By Yuki Matsuoka and Etsuko Okazaki
KOBE, 17 October 2011 - Recognizing the importance of risk reduction, the Japanese city of Saijo, located in Ehime prefecture on Shikoku Island, expanded their disaster risk reduction (DRR) education program to train children and young people to be future leaders in DRR. On 14 October, a lecture program was organized as part of celebrations of the International Day for Disaster Reduction and the Saijo Festival to further strengthen the community ties and bonds, i.e., “mutual help” for DRR in the city.
The expanded DRR education program targets 227 students in the second year of Saijo Kita Municipal Junior High School, the largest junior high school in the city.
The program started with the messages from the mayor given by the vice mayor and school principal. During the lecture, Mr. Masao Sakan, Saijo City’s advisor on disaster preparedness, pointed out that an education in disaster risk reduction is to know about disasters and our own community, where the disasters happen, the importance of social networks, and what individuals can do in their community.
“Children and young people are important actors in disaster management as we know from many courageous stories which emerge post-disaster. They are not passive victims of events beyond their control,” stressed Ms. Yuki Matsuoka, head of UNISDR’s office in Japan, following the video broadcast of the UN Secretary-General’s message for the International Day during Saijo’s celebrations.
Since 2006, the city’s disaster risk reduction education program focused on training twelve-year old students from primary school. The program is based on the lessons learned from past disasters, especially floods and landslides caused by record number of typhoons that hit the city in 2004. The city has started to trains students older than twelve-years old as the follow-up and further development of the program since this year.
Saijo city, Hyogo prefecture, Kobe city and Nagaoka city are four cities in Japan participating in the UNISDR-led “Making Cities Resilient: My city is getting ready!” campaign.
(Photos by Saijo City)