International Day for Disaster Reduction
Wednesday 10 October
10 October 2007

Nearly three years ago, Governments adopted the Hyogo Framework -- a plan of action to reduce our collective vulnerability to natural hazards. Today, as we commemorate World Disaster Reduction Day, recent calamities around the world -- including floods, storms, and droughts -- continue to remind us of the devastating effects of natural

hazards,as well as the potentially harmful effects of a warming planet.  The need to engage fully in disaster risk reduction has never been more pressing.

Disaster risk reduction is about stronger building codes, sound land use planning, better early warning systems, environmental management and evacuation plans and, above all, education. It is about making communities and individuals aware of their risk to natural hazards and how they can reduce their vulnerability.

We have a moral, social and economic obligation to act now in building resilient communities and nations.  Last year saw the launch of a global awareness campaign entitled “Disaster risk reduction begins at schools”. Its aims to mobilize Governments, communities and individuals in making disaster risk an integral part of school curricula, while ensuring that school buildings are built or retrofitted to withstand natural hazards.  
Disaster reduction is everybody’s business. All of us can do our part to raise awareness and reduce our vulnerability to future hazards. I urge all concerned -- Governments, civil society and the private sector, international financial institutions and other international organizations -- to invest in disaster reduction and to step up implementation of the Hyogo Framework, with concrete measures to reduce vulnerability. On this International Day, let us renew our dedication to this mission.

GO to ISDR Website
2006-2007 World Disaster Reduction Campaign
Activities around the world

Roundtable Discussion
Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School


Local Risk and Disaster Management Strengthening in the Education Sector in Central America

International Day flyer English
What is the International Day for Disaster Reduction?

For more information
please contact

Tze Ming Mok
World Disaster Reduction Campaign
“Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School”, aims to inform and mobilize Governments, communities and individuals to ensure that disaster risk reduction is fully integrated into school curricula in high risk countries and that school buildings are built or retrofitted to withstand natural hazards. The Campaign’s key partners include UNESCO, UNICE, ActionAid International, the IFRC, and the ISDR’s thematic cluster on knowledge and education.
Towards a Culture of Prevention: Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School.
Good Practices and Lessons Learned

This publication is part of ongoing efforts made under the theme “Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School”, a theme selected for the World Disaster Reduction Campaign 2006-2007 coordinated by the UN/ISDR secretariat in cooperation with the UNESCO.

Schools are the best venues for sowing collective values, the World Campaign, therefore, promotes two major initiatives: (1) making school buildings safer; and (2) mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into school curricula.

ISDR On-line Video Game
The new on line game called “Stop Disasters” aims at sensitizing children on basic notions of disaster risk reduction in a fun and entertaining manner. Its main objective is to raise awareness about the issue but does not pretend to educate children on all the aspects of disaster risk reduction issues. The game is also supported by a website offering more information and teacher guides on natural hazards.

“Children will be one day the mayors, the architects and the decision makers of the world of tomorrow. If we teach them what they can do from the early age they will build a safer world.”
Salvano Briceño
Director, UN/ISDR secretariat

Disaster Risk Reduction
Begins at School
Information Kit

PDF format: 7 MB
English - Français- Español

To facilitate the Campaign, UN/ISDR secretariat produced an information kit. The Thematic Platform on Knowledge and Education and its partners launched the publication entitled "Let Our Children Teach Us! - A review of the Role of Education and Knowledge in Disaster Risk Reduction”.
For more information 

We must keep our children safe
On the eve of International Day for Disaster Reduction, Salvano Briceño puts a challenge to the world’s education authorities

Sálvano Briceño
Our most precious investments are little things, easily damaged, always in need of protection, but of limitless potential value. So why do we risk the most important capital of all: our children’s lives? Tomorrow is the International Day for Disaster Reduction (October 10, 2007) and it seems an appropriate moment to ask a vital question: why do we put children’s lives at risk in those places we should expect to be most safe: their schools?

In the last few years tens of thousands of children have perished because their schools did not protect them: they died in earthquakes, floods, windstorms, mudslides and wildfires. They died because their schools were not built properly, or on the right kind of land, or high enough above the flood plain, or designed to survive the most likely natural hazard. The fragile bodies recovered from the wreckage of a fallen school represent not just a human tragedy but evidence of thoughtlessness or needless ignorance in the communities around them.

So the UNESCO and UN international secretariat for disaster reduction have, for the last two years, led a world-wide effort to make schools safer, and to make them places to begin education about safety, resilience and risk reduction. (The UN ISDR launched last year a biennial campaign under the theme “Disaster Risk reduction Begins at Schools” with two main objectives: to make school safer and to integrate disaster risk reduction into school curricula).

What could make more sense? First, protect the children for the hours of every day in which they are all together. Then begin to teach them how to think ahead, how to react when danger threatens: what to do when the ground begins to shake, where to run when the river bursts its banks, where to take shelter during a hurricane or typhoon and how to develop a culture of prevention.

And because lessons learnt at school are taken home every night, the education continues. Parents – struggling to make ends meet, to ensure security, to provide for their children’s education and future – themselves begin to learn another lesson: that awareness of natural hazard is itself an investment in the future. This is because it helps to secure the family against natural dangers, and reduce the risks of future disaster. If parents become interested in safety at school, then the pressure begins to build upon the elected politicians and the local civic authorities to take steps to make sure that all schools become safe, and all children become aware of ways to secure their own safety when the skies darken, or the ground begins to tremble.

That, at least, is the principle. So far, 55 countries have enrolled, so to speak, in the UN’s two-year campaign to take disaster reduction directly to the classroom. More than 20 countries report “highly visible” successes in pioneering initiatives to bring disaster awareness to the schools, both by using local knowledge to make the buildings safer, and by taking the subject itself into the classroom. For instance, an earthquake safety programme that began in one school as an experiment eight years ago last year involved 14 million students and 130,000 schools in Iran. In India, 100,000 students, 2,500 teachers, and 200 schools have school disaster management plans. There are lessons in disaster reduction being conducted in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, the Republic of Congo and 10 other African countries. There are been lessons to mark the International Day for Disaster Reduction in at least 18 nations in the Americas.

All these things sound encouraging, but there is a long way to go. Nowhere in the world is completely safe: children died and schools were destroyed by Hurricane Felix in the Gulf of Mexico in September, children were at risk during Peru’s earthquake in June, communities were threatened in Greece in August by uncontrollable forest fires. More than 50 countries have launched school safety programmes, but we should remember that 168 countries agreed the Hyogo Framework in 2005, in the aftermath of the catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26, to build disaster risk reduction and a culture of prevention into their communities at every level. Where better to start than the schools?

The benefits could be huge. At the most basic level, steps to make schools stronger will save young lives. Steps to teach children safety drills will serve as a kind of invisible life insurance, not just at school but at home. And simple lessons in the realities of earthquakes, windstorms, floods and fires will also provide the beginnings of instruction in the wider fields of geography, economics, environmental science, physics, and engineering. Disaster awareness need not be a very expensive lesson, but whatever it costs, the price is nothing, when set against the loss of a school full of children, buried alive in a mudslide, or crushed by falling masonry. We all still have a lot to learn.

What is the International Day for Disaster Reduction?

In 1989, the United Nations General Assembly designated the second Wednesday of October International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction (resolution 44/236, 22 December 1989). The International Day was observed annually during the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, 1990-1999.

In 2001, the General Assembly decided to maintain the observance of the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction (resolution 56/195, 21 December 2001), as a vehicle to promote a global culture of natural disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

Let Our Children
Teach Us!

- French

Lessons for life
Building a culture of safety and
resilience to disasters
through schools


SCHOOL SAFETY - A Film on Disaster Preparedness in Schools

The film on SESIS (School Earthquake Safety Initiative, Shimla) is a portrayal of a community based approach to risk reduction through school safety. The film captures the SESIS project, wherein school safety was translated into simple processes that made school buildings safer, reduced the risk of falling hazards, and educated students, teachers, officials and parents on how to act when an earthquake strikes. A simple and small step of making schools safer is now snowballing into a community safety programme, further triggering the inclusion of community based approaches in disaster management planing. The SESIS story is still unfolding in the Himalayan region of India.