UNICEF’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness at School: A Report on Evaluation of Approaches and Capturing the Lessons


Executive Summary

Disasters pose a serious risk to children‘s access to quality education. Disasters threat life and wellbeing of students and education staff as well as limit their access to school, deteriorate quality of education, delay recovery of school and increase drop-out. The situation is likely to exacerbate by the impact of climate change as well as threat of earthquake.

The government of Bangladesh (GoB) undertook a number of initiatives e.g. improvement of physical infrastructure and inclusion of disaster in the school curriculum. Such initiatives reduced the physical risk, but challenges remain in the alignment education and disaster risk management system of the country. These challenges were highlighted in the discussion after the two massive disasters in 2007. The Education Cluster, led by GoB and UNICEF, piloted a set of approaches to find an effective strategy to protect primary education from disasters. With funding support from UNICEF Bangladesh, the project was implemented by two consortiums led by Save the Children UK (SC-UK) and ActionAid International Bangladesh (AAIB). The project worked with 1,400 schools in flood and cyclone affected areas in 2009 and 2010.

This summary presents the key lessons from the above-mentioned pilot project. UNICEF commissioned an evaluation to examine the effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and replicability of the various institutional and programmatic approaches to recommend a set of approaches that can be replicated at scale.

Key Lessons from the Evaluation:

  1. Community initiatives and leadership to protect their school from disaster are highly evident in line with their capacity. Externally facilitated projects produce effective result if they are built on such leadership.

  2. Success of school-based DRR initiative depends on a multi-stakeholder partnership within the school community (i.e. students, parents, teachers and SMC) and wider stakeholders (e.g. local government, elected representatives and government departments). .

  3. Systematic risk analysis using participatory methods helps school community to generate collective analysis and actions. Children add significant value to the process, but their participation in the planning can be limited by cultural norms.

  4. School communities can translate their analysis into contingency and long term plans, and such a plan can sustain when it is integrated with school improvement plans (where it exists) along with appropriate institutions and leadership.

  5. External facilitation to school community has been helpful but may not be feasible at national scale. Further research should be conducted on possible of integration of DRR in regular education process.

  6. Effective coordination is yet to exist between education and disaster institutions at sub-national level which is an influence of national policy and institutional mind-set. Further initiatives should be taken to examine and address the existing gaps.