Safeguarding students in disaster-prone Aceh

from Islamic Relief
Published on 07 May 2013 View Original

Children learning first aid techniques at school

Islamic Relief has made sure that three vulnerable schools in disaster-prone Indonesia are ready for when the worst happens.

In a project funded by Islamic Relief Netherlands, we worked with local partner the PKPU to deliver the project. It saw us working collaboratively with two vulnerable elementary schools and one junior high in Aceh, an area that was devastated by the boxing-day tsunami of 2004.

“Our school is very close to the shore,” said the headmaster of IL Elementary School, “and is frequently struck by earthquakes.”

Infrastructure vulnerabilities - including fragile roofs, unsafe bookcases, poor warning signage and broken roads - were addressed. In addition, teachers, students, parents and the wider community took part in training designed to prepare them for disasters, boost their ability to cope, and to work together to reduce the impact. The training developed clearly defined roles for everyone when a disaster strikes, as well as early warning systems and evacuation routes. Participants also received training on first aid and hundreds took part in emergency simulations.

Students learned essential lessons on what to do in a disaster through Disaster Preparedness School Festivals. These used drama, dance, art and other fun activities to emphasise important preparedness messages. A special song served as a simple reminder:

“Kalau ada gempa lindungi kepala

Kalau ada gempa masuk ke kolong meja Kalau ada gempa hindari jendela kaca Kalau ada gempa lari kelapangan terbuka”

"If there is an earthquake protect your head
If there is an earthquake go under the table
If there is an earthquake avoid glass-windows
If there is an earthquake run into the open field"

It is expected that the programme will be replicated in other vulnerable schools, as part of efforts to reduce suffering caused by disasters and emergencies. Other agencies involved in the scheme include the Aceh Provincial Red Cross and Tsunami Disaster Mitigation Research Center, as well as Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh.