Essential Seven: Training, Education and Public Awareness
If citizens are to take part in the collective responsibility of creating disaster-resilient cities, training, education and public awareness are critical (these must also be incorporated into all Ten Essentials). The entire community must know about the hazards and risks to which they are exposed if they are to be better prepared and take measures to cope with potential disasters. Awareness, education and capacity building programs on disaster risk and mitigation measures are key for mobilizing citizen participation in the city’s disaster risk reduction strategies. This will improve preparedness and help citizens respond to local early warnings.
Raise public awareness in the city
- Conduct and promote a public awareness campaign on citizen safety and disaster risk reduction, with messages on local hazards and risk and steps the city is taking to mitigate and manage these, including the potential effects of climate change.
- Encourage local citizens’ groups, schools, the mass media and the private sector to join/support the global Campaign by spreading awareness of these messages.
Integrate disaster risk reduction into formal education programmes
- Work with educational authorities, professors, students and advocates to include disaster risk reduction at all levels of the school curriculum and in all public and private institutions.
- Seek necessary technical support for curriculum development from related institutions and agencies. Collect and learn from past experiences.
Develop risk reduction training and capacity building at the city level
- Establish a sustainable and permanent training program for key city personnel, in partnership with communities, a variety of professionals from the social and economic sector and specialized local and national institutions. Work with local resources such as the Red Cross, universities, NGOs, teachers and others.
- Focus on training priority target groups such as municipal departments and emergency management authorities, fire and rescue services, medical emergency teams and law enforcement personnel, specialists in engineering, water and sanitation, surveying, planning and zoning, environment, health, communications, the media, the private sector, community leaders and educators. Distribute this Handbook and other guidance material, offering short courses and ongoing training opportunities.
Establish city-wide disaster safety initiatives
- Commemorate the anniversary of locally memorable disasters with a ‘disaster safety day,’ a time when people are very receptive to safety messages.
- Establish a memorial in the city and/or organize a small exhibition/disaster museum to preserve the memory of the impact of past disasters.
- Find creative new ways to participate in the International Day for Disaster Reduction, celebrated each year on 13th October, and in other related events such as World Meteorological Day, World Health Day, World Habitat Day and events commemorating major national disasters.
Watch and Learn: Children and Communities Study Mountain and Urban Risks
As early as kindergarten, schools in Japan are educating children about how to detect and react in disaster situations, conducting regular drills and ‘disaster watches’. This long-time investment undoubtedly saved many lives in the March 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. In 2004, Saijo City, Japan was hit by record typhoons that caused ﬂooding in urban areas and landslides in the mountains. Saijo City’s aging population represents a particular problem. Young able-bodied people are very important to community systems of mutual aid and emergency preparedness. As young people move away to bigger cities, the population of smaller towns in Japan grows older than the already imbalanced national average. Small cities like Saijo City are also often spread over a mix of geographic terrains – an urban plain, semi-rural and isolated villages on hills and mountains or along the coast. To meet these challenges, the Saijo City government began a risk-awareness programme, targeting school children. Focusing on the city’s physical environment, the ‘mountain-watching’ and ‘town-watching’ project takes 12-year-olds on risk education ﬁeld trips. Young urban dwellers meet with the elderly to learn together about the risks facing Saijo City faces and to remember the lessons of the 2004 typhoons. A ‘mountain- and town-watching’ handbook has been developed, and a teachers’ association for disaster education and a children’s disaster prevention club have been set up.
For more information: http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/publications/13627 (page 29)
Disaster Safety Days Commemorate Anniversaries of Past Events
In Nepal, 15th January marks the anniversary of the great Nepal earthquake of 1934. In Kathmandu, political leaders and prominent personalities commemorate the event with activities such as street parades, shake table demonstrations, exhibitions on safe construction, street drama, interactive seminars, posters, art and other competitions and presentations for children. Earthquake simulation drills are the highlight of the observance, with wide public participation and media coverage. The national and city governments have a strong sense of ownership of and leadership in the event.
Japan observes Disaster Safety Day each year on 1st September, the anniversary of the great Kanto earthquake of 1923. Each year, many students visit the Earthquake Memorial Museum in Kobe , built on the experience of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 18 January 1995.
China has established 12th May as its National Disaster Safety Day, commemorating the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008. The cities of Ratnapura, Sri Lanka and Dagupan, Philippines also observe disaster safety days on anniversaries of local historic events.
For more information on how cities and others celebrate the International Day for Disaster reduction, see: www.unisdr.org/iddr
Tools and Resources
Town Watching Handbook for Disaster Education: Enhancing Experiential Learning – European Union; Kyoto University; UNISDR Asia and Pacific (2009)
A handbook to facilitate the engagement of school children and communities in risk reduction activities.
Strengthening Institutional Capacity Development for CBDRM - Q & A Guide for Local Authorities in Asia – ADPC, UNESCAP, ECHO
FAQs on disaster risk reduction in land use planning.
UNISDR Asia Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction for Local Authorities – ADPC, UNESCAP, European Commission Humanitarian Aid (2006)
http://tinyurl.com/cs4jkhc A workbook to build capacity to implement community-based disaster risk management.
- Town Watching Handbook for Disaster Education: Enhancing Experiential Learning – European Union; Kyoto University; UNISDR Asia and Pacific (2009)
Focus on people-to-people communication; involve children and youth in hands-on learning activities; use credible and influential spokespersons to serve as safety and disaster risk reduction advocates and learn from documented good practices from other cities/programs.