Before practical drill, students in a school in Balochistan province are being told on best to respond during a crisis e.g., floods, earthquake. Copyright: WFP/Amjad Jamal
Pakistan is frequently confronted with a range of natural disasters, in particular floods, earthquakes, droughts and cyclones.
To help boost community awareness on disaster preparedness, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) with the help of the National and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities, the Education Department and partner NGOs, has started a School Safety Programme in priority districts for school children and teachers.
Gwadar: “Many precious lives can be saved if the communities are made aware on how best to react during a natural disaster. Preparing teachers and students who in return will take this message to their homes is a great initiative by the World Food Programme,” remarked Munir Ahmad Badini, Secretary (Secondary Education), Government of Balochistan.
WFP works with vulnerable communities who face increasing risks from climate shocks that can erode their capacity to feed themselves. WFP also prepares maps for disaster risk management which help identify various potential hazards at the district level.
“Gwadar in Balochistan is one of the districts most vulnerable to natural disasters. We are building resilience by helping communities to be better prepared by educating the parents, the teachers and the students on how to act and react during a disaster, be it a cyclone, a flood or an earthquake,” Sami Baig, Chief of Provincial Office Balochistan, said while interacting with teachers and students during a school visit.
In 2010, WFP initiated a pilot School Safety awareness Programme under “Disaster Risk Management (DRM)” in Muzaffarabad district of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). Around 200 school teachers from 100 schools were trained. In turn, they then trained other teachers in their respective schools to orient a total of 5,300 students.
This experience was then replicated in Gwadar district. Training of Trainers (TOT) was conducted and now around 200 teachers have been trained. In return they have provided orientation and conducted practical drills for 20,000 girls and boys in 100 schools in the district. The plan is to roll out this activity in other priority districts across Pakistan.
WFP recognizes that reducing disaster risks is an integral part of the fight against poverty and an essential element of working for the betterment and progress of Pakistan. By doing so, WFP will help these people move from managing disasters to managing risks – so their future will be brighter.
Prior to joining WFP in 2003, Amjad Jamal worked with the Pakistani Tourism Development Corporation. Currently, he is a PI Officer responsible for private sector donor relations and fund-raising in Pakistan.