Getting better prepared for the hurricane season
Caribbean safe school programme enhancing resilience
BARBADOS – 28 June 2020 – Having faced the fury of Hurricane Irma nearly three years ago, 11-year-old Khorey Barrett is determined that his school and community will be better prepared this time around. But this year, hurricanes are not alone: displacement, infrastructure damage and service interruption caused by storms, particularly in coastal areas, could leave children and families more vulnerable to the COVID19 disease and its impacts.
For one thing, the student at the Morris Vanterpool Primary School says while they were largely unprepared for the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, the training he and his peers received under the Safe Schools Programming positions his school and community to better weather tropical systems in the future.
“For this year my family will have hurricane shutters…I’m going to make sure there are no projectiles that can fly, and we will make sure to have food stocked up for the season,” he says.
UNICEF and partners, including governments and key ministries, embarked on the implementation of programmes which concentrated on giving children and their families the tools to better cope with emergencies and disasters, reduce vulnerability and strengthen the resiliency of education systems to minimize the impact of disasters.
A key element of the initiative was the development of school emergency preparedness plans and training of both teachers and students in disaster risk reduction.
When doing disaster risk management training, the students mapped their school compound, noting hazards and vulnerability, as well as assessed capacity, using 3D brick models among other tools. In the disaster risk management process schools were highlighted as the centre of the community and the children encouraged to take their newly gained knowledge home with them.
Major steps were taken to complete plans and training in countries throughout the Eastern Caribbean Area. Stakeholders in Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis now also have more knowledge and , skills in conducting a comprehensive assessment of schools using the Model Safe School Programme Toolkit through collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency in roll-out of its Model Safe School Training programme.