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Online seminar on disaster preparedness for students in Nepal

Publication date:2021-12-07
 
Dr. Archana Shrestha Joshi, AMDA Headquarters
 
In 2015, Nepal was devastated by a huge earthquake and suffered tremendous damage. Because of this, many school facilities were either completely or partially destroyed. Fortunately, there was no casualty at schools as the quake occurred during a Saturday daytime when they were closed.

Reflecting on the lack of awareness of disaster preparedness, Nepal’s academic institutions have strongly recognized the need for the so-called disaster prevention education. This has led the schools to launch evacuation drills. However, as COVID-19 began to spread from the end of 2019, lockdowns forced schools to go online. Needless to say, the disaster drills have been suspended for the time being.

Despite such circumstances, Principal Ms. Sujeeta of the Adrasha Vidya Mandir school was always aware of the fact that natural calamities could happen at any time. She sent an email to AMDA requesting an online seminar on disaster preparedness for her sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.

Targeting both children and adults, I had done a number of lectures in Japan to share my experience as a project coordinator for the 2015 earthquake relief. But this time, I was slightly unsure of myself since I had never specifically talked about how to prepare for quakes in front of Nepalese children.

After a little thought, I happily accepted Ms. Sujeeta’s request as I thought sharing my stories with young people would help them learn and grow.

On the day of the event, 220 people including students, their parents, teachers and Ms. Sujeeta herself participated in the online seminar. The lecture was about AMDA’s activities based on the principle of Sogo-Fujo (mutual assistance) and what we can do to prepare for earthquakes. To help the audience learn most about disaster preparedness, I emphasized the points below:

1. Check the safety of your commuting route to school at normal times
2. Check and maintain dangerous part of your house
3. Discuss with your family and decide what actions to take when an earthquake strikes
4. Prepare items and belongings for evacuation
5. Keep at least three days’ worth of food at home
6. In addition, always have a radio, a flashlight, medicine and other necessities for yourself and the whole family
7. Be sure where to take shelter (as there are no official evacuation centers in Nepal)
8. Make sure you know if there are people around you who need help
9. Help others as needed
10. Make friends with local residents during normal times, etc.

"During the 2015 earthquake, there were many people who got panicked and were seriously injured or lost their lives. The lecture today has shown us that if we prepare properly in advance, we can act smoothly without panicking when the actual disaster occurs,” Ms. Sujeeta commented after the seminar. “We will try to focus on regular disaster drills and increase the disaster literacy. We really hope you will continue to give us lectures on disaster preparedness in the near future.”

Meanwhile, one of the faculty members said, "After the 2015 earthquake, disaster prevention education and drills have become compulsory subjects in schools. Seventh and eighth grade students are learning how to prepare for earthquakes, what to do when the quake actually happens, and what actions should be taken in the aftermath. I think today's lecture was a good opportunity for them to review what they had already learned. I must add it was the first time for our sixth graders to learn about disaster preparedness.”

From the students themselves, one of them commented, "After listening to today's lecture, I felt I should hold a meeting with my whole family. This is because I learned it is better to prepare for disasters by having a family meeting on this topic in advance.”

“I now understand the importance of mutual assistance. I don’t think I had practiced the ‘help each other’ principle before, but I feel I should practice it from now on,” another student said.

In her final comment, Ms. Sujeeta said, "Since there has been no formal evacuation facilities in Nepal, people gathered at our school square to take shelter when the quake occurred in 2015. We are planning to discuss with our local residents and authorities to allow schools to be used as official evacuation centers. It would be most kind if AMDA could provide guidance when the meeting takes place.”
 
    •  Global Human Resource Development (Education Support)
    •  Nepal
    •  2021
    •  Conference / Seminar

 
 
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