PROFILE OF THE NHP NATURAL HAZARD PROGRAM FOR THE EDUCATION SECTOR
The OSDE has been an active promoter of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) in the education sector. In 1992 the OSDE initiated a Natural Hazard Vulnerability Reduction Program for the Education Sector which promotes the design and implementation of policies, plans, projects, and preparedness for natural disaster reduction, focusing on the physical infrastructure of the sector. In 1993, the IDNDR declared the Year of Natural Hazard Vulnerability Reduction in Schools and Hospitals. In 1992 and 1993 the OSDE and the former Department of Education Affairs (DEA) of the OAS organized regional Natural Hazard Vulnerability Reduction workshops in which professionals in physical planning and school emergency planning from the ministries of education discussed vulnerability reduction programs. In late 1994, with financial support from the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), the OAS-ECHO Program began pilot activities in El Salvador and Nicaragua. In 1995 the Natural Hazard Vulnerability Reduction Program was expanded to include, in a second phase, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. The Program trains technical staff of the education ministries, government agencies in charge of public projects, and NGOs to prepare school vulnerability profiles. The OAS-ECHO Program also assists the ministries with coordinating national school infrastructure programs, encouraging community participation in vulnerability reduction, and obtaining support for funding mitigation measures.
The objective of the Program is to prepare and implement actions to reduce the effects of natural disasters on the education sector and identify elements in the infrastructure that could be damaged in the event of a natural disaster, and therefore need to be protected by preparedness and response measures. Among the steps to be taken for protection of schools against natural disasters is the design and implementation of Natural Hazard Vulnerability Reduction Programs for the Education Sector. These programs encompass support for:
Policies to reduce vulnerability; Planning processes for use of natural hazard information; Projects for mitigating damages; and Preparedness and emergency response activities.
The Program will make possible a reorientation of decision-making about school infrastructure based on a knowledge of vulnerability and the possible consequences of disasters. These programs should be based on an assessment of the history of natural hazards in the area, an analysis of vulnerability to these hazards, and the design of structural and nonstructural mitigation actions. Their implementation involves:
the ministries of education; national agencies responsible for school construction; regional organizations; and international organizations that provide financial and technical assistance.
The OSDE supports these programs with technical assistance, organization of training workshops, and the preparation of technical documents. The training materials include, among other subjects, the definition of national programs, the design of strategy, the preparation of technical documents based on assessments, and the execution of actions in the field.