Tanzania earthquake prompts safe schools initiative

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Africa
Children in class in Ketumbeine community in north-eastern Tanzania (c) World Vision
Children in class in Ketumbeine community in north-eastern Tanzania (c) World Vision

DODOMA, 7 June 2018 - In September 2016, an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 struck Nsunga in Kagera region, northwestern Tanzania, killing at least 19 people and injuring 253 others. A group of 15 boys from Ihungo Secondary School in Bukoba district were among the dead. Over 800 buildings were destroyed.

But under an initiative by the government, in partnership with the UN, children in Tanzania are set to play an important role in disaster risk reduction by contributing to the enhanced awareness and preparedness of their communities.

Recognizing the importance of including children in disaster risk reduction, authorities in the capital city Dodoma are equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge which they can then share with family members to positively impact entire communities.

“In Tanzania, considerable progress has been made to address the Sendai Framework including building resilience and skills for school children through Education in Emergency (EiE) simulations and drills on preparedness and response during common emergencies,” said Charles Msangi, Disaster Management Coordinator from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Children and youth are recognized as critical stakeholders and agents of change in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which points to a need to ensure that their capacity and talent is nurtured and modalities and space for their input are made available.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government, with support from the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, are carrying out capacity building for school children to build resilience through disaster response simulation drills, integrating EiE issues into school clubs and mapping the level of schools’ preparedness and response to emergencies and disasters.

Tanzania has an established disaster loss database that seeks to quantify the cost of disasters when they occur and to support risk-informed investment. The database was implemented with support from UNISDR as part of the “Building Disaster Resilience to Natural Hazards in Sub-Saharan African Regions, Countries and Communities Programme”, funded by the European Union (EU) and being implemented as part of a cooperation between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).

Under the programme, Tanzania is also one of sixteen countries where risk profiles on flood and drought are being generated by UNISDR in partnership with the CIMA Research Foundation (the International Centre for Environmental Monitoring).

At the national level, Tanzania adopted a National Disaster Management to streamline DRR coordination and set out clear legal, institutional frameworks. The country will also be participating in training on the online Sendai Framework Monitoring Tool, launched in March this year, which will help track global progress on reducing disaster losses.

Hazards have contributed to high poverty levels in the Tanzania. The World Bank estimates that more than 28 percent of the population’s income is below the basic needs line. Approximately 12 million Tanzanians live below the national poverty line.

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