Learning from today’s disasters for tomorrow’s hazards
2004 World Disaster Reduction Campaign
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The theme of this year’s World Disaster Reduction Campaign is “learning”.
Learning to live with the risks that hazards pose to communities is one of the key ways to protect people and property from the disastrous impacts of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and volcanoes. Learning can take place through formal education such as in schools and universities, or informal groups and networks such as community meetings and advocacy activities.

Fostering a culture of prevention from a young age

One of the best times to instil learning about the risks and vulnerabilities associated with hazards is at an early age. Young people represent the future; if we are to ensure that they live in disaster-resilient societies, they need to be aware of those hazards that threaten them, their families and their friends, and be familiar with what can be done to reduce their negative consequences.

As young people grow and experience life, they absorb much about the environment in which they live, often generating interest in what part they play in ensuring a sustainable future for themselves, their children, and their children’s children. Their involvement in disaster reduction is therefore essential to increase the long-term resilience of communities.

“Everybody, including children and elderly people, should know about earthquakes. Particularly, school children should know about how to survive from earthquakes.

I think that it is our right to know about earthquakes. This is because when an earthquake comes everybody including our parent, teachers will try to save their own lives. At that time they may not take care of us. So we ourselves need to know what to do during earthquakes.”

Sony, school girl in Kathmandu (Nepal)


Community empowerment through learning

Public awareness and understanding are key components in the achievement of disaster risk reduction. Learning about how to minimise risk and vulnerability to disasters encourages people to take the initiative to prevent, mitigate and prepare for a potential disaster.

When young people learn about disaster reduction at school, they are in the powerful position of sharing what they are taught in class with their families and friends. As a result, the entire community can learn and benefit from the knowledge of how they can best reduce disaster impacts, potentially saving lives and property.