UNICEF holds Central Asian seminar on disaster risk reduction
A two-day Central Asian regional seminar was held in Almaty on 25-26 March 2009 on disaster risk reduction and education organized jointly by UNICEF and the UN International Strategy for Risk Reduction (ISDR). This regional event brought together senior government officials, experts and practitioners and international partners from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The Central Asian regional seminar was organized within UNICEF’s project “Supporting disaster risk reduction amongst vulnerable communities in Central Asia”, co-funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). As part of this project, UNICEF is working in three Central Asian countries with the aim to improve the skills and knowledge of children to mitigate and prepare for potential disaster events caused by natural hazards, such as earthquakes, floods, avalanches and mudslides. One of the strategies is to integrate DRR into existing national school curriculums. UNICEF aims to reach close to 380,000 schoolchildren and their teachers in the region with basic awareness raising information and materials, including booklets, posters, brochures, board-games and similar. In selected schools UNICEF will, in close cooperation with the central governments, the local authorities and school administration, assist in risk mapping, developing school preparedness plans, setting-up school emergency brigades and organizing emergency drills.
In Kazakhstan, the project will focus to address the specific natural hazards and risks that the country is prone to. The most threatening are earthquakes, floods, mudflows and landslides. In the view of this, 2,000 teachers and 50,000 schoolchildren will be reached with relevant information and materials providing them with knowledge and skills to protect themselves, their families and communities in times of disasters. UNICEF will be also working with national institutions, the Ministry for Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, to develop policies and practices to make schools a safer environment for children in Kazakhstan.
A key contribution of the project will be the identification, collection, compilation and dissemination of the best practices, case studies and lessons learned from the individual countries in Central Asian region to the global pool of knowledge on DRR and education.
The conference introduced participants to the Hyogo Framework for Action, International Strategy to Disaster Reduction system and linkages between Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Education. In particular, the conference was aimed at drawing attention to the issues of DRR in the sphere of education as part of the Hyogo Framework for Action. The seminar provided an opportunity for discussions and coming up with the recommendations on disaster preparedness and mitigation issues in the education sector. Within the framework of the seminar, participants shared information and experience, and, in particular, a round table debate facilitated the dialogue on the subject matter.
The Central Asian regional seminar is to lay an important foundation for improving existing governmental strategies and documents on disaster risk reduction in the region with a particular focus on education.
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