Floods in the region indicate the importance of emergency preparedness in cases of natural hazardsPODGORICA, May 30, 2014 - Floods in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia reminded us how important it is to be prepared for such situations. For this reason, UNICEF supports education of children and builds up the capacity of the education system at large regarding the reduction of risks caused by natural hazards.
"I think the whole of Montenegro has been moved and touched by the images we have received from Bosnia and Serbia, of people whose world was really turned upside down with the floods, particularly the children and the vulnerables. I think the first lesson that we learned is importance of insuring the children's physical health is protected after a flood. It is very imortant that their parents and other adults in their life remain strong and stabile, because that will help children to cope with the trauma of that situation", said Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Montenegro Representative.
In 2013, Bureau of Education and the Ministry of Interior - Directorate for Emergency Situations and Civil Security, in cooperation with UNICEF, started implementation of an initiative titled “Emergency Preparedness, Response and Disaster Risk Reduction in Montenegro”, with the aim to provide necessary knowledge to students and teachers and offer explanations on how to act in order to reduce the impact of natural disasters.
In five selected pilot schools in Ulcinj, Berane, Bar, Kotor and Podgorica vulnerability risk assessments and Action plans had been prepared by group of experts and in close cooperation and participation of children, teachers and parents.
"Before of all these activities we conducted a research in these five schools with students and parents, where we wanted to find out what their needs are. We came to conclusion that it is necessary to introduce a school program they could study, which was concluded by large number of students and parents. Also, schools are not appropriately prepared for emergency situations. It is also very important for parents to participate and engage in preventive and corrective action when it comes to emergencies", explained Radoje Novović, Head of the Sector for research and development of education system in the Bureau of Education.
In the second phase of the initiative, a curriculum on natural hazards and disaster risk reduction is developed for grades IV – IX and adopted by the National Council for Education. Preparedness and prevention plans, primarily developed for five schools through this initiative, will hopefully be a model to be used by other schools in Montenegro. The school administration and teachers have already received precise instructions on how to proceed in the disaster risk reduction programme.
"We did not stop on that. As a part of routine verification of the quality of education insitutions, and therefore the primary schools, The Bureau for Education will control and monitor how the programme is being implemented, and how much the students are studing that kind of content“, Novović concluded.
The Disaster Risk Reduction programme, which focuses primarily on education sector, is enhancing national policies and capacities to better implement and integrate elements of risk reduction within existing education curricula, training of teachers, as well as day-to-day management of schools.
The Director of Directorate for Emergency Situations, Ljuban Tmušić said that it is extremely important to talk with children from their earliest age about emergency situations and raise the level of knowledge and awareness about it. "Evacuation exercises were the most concrete and most educative, since children were able to see what they should do first when earthquake occur. That means they need to be positioned in the fetal position under the bench, and when it's over to line up in a column, and wait close to the exit door, and then in coordination with the teachers to leave out. This is very important and those are specific activities which will be realized in the Resource centres and Children's home in Bijela, in order to show to the population how to take specific measures for protection and rescue“.
In the past few weeks, UNICEF has been very active in flood response in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, providing vital equipments as part of the overall UN operation plan of support.
We also work here in Montenegro and in many of the neighbouring countries on building up the resilience and the strategy of the education sector and the social protection sector in partnership with the Ministry of Interior, to ensure that they are well prepared. That teachers and other public sector professionals and children are trained and prepared of what to do in event of the eartquake or flood or any other type of natural disaster. To have system in place that everybody is aware of, so if something happens everybody knows what to do and what their role is. All of that knowlege is taking back into the community, to schools, and other public service instutions, so the wider community can be aware what to do in the event of the natural disaster, to protect children, their families and the wider community“, concluded UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks.In 2014, Disaster Risk Reduction work will focus on most vulnerable children - children with disabilities and children residing in state care institutions. Risk assessments will be done for the three Resource Centers, Home for Children Without Parental Care in Bijela, and the municipality of Berane, with special focus on Roma settlement.