School-In-A-Box ready to go after Vanuatu cyclone hits

from Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Published on 08 Feb 2012 View Original

If Cyclone Jasmine causes serious damage to Vanuatu, one part of daily life which should be back up and running very quickly is schools.

Save the Children Fund is part of disaster relief efforts put in place by the government, and their special task in the event of widespread damage to buildings is to get schools up and running as soon as possible.

They have what they call a school-in-a-box, a pre-packaged kitset of materials which can be used to get a school operational within a day.

They say they're ready to help the country's children continue their education no matter what Cyclone Jasmine throws at them.

Presenter: Bruce Hill Speaker: Geoff Robinson, humanitarian program manager, Save the Children Fund, Vanuatu

Listen: Windows Media

ROBINSON: We've been preparing for a disaster situation by firstly ensuring that we have prepositioned stocks ready to deploy to a location that's affected, so they're essentially schools in a box where we have resources for teachers, resources for children, like books and pens and paper, resources for games and other school-based activities.

HILL: So the idea is that once the cyclone goes through and if it's really badly damaged a school, you can actually get these things set up and ready to run so that children don't really have to miss many days of school?

ROBINSON: Yes, that's right. Look essentially, the idea is that we have a school in a box and we can re-establish a safe temporary learning space for children, so we can re-establish some normality back into the lives as quickly as possible. Also having a temporary learning space it brings about a safe place for children to be during and just after a disaster situation. It gives them a safe, supervising, structured environment and ensures that we can meet their immediate needs around safety, post-disaster, but also providing some psycho social support to them as well.

HILL: It's important for kids especially to get back into the normal rhythm after a disaster isn't it?

ROBINSON: Yes, that's right and there's lots of evidence to say that re-establishing normality for children lives straight away is very, very important and education provides a really good mechanism for doing that.

HILL: And quickly can you get this school in a box set up?

ROBINSON: Well essentially as soon as we can get the resources deployed on location and people there ready to start teaching again. It can be done within a day.

HILL: Now Cyclone Jasmine is bearing down on the southern group in Vanuatu at the moment. How prepared are you for Cyclone Jasmine? Do you have all your schools in a box prepositioned, are you ready for whatever might happen?

ROBINSON: Well, we're as ready as we can be. We have prepositioned stocks waiting in Vila and we're just waiting to see the outcome of Cyclone Jasmine as it moves on its forecast track. Hopefully the damage to schools or to communities in the Tafea Province Islands is not to severe, but as soon as we do find out and hear some reports from the community on the damage and impacts we'll be able to do an assessment and work out just how many schools are needing relief items, then we can mobilise the resources we have here in Vila and get them down to the affected communities.

HILL: Obviously you have to get them down there by boat. I mean do have enough resources in the way the maritime transport, how quickly could you get them down to the affected islands?

ROBINSON: Yeah, that's a good question and it really does depend on the weather conditions at the time and we need to take advice from the relevant authorities about the most appropriate mode of transport. It could be by boat as part of a broader relief item distribution or potentially if the schools in a box aren't so large that they couldn't be transported by plane either.

HILL: Speaking of the weather, what's it looking like in Port Vila at the moment?

ROBINSON: Port Vila, it's still quite windy at the moment and we just on the tail edge of Cyclone Jasmine at the moment, so the seas are very, very rough and some strong wind and rain around as well.

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