Natural disaster preparedness and education for sustainable development

Natural disaster preparedness and education for sustainable development

Developing educational materials for natural disaster preparedness: lessons from Asia and the Pacific

Education is now recognised as playing an important role in allowing individuals and communities to prepare for disaster. It forms a key element of the Hyogo Framework for Action and is also being addressed through UNESCO’s Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). This publication draws together the work completed under a UNESCO project on “Educational Materials for Education for Natural Disaster Preparedness in Asia-Pacific in the Context of Education for Sustainable Development”, which focused on gathering, developing and disseminating information from key stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific countries most affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Specifically, the report articulates the lessons learned by the four in-country project teams and two collaborating organizations. These were, respectively:

  • Maldives National Commission for UNESCO, Ministry of Education
  • Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), Nonthaburi, Thailand
  • SInstitute for Educational Studies And Development, Brawijaya University, Indonesia
  • University of Madras, India 
  • Bangladesh Red Crescent Society
  • Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU).

The 6 reports provide insights into effective techniques to develop locally relevant educational materials, and highlight some of the challenges in that field. Key lessons learned by the country teams include:

  • collaboration and consultation are essential to correctly identify needs and gaps, learn about a community’s preferred learning styles and develop ongoing support for their projects
  • affected communities want to be involved in projects that will lessen the impact of future natural disasters and must be viewed as a valuable resource
  • language barriers can form a major obstacle to delivering natural disaster preparedness messages. A lack of natural disaster preparedness terminology in local languages inhibits effective natural disaster preparedness communication
  • culture and religion require sensitivity: innovative approaches which build upon local culture and religion may be needed to communicate in cases where cultural beliefs and practices present obstacles to natural disaster preparedness
  • it is important to develop sustainable, ongoing commitment to local stakeholder initiatives. This can be at the national or local government levels and can include policy, financial or coordination efforts.