General Introduction
Central Objective of the Hemispheric Plan
Characteristics of the Hemispheric Plan
Agencies Involved in the Hemispheric Plan
Organization of the Hemispheric Plan
Implementation of the Hemispheric Plan
Academic Aspects
Citizen Participation
Physical Infrastructure Area
Links to the Component Documents of the Hemispheric Plan

  1. General Introduction

Disasters are the result of processes of nature and society. Education and its influence on the behavior of different actors or agents in society are a determining factor in the creation of conditions of vulnerability and occasional disaster. The predominant cultural expressions generally move away form providing an adequate basis for achieving balance between the natural or physical environment and society. Only with fundamental changes and educational reforms can we advance in the creation and strengthening of a true culture of disaster prevention.

By monitoring the previous actions in the Education Sector and the Plan of Action of the Summit of Sustainable Development (Santa Cruz of the Sierra, Bolivia December 1996), a definite process began which lead to the preparation of a Hemispheric Plan of Action for the Reduction of the Vulnerability in the Education Sector to Disasters. This document is the result of a broad process of consultation and consensus-building that culminated in the Hemispheric Conference for the Mitigation of Risks of Socio-Natural Disasters in the Education Sector in Caracas, Venezuela from September 15 through the 17, 1997.

  1. Central Objective of the Hemispheric Plan

A Hemispheric Plan has been developed to present before the governmental and non- governmental agencies related to the education sector in each country. The proposed strategy is defined so that the education sector participates in the programs for reduction of socio-natural disasters.

The Hemispheric Plan identifies and promotes national, regional, and hemispheric mechanisms, in order to facilitate the commitment to carry out the agreed upon activities, through programs for advisory, training, technological transfer, and investment.

The Hemispheric Plan serves as back-up for acquiring political, institutional, technical, and financial support for:

bulletImprovement of the curriculum in primary, secondary, and university level education
bulletTraining and educating the general public
bulletMaking educational buildings adequate and safe
bulletEstablishing a concrete timetable for the achievements of goals
  1. Characteristics of the Hemispheric Plan

The Hemispheric Plan is made up of National and Regional Plans; specific activities of organizations, institutions, and national, regional and international agencies working individually and collectively in order to strengthen a vision of integrated and complementary actions.

The Hemispheric Plan tries to strengthen the creation and implementation of actions related to Regional Plans, National Plans, and specific activities.

The Hemispheric Plan complements existing actions as well as identifies deficiencies, proposes and actions, and encourages their implementation.

At the same time, the Hemispheric Plan serves as an instrument and process to bring the Education Sector the political, economic and institutional support necessary to execute the proposed actions.

The Hemispheric Plan is implemented in the national and regional contexts where the proposed actions are under way, respecting and strengthening the role of the Education Sector.

The participants in the Hemispheric Plan promote it by:

bulletSupporting its adoption and implementation in the top political and technical forums of the Education Sector.
bulletOffering and proposing ideas that help develop and expand the Hemispheric Plan.
bulletProviding a means for the exchange of ideas between professionals, technicians, and communities related to the Education Sector and the disaster mitigation.
  1. Agencies Involved in the Hemispheric Plan

International, regional and national agencies, as well as their networks and associations with disaster reduction and environmental management programs in the education sector have contributed and helped prepare this document. The contributors include representatives of several countries in the following agencies:

bulletMinistries of education
bulletState agencies responsible for the educational physical infrastructure
bulletNon-governmental and voluntary organizations that work in the education sector
bulletInternational organizations and regional institutions with programs in the education sector
bulletProfessional and independent consultants
  1. Organization of the Hemispheric Plan

The Hemispheric Plan is divided into three areas.

Academic Aspects

Includes strategies to incorporate academic program design in basic education, university education and professional programs in several disciplines, adapting the program according to the various types of vulnerability in each country.

Citizen Participation

Includes to be channeled through ministries of education and other institutions, to provide specific plans which will form part of specialized organization plans for bringing support to training and counseling, as well as to operational plans.

Physical Infrastructure

Includes strategies for the management and retrofitting of educational buildings according to natural hazard vulnerability to modify planning processes, design, construction and maintenance as a function of safety for these buildings.

  1. Implementation of the Hemispheric Plan

The Hemispheric Plan has been formulated as a reference guide based on the experiences of the countries.

It is not an extensive or exhaustive document. Nor does it represent the programming of all works and actions necessary to reduce the impact of natural disasters on the education sector. However, the combination of objectives and activities attempt to resolve specific problems related to education and the development of the population.

The Hemispheric Plan is a work in progress. An Executive Committee Pro Tempore designated for its implementation should be brought together periodically in order to review, modify, update and to add to the Hemispheric Plan with the experiences that have been useful in practice and that are considered beneficial in the continuous search for solutions to the problems of the Education Sector.

  1. Academic Aspects

It has been demonstrated that prevention and mitigation is the only way to protect student’s lives in educational buildings, as well as the lives of the general population. The most economical way of changing knowledge, attitudes, and behavior as they apply to prevention measures is through the educational systems.

Many technical and ministry level meetings of different sectors of society have emphasized the urgent need to teach the disaster component in the hemisphere.


The participants of the Hemispheric Conference held in Caracas on the Mitigation of Risks from Socio Natural Disasters in the Education Sector coming from all academic sectors request that all the national and international entities:

bulletGive priority to all disaster related projects that are carried out on a multi and intersectoral level.
bulletPromote the approval of legislative acts (laws, resolutions and directives) that include the disaster component in preschool, primary, secondary and university (graduate and post graduate) level curricula.
bulletProvide the funds necessary to strengthen information exchange and experiences, as well as education through the Internet.
bulletPromote the funding of applied research dealing with disasters especially that which deals with prevention and mitigation.
bulletEnsure that the curriculum and the educational programs in the formal and non-formal training sectors, integrate the risk management component of disasters.
bulletStrengthen technical cooperation among teaching centers in order to share experiences in curriculum design and promote the transfer of information, technology and projects.
bulletPromote the training of teachers specialized in risk and disaster management that transfer skills to students as well as other educators.
bulletEnsure that all the professionals occupying positions related to disaster management acquire formal training in that discipline.
bulletStrengthen the work of Regional Center of documentation on disasters (CRID).
bulletStrengthen centers of academic and technical excellence responsible for teaching, research, and training dissemination of risk and disaster management. For example: documentation centers, collaborating centers and La Red among others.
  1. Citizen Participation Area

Considering the current trends in the management of the environment, with more emphasis when it plans to improve collectively and individually the quality of life and guarantee (to sustain) the socioeconomic development of present and future populations, it becomes necessary to radically change human practices and attitudes involved in the face of risks and socio-natural disasters. Otherwise these will irreversibly affect not only the natural environment, but also the sustainability of the communities involved and their respective qualities of life.

Accordingly, it is vital that articulation between risk management and environmental management, the quality of life and sustainability of the communities involved and their respective qualities of life and sustainability, be translated into the presence of a preventive culture in the community. (We understand the community and its interrelationship with the local government, private sector, organized community and how it functions in a coordinated manner with the central government.


The participants of the Hemispheric Conference held in Caracas on the Mitigation of Risks from Socio Natural Disasters in the Education Sector request that all national and international entities:

bulletTechnical and financial support for the execution of national and regional projects that are developed for awareness campaigns and public training related to the subject of risk reduction and self-management in disaster situations.
bulletPlan within the national, departmental, and local budgets resources dedicated to actions in prevention, mitigation, response, and reconstruction activities related to disasters.
bulletEstablish within the existing legal framework a mandate to institutionalize the development institutional plans for emergencies in the education sector.
bulletDefine a national policy with contributions from the central and local governments, the academic institutions, the non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and the community, linking the fields of civil defense, education, health, and environment.
bulletRecognize community organization as valid authorities. Citizen participation in the reduction of vulnerabilities implies that citizens are active in cultural and political issues.
bulletIncrease the participation of the private sector in risk and disaster management in order to decrease losses and increase safety levels for employees.
bulletIncorporate into communications media the formulation of programs for risk and disaster management. The entities in charge of disaster management should promote open and permanent relationships with the communications media.
bulletStrengthen local structures in order to promote community development for the purpose of improving risk and disaster management in each community.
bulletParticipate actively on the national level the promotion of international initiatives such as the "International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction," declared by the United Nations General Assembly.
  1. Physical Infrastructure Area

The physical infrastructure component tries to incorporate the concept of safety in light of socio-natural disasters when developing a building code regulations, project preparation, construction and the evaluation of the educational physical infrastructure.

This component includes strategies for retrofitting educational buildings in accordance with risks to natural hazards in such a way that the planning process, design, execution of projects, repair, re-structuring, conditioning, and maintenance relate to safety.

The design and execution of programs for vulnerability reduction to natural hazards in the educational infrastructure sector encompasses: policies, planning processes, investment projects and programs of emergency preparedness.

In order to achieve vulnerability reduction objectives in the infrastructure component of the education sector, activities have been proposed for the corresponding sub-areas of the physical infrastructure. These sub-areas are:

1.  Programming
2.  Codes, standards, and regulations
3.  Construction systems in:
        a.  seismic areas
        b.  hurricane, landslide and flood-prone areas
4.  Project design
5.   Inspection and execution of works
6.  Evaluation, reinforcement and maintenance


bulletCoordinate the different organizations that interact in the educational sector infrastructure component which execute planning activities, standardization, project design, budget preparation, maintenance, repair, construction and financing. The agencies involved in the application of these programs are: the ministries of education, official bodies responsible for school infrastructure, local non-governmental or national organizations and regional and international organizations of technical cooperation and financing.
bulletEstablish information systems that make it possible to quantify educational infrastructure which include criteria for socio-natural disaster prevention and mitigation.
bulletMake the authorities aware of and lay the groundwork for a physical infrastructure system that orients the decision-making process with regard to investment and optimizes the use of the resources. This should be incorporated into the agenda of the ministers of education.
bulletReview the current legal framework in countries to help achieve the reduction of vulnerability of education infrastructure and promote actions aimed at total risk management. It is recommended that a status report of the legal framework and its limitations be prepared in order to review and update the codes, standards, and regulations of building design and construction. In addition, the institutional organization responsible for the application of standards, codes, and regulations should be clearly identified.
bulletTrain engineers and architects in the development and dissemination of techniques used in construction systems which can be utilized in seismic, hurricane, landslide and flood-prone areas.
bulletTrain executors of public works in the use of construction systems designed for seismic, hurricane, landslide and flood-prone areas. This training should involve the educational community in a way that makes it aware of the criteria for vulnerability reduction, which translates into reduction in loss of human lives and materials.
bulletEstablish mechanisms so that physical details and land types where schools are located are considered and applied to standards and technical specifications for vulnerability reduction.
bulletDevelop and distribute methodological guidelines for the evaluation, inspection, reinforcement, and maintenance of educational physical infrastructure as they relate to natural hazards.

10.Links to the Component Documents of the Hemispheric Plan

  Microsoft Word 6.0 Plain Text Rich Text Format (RTF)
General Introduction download download download
Academic Aspects not available in English not available in English not available in English
Citizen Participation download download download
Physical Infrastructure download download download
Activities not available in English not available in English not available in English