In earthquake-prone Kyrgyzstan, an exercise to keep children safe

Earthquakes are one of the most acute disaster risks in Kyrgyzstan. Children in the country’s northern Talas province are taking part in an emergency exercise to prepare them for the worst.

By Sven G. Simonsen
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UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Sven G. Simonsen

02 November 2017

In earthquake-prone Kyrgyzstan, an exercise to keep children safe

It’s early morning at the school named after Ch. Aitmatov, in Amanbaevo village in Kyrgyzstan’s western Talas province. Twelve hundred girls and boys are getting ready for an emergency exercise initiated by UNICEF and the local branch of the Ministry of Emergency.

 

It’s early morning at the school named after Ch. Aitmatov, in Amanbaevo village in Kyrgyzstan’s western Talas province. Twelve hundred girls and boys are getting ready for an emergency exercise initiated by UNICEF and the local branch of the Ministry of Emergency.
UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Sven G. Simonsen

At this school, children are now actively involved in emergency  preparedness from an early age. Response committees have been set up to clarify who does what in case of emergencies. The committees include not only teachers and other staff, but also pupils.

Earthquakes are one of the most acute disaster risks in Kyrgyzstan. In Talas province, 13 earthquakes have been registered in the last year. This exercise will simulate an earthquake emergency.
UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Sven G. Simonsen

Earthquakes are one of the most acute disaster risks in Kyrgyzstan. In Talas province, 13 earthquakes have been registered in the last year. This exercise will simulate an earthquake emergency.

The alarm has sounded, and the schoolchildren are heading out.
UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Sven G. Simonsen

The alarm has sounded, and the schoolchildren are heading out. 

Last year, when a quite strong earthquake hit, both children and adults panicked. Steps taken since then, and today’s exercise, ensure that next time it’s for real, the pupils and staff will react in the best possible way.

UNICEF Kyrgyzstan has been working with DIPECHO – the Disaster Preparedness programme of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department – for the last six years. The partnership was renewed earlier this year. With DIPECHO funding, UNICEF has supported the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic on disaster risk reduction (DRR) in education, and child-centered disaster risk analysis.

When a drawing contest was announced for the International DRR Day, the schoolchildren themselves decided that their drawings would be about emergencies.
UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Sven G. Simonsen

When a drawing contest was announced for the International DRR Day, the schoolchildren themselves decided that their drawings would be about emergencies. 

The school named after Ch. Aitmatov already teaches the children emergency awareness. But putting the theory into practice made this exercise particularly useful, says school director Dinara Nuralieva.
UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Bermet Moltaeva

The school named after Ch. Aitmatov already teaches the children emergency awareness. But putting the theory into practice made this exercise particularly useful, says school director Dinara Nuralieva. 

‘Now we all know how to act, and who will save our lives if there is an earthquake’, says 12-year-old Aida (far left), one of the drawing contest participants.
UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Sven G. Simonsen

‘Now we all know how to act, and who will save our lives if there is an earthquake’, says 12-year-old Aida (far left), one of the drawing contest participants.

It’s a team competition in first aid, and Gulyazat (15) demonstrates how she’d stabilize teammate Siymyk’s (15) broken arm.
UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Sven G. Simonsen

It’s a team competition in first aid, and Gulyazat (15) demonstrates how she’d stabilize teammate Siymyk’s (15) broken arm. 

Chynara Jumakadyrova, representing the Ministry of Emergency, is one of the driving forces of the exercise. At the end, she distributes educational materials for classrooms. Will the children be safer for today’s exercise? ‘Without question!’ she assures.
UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Sven G. Simonsen

Chynara Jumakadyrova, representing the Ministry of Emergency, is one of the driving forces of the exercise. At the end, she distributes educational materials for classrooms. Will the children be safer for today’s exercise? ‘Without question!’ she assures. 

The emergency exercise over, and it’s time to return to the classrooms.
UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2016/Sven G. Simonsen

The emergency exercise over, and it’s time to return to the classrooms.

For UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of  Emergency and the Ministry of Education and Science, work continues on the DIPECHO engagement, with the long-term goal to produce child sensitive DRR plans at the local level, in Kyrgyzstan as well as in five other countries in Central Asia and the South Caucasus.