthermore, the SDG which includes quality education and the importance of safeguarding the education sector for the long haul will not be affected. In simpler terms, schools referred to as resilient schools are those braced for the impact of disasters, such that there will be reduced disruption, less impact on school infrastructure, plans for educational continuity and the preservation of lives.

Institutional framework
The government has taken some steps within the last 10 years towards the reduction with legal, policy and institutional framework. Some significant steps have been taken in the right direction and they include founding the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management and the National Response Framework in 2009 and 2013 respectively as well as the inclusion of DRR in the constitution. The School Sector Development Plan has included DRR into its program and more importance has been placed on schools. These are significant steps in the right direction; however, more needs to be done. The policies have to be strengthened and the effective implementation of DRR has to be improved alongside disaster risk management capacity of schools.

Nepal is a signatory to several global and regional DRR related commitment and more significantly, it is a member of the United Nations and these implies that they have committed themselves to addressing such issues. The role of kids in reducing risk and the safety of schools are crucial points which received more attention in the adaptation of the Scendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) at the UN world conference on DRR.

The authorities have made and are still making more strides to get better safety for children and as such, they are integrating and implementing 3 pillars of comprehensive school safety framework into its policies and education plans. This implies that there will better consideration for DRR and the education stakeholders will be coordinated better.

As the country is making strides towards reconstruction and repairs in many sectors, making DRR a priority is a move that can only lead to better safety for schools and education, and this in turn strengthens the resilience of the community at large.