UNICEF SAYS DISASTER RISK REDUCTION SHOULD BE AN INTEGRAL PART OF EDUCATION
YEREVAN, 26 July 2011 – UNICEF, Oxfam GB Armenia and the Armenian Red Cross Society presented today final results and achievements of the Regional Programme for Disaster Risk Management that kicked off in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia last April.
"The South Caucasus is highly exposed to natural hazards and their dangerous consequences. The area of Armenia, in particular, is prone to natural disasters including earthquakes, floods, landslides, mudflows, as well as avalanches. The earthquake in Spitak is one of the devastating examples. Hence, in order to build a culture of safety and resilience among the population and the authorities in the South Caucasus, the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO) has launched a particular DIPECHO programme for the region. In the South Caucasus, a total of EUR 2,000,000 has been dedicated to DIPECHO projects in 2010" said Onno Simons, Chargé d’Affaires of the EU Delegation to Armenia.
In Armenia, the above organisations have been implementing the programme in 4 marzes in partnership with the key stakeholders, including the Ministries of Emergency Situations and Education, the State Academy of Crisis Management, the National Institute of Education and the Armenian Rescue Service.
The UNICEF component of the programme puts special emphasis on inclusion of disaster risk reduction into the education process and building a culture of safety and resilience at all levels of education. Among key achievements of the programme is the integration of Disaster Risk Reduction into the State Programme of Education Development for 2011-2015 as well as the State Standards of General Education.
To raise awareness and strengthen capacity at pre-school and school-level, special trainings were organized for 96 teachers from 24 pre-schools and schools in Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor, Shirak and Aragatsotn marzes based on specially designed teaching and learning material. In addition, around 4,000 children and school children participated in special classes on disaster risk reduction and preparedness organized by trained teachers.
All 24 schools in 4 selected marzes were equipped with firefighting tools and other basic emergency equipment and Disaster Risk Reduction teams composed of 4 teachers and 6 children were set up at each school and pre-school.
“Community participation and education is necessary to make mitigation and disaster preparedness work. The proven way to educate the public and get your citizens involved in disaster response and preparedness activities is through locally-based initiatives. The schools and pre-schools have a central role in this respect,“ UNICEF Representative Laylee Moshiri emphasized.
The programme also helped to create a depository of all materials related to Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness as a point of knowledge and data sharing. The depository includes a wealth of publicly accessible print, video and electronic materials and data that can be useful in developing various programmes and activities geared at strengthening disaster management.
With the help of the Emergency Channel, a state-run TV programme covering emergency situations, 8 advocacy events were organized in 4 selected marzes.
Throughout the entire programme, UNICEF has been actively advocating for establishing a sustainable mechanism on full integration of disaster risk reduction in education. “We are happy to say today that a separate National Coordination Board for Disaster Risk Reduction in Education will be established within the Disaster Risk Reduction National Platform to address three main components for preschools and schools: infrastructures, curriculum and Disaster Risk Reduction management”, UNICEF Representative noted, adding that “building a culture of safety and resilience to disasters should start from early years of life, from kindergartens and continue through school years.”