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Earthquake Safety & Preparedness Program

School Earthquake Safety and Preparedness Training Program

The problem

According to the report [Prepared by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) and Norsar (Norwegian Seismic Array) in 2007], Pakistan is situated in a highly seismically active region which has experienced many disastrous earthquakes in the past and earth scientists say that strong earthquakes will continue to strike the region for the foreseeable future. A number of efforts have been launched to improve earthquake safety, but the needs are massive, and much work remains to be done.

The recent earthquake (Mw 7.6) hit the Pakistan on the 8th of October 2005. The earthquake resulted at least 79000 deaths (Government of Pakistan) in Pakistan and Pakistani administered Kashmir. The worst hit areas were Pakistani administered Kashmir and Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). It also affected some parts of the Pakistani province of Punjab, the capital city of Islamabad, and the city of Karachi experienced a minor aftershock of magnitude 4.6. A total of 147 aftershocks were registered in the first day after the initial quake of which one had a magnitude of 6.2. Twenty-eight of these aftershocks occurred with magnitudes greater.


In last few years Pakistan has faced many man made and natural disaster. School students are most vulnerable to any disaster. The prediction of time and location of earthquake is a difficult phenomenon. The recent earthquakes in all over the world have created a threat to the human society.

Sadly, earthquakes often have tragic consequences for school‐children. In the 8 October 2005 About 7,669 schools were destroyed in the earthquake, According to preliminary estimates, about 18,095 students and 853 teachers and educational staff died across Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Pakistani administered Kashmir. Source: Asian Development Bank and World Bank (2005).

On 8 October 2005, 17 000 children died when schools collapsed during morning classes in the earthquake that devastated the northern mountain region of Pakistan.

Many of the catastrophic consequences of these earthquakes were preventable. Schools can be made safe from earthquake threats with community support, hard work, and dedication. A first step towards school earthquake safety is to educate teachers, school administrators, students, and parents about earthquake risks and how they can reduce the risks they face.

NWHO's School Earthquake Safety and Preparedness Training project:

New World Hope Organization's School Earthquake Safety and Preparedness Training project was started in 2009 with a purpose to promote a culture of earthquake safety in the schools of Pakistan. School Earthquake Safety and Preparedness Training Program was organized by New World Hope Organization.

In this project, NWHO staff work to mitigate hazards and to provide basic disaster awareness and earthquake preparedness training. The team works in project schools with school administrators, teachers, students, and parents to:

 1- Identify potential hazards posed by furniture, equipment, partitions and windows that could fall, slide, or break and injure children during an earthquake;
2- Identify feasible mitigation solutions
3-Implement mitigation solutions in order of priority based on the nature of the hazard, the cost of mitigation, and other factors.

The learning level of the students, who are the future of any country, depends also on the learning level of the teachers. There is greater need children’s education as well as training of master trainers in schools on earthquake preparedness.

Brief Project Description

The aim of School Earthquake Safety and Preparedness Training project is to establish in 20 schools in 04 selected districts, (05 schools per district) in one year. Minimum 500 students in each of these schools will receive disaster awareness and earthquake preparedness training through Lectures based on power point presentations, practical activities, short films and documentaries on earthquakes, workshops, practical life-saving skills and first aid training programme.

“The School Earthquake Safety and Preparedness Training  project are established in each of the selected schools under supervision of NWHO team and school teachers.

Project Duration:

This is a Four year project, starting from 01 January 2009. The first year has been successfully completed.


The beneficiaries were school children, teachers, staff and parents of various schools in Pakistan.


The objectives of the training were:

To train teachers and school children to develop disaster management plan for their school including mitigation plan, preparedness plan and response plan.
To train the school children, teachers and staff on life saving skills through Lectures based on power point presentations, practical activities, Short films and documentaries on earthquakes, workshops, Practical life-saving skills and first aid training programme
To promote a culture of earthequke safety in the schools of Pakistan.
To provide awareness on hazards and educate the school children, teachers and staff through lecture-cum-audio-visual method about the causes and effect of earthquakes, safety measures and process to follow during a sudden occurrence of an earthquake
To impart knowledge on disaster risk reduction focusing on earthquake safety.

Why School…………….?

After the 8 October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and more recently the haiti one it has been observed that the school children are most vulnerable to a devastating earthquake. The earthquake awareness programme focused to raise the level of awareness of school children more particularly during a damaging earthquake.

A total of 7,669 schools were destroyed in the Pakistan earthquake (8 October 2005), about 18,095 students and 853 teachers and educational staff died across North West Frontier Province, Pakistan (NWFP) and Pakistani administered Kashmir when their school buildings collapsed and affecting 790,000 People (aged between 5-18 years).
Children are amongst the most vulnerable group;There is a multiplier effect of educating the public through the children.
Schools can be used as shelters and relief center after disasters.
Schools are key factor to make culture.
Major role in the development;Transferring Knowledge and can act as safety messengers.
School can save students’lives.
Educational institutions are a major public infrastructure, which can create long-lasting impact on future generations.
High Capacity of Learning.
Schools in urban areas are often located in congested areas, vulnerable to various hazards like earthquake, fire, flash floods etc.
Lack of repair and regular maintenace of schools housed in old buildings causing deaths due to building collapse.
Improper siting of schools without considering the hazard profile of the area.
Lack of awareness of schools safety issues and dimensions.


The training was conducted by experts from various fields.The programme methodology focused on:

Lectures based on power point presentations organized on the following themes.
Basics, Causes and Effects of earthquakes
Explanation of different earthquake terminologies and earthquake recordings
Steps to be taken pre, during and post an earthquake with pictures and diagrams
Short films and documentaries on earthquakes were also screened.
Circulation of earthquake literature
Literatures on earthquake were circulated to students and teachers of the targeted schools in Pakistan .
Practical life-saving skills with special emphasis on the skills which are required at the time of any disaster were also demonstrated by the resource persons.

The training program was conducted in three parts with different focused groups in all the schools ‘where NWHO provided training to school children, teachers and staff.

Part I: General Disaster Awareness program
Part II: Disaster Management Plan for School and First Aid training program
Part III: Orientation workshop on School Safety: 

Part I: General Disaster Awareness Program

Awareness about earthquake is uncommon in Pakistan even in schools. If we remind Pakistan history of earthquakes, we would find that a number of school children died during and after earthquakes. It indicates that our school children are not well aware of about earthquakes.

Power-point presentations for school activities were modified and translated into Urdu. The presentation, 'Importance of Disaster Preparedness' helped school children, teachers and staff know and understand various hazards locally, nationally as well as from global perspective. The presentation was basically focused on addressing local needs and all the school children, teachers and staffs benefited from it. 

NWHO team gave a presentation in all selected school on “School safety plan” and explained why schools need safety/emergency plans.

The presentation outline as follows- 
1. Disasters – meaning, causes of earthquakes, Effects of an earthquake,  types of disasters: major/minor natural, major/minor man made etc. 
2. Disaster trends with statistics and graphs – globally, Asia and Pakistan– locally
3. Multi hazard maps of Pakistan – increasing trends of disasters in Pakistan – loss of lives and properties – damages.
4. Disaster impacts – socio-economically, culturally – displacements due to major floods and earthquakes in Pakistan. 
5. Need of disaster preparedness, how to plan, Immediate Actions, and What to do during a Disaster.
8. Role of NWHO in disaster risk reductions – NWHO's disaster management strategies. 
9. Role of local communities in disaster preparedness alongside district level administration.
10. Some tips for disaster preparedness plans. 

Teaching Materials-
1. Power point presentation. 
2. Pamphlets and brochures on Earthquake Safety, Disaster Preparedness etc.
3. CDs with major disaster intervention programmes.

Part II: Disaster Management Plan for School and First Aid Training Program

First Aid Training Program 

The first aid training program was on participatory and interactive basis, getting to know the scenarios needing help from the students and the local practices involved in handling the casualty.

Video clippings, drawings, real life experiences, first aid kits, practical approach, subject related games, hands on practice and  experiences of the trainers were the components of the training program.

Expectations from the First Aid Training Program  -
At the end of the First Aid training program

At the end of this training program, the school children, teachers and staff  would have acquired the knowledge of the effectiveness and complications of carefully and quickly handling the casualty during emergencies.
The school children, teachers and staff will be able to identify, prioritize and handle the situation effectively.
The school children, teachers and staff  will be able to provide Basic first aid for wounds, bleeding, fractures, snake bites, poisoning, electric shock, burns, drowning and unconsciousness and carry out the methods taught to transfer the casualty to the hospital.
The school children, teachers and staff  will be effective in making splints and stretchers with the help of locally available materials.
The school children, teachers and staff  were benefited by this first aid orientation and training program sensitizing them as to the important role that one can play in reducing injuries and saving lives.

B. Disaster Management Plan for School

The School is a densely populated place and has small children that are one of the most vulnerable groups in the society. To reduce this vulnerability particularly for schools, it is important to have a school Disaster Management Plan.

In the event of an earthquake, children and teachers in an unsafe school building are at considerable risk. Disaster Management Plan for School is an extensive exercise that helps each school to prepare and respond promptly to crisis situations.

Disaster Management Plan for School implemented in 3 schools in first year comprising, orientation to teachers and students, Preparation of schools disaster management plan and formation of task forces, preparation of evacuation plans, basic disaster awareness to teachers and students,  shake table demonstration, conduction of earthquake drills, training in search & rescue, fire safety, first aid. The programmes were carried out with the support and involvement of all the teachers and students.

Part III: Orientation Workshop on School Safety: 

The purpose of the School Earthquake Safety and Preparedness Training is to create awareness and sensitize teachers and school authorities.  The school children, teachers and staff discussed the following topics.

1. Understanding disaster situation in the school
2. Importance of disaster preparedness and response in schools
3. Preparedness plan for schools in each hazard situation.

In 4 schools (first year of the project), the group was divided into five teams and given a disaster term to each group. It was observed that senior students were more responsive than the teacher in preparing the plan for their schools.  Documents like North West Frontier Province, Pakistan (NWFP) and Pakistani administered Kashmir schools tragedy were used to engage the participants in a thinking process to come out with a plan for the school safety.  Handouts on school crisis response team functions and what to do before, during and after an earthquake have enabled the participants to contribute on school preparedness plan. Each group has come up with a school safety plan on their respective hazards like floods, earthquake, accidents and fire. 


Pictures of School Earthquake Safety and Preparedness Training Programs

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Awareness Program

School Earthquake Safety
Before, During, After

Before an Earthquake

Eliminate nonstructural hazards
-Falling (Maintenance team)
-Fire (Fire safety team)

Practice drill & evacuation procedure
(Evacuation team)
Prepare & Practice response Plan (All)

Prepare for up to 3-days survival (Maintenance, Food workers)
Psychological needs (All)

During an Earthquake

• Students and teachers shout “earthquake”
• Move away from:
– Cabinets, bookshelves
– Windows, glass
• Duck, Cover and Hold On
• Protect head and neck
• Remain calm, do not run

After an Earthquake

• The teacher with the class monitor surveys
room and identifies injuries
• Students leave the room together and follow
the evacuation route to the designated safe
area walking quickly, but safely.
• Student buddies help each other and injured
or disabled students.

After Evacuation

Provide first aid for injured students
• Students remain in designated safe area
• Teacher locates missing students, Students
inform teacher about the missing and absent
• Students kept together until
– Instructions are received that it is safe to return to the classroom, or
– Students are released to a parent or guardian.