Education for disaster risk reduction and social cohesion

Ensuring uninterrupted, safe and quality education for children affected by natural disasters and towards social cohesion.

Students take part in an earthquake evacuation drill outside their classroom in eastern Indian state of Bihar.
UNICEF/2017/Dhiraj

Children are extremely vulnerable during emergencies, including natural disasters. India is among the world’s most disaster-prone countries and is prone to yearly flooding, landslides, droughts and storms. The frequency and pervasiveness of natural disasters and climate change in India puts a large number of children at risk.  

With the increase in environmental degradation, climate change and unplanned development, there is a rise in occurrence of disasters. This has serious implications for such a highly populous Country, where there are also a large number of people that rely on agriculture and at risk.   

When a disaster strikes in India the Government of India and/or the state governments lead in the emergency response. At the invitation of government UNICEF provides technical support, often in collaboration with other UN agencies and partners, and focuses on its ongoing programmatic areas. 

After any natural disaster or crisis UNICEF’s first priority is always the immediate needs of those who are suffering, but we also plan for long-term restoration. Providing education is a first step in getting countries back on the path to development, a step that can help restore even the most wounded societies. Education is not only an end in itself, it is part of an ongoing solution.  

Educational institutions are a repository of a society’s knowledge, values and traditions, which serve to bind people together as they work to improve their country’s future. Disasters, emergencies, conflict and violence have a profound impact on children, and education has the potential to provide knowledge and skills needed to promote a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.   

In India UNICEF advocates for mechanisms of care, safety and psycho-social support for young children and the provision for relevant quality educational options for youth, particularly those out-of-school and within the contexts of conflict and war. We support state governments through our field offices to ensure the continuity of education during and after emergencies.  

We promote the SAARC Comprehensive School Safety Framework and we support comprehensive school safety programmes across India towards increasing resilience.