Improving DRR Preparedness: Adults Learn from Children

Thursday 16 July 2015

Disasters come suddenly, but once we are prepared for them, the damage caused by the disasters can be reduced to the minimum.

This was the slogan of students of school #38 in Gyumri, Armenia, involved in Child to Child classes aimed at disaster risk reduction (DRR).

“We learned very useful and important tips on how to prepare for and respond to disasters through trainings, games, discussions and drills,” said Izabella, participant of Child to Child group organized within the framework of ECHO-funded Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Project -2. “We learned about the right behavior during disasters as well as what we need to do to prepare for possible disasters.”

Gyumri town was badly damaged during the devastating earthquake in Armenia in 1988 which took the lives of more than 25,000 people, among them many children.

Gohar Shahbazyan, School Principal said: “Information is vital for saving lives. During this project, we realized the right and wrong things that we did during the earthquake in 1988, and learned what we should do to avoid doing fatal mistakes in the future.”

 Izabella, 13, together with her classmate and teacher, advising community people on the correct placement of furniture to reduce the adverse effects of possible disasters“We found it important to share our knowledge with our friends, families and the community,” Izabella said. “We organized discussions with our peers and parents and visited dozens of families in the town to teach them the DOs and DON’Ts during disaster and to help them to better prepare for disasters.” For example, they advised to change the places of home furniture, if needed.

Children also urged their parents to make necessary changes in their houses. “At first, my father was against my staying at school after the classes, but when I let him know why I do, he not only welcomed my initiative but also fixed the wardrobe to the wall in our sleeping room and removed some pictures from the walls,” Izabella said.

The school benefitted from the project as well. Alarm system, evacuation signs and first aid kits were provided, and the exit doors were renovated. Moreover, with the request of Child to Child group participants, stretchers, loud speakers and torches were provided too. Earthquake and fire evacuation drills were organized.

The Principal said: “I am proud to state that thanks to our children’s commitment and Save the Children’s work, our school and the families residing nearby it are well aware of the right behaviour during disasters and will be able to perform properly if disaster occurs.”

Just like this school, 60 other educational institutions, including inclusive schools, kindergartens and special institutions were involved in the Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Project -2. 18,500 children with and without disabilities and 3,500 teachers/caregivers directly benefitted from it.