A program based on a child-friendly education approach aims to provide relevant, high-quality education to the most threatened and marginalized communities. Students of all ages can study and participate in school safety measures and work with teachers and other adults to minimize risks through all phases of the disaster cycle.

Knowledge of climate disaster risk reduction needs to be introduced to school children from primary through secondary school, with a focus on prevention, mitigation, vulnerability reduction and resilience building.  This includes providing the children with knowledge, skills and attitudes about the local environment and on how to reduce risks. As a result, children are better prepared to cope with climate change and contribute to finding solutions to its effects on their communities.

The Dominica Red Cross Society plans to teach valuable disaster risk management and health skills through its community based disaster management programming. Providing disaster education information to school children delivers the added benefit of the same information being conveyed to other family members.

Objectives and beneficiaries

To reach as many children as possible, the project will target groups in both primary and secondary schools, including teachers. Primary school students will watch puppet show performances, where the theme of disaster preparedness is delivered in a child friendly way. A video will be made of the performances on the various hazards to which Dominica is prone which can be easily shown in the schools in the following years of the project.

The Secondary schools students will be offered more structured lessons of disaster education using informative material and lessons. The teachers will have one seminar or meeting, where specific information on disaster preparedness and education is given, and a brief explanation on the use of the educational materials.

Strong points of the practice

A pilot-program for the first year includes:

- Preparation, planning and developing education materials
- Holding discussions with the Ministry of Education to achieve buy-in of the project
- Prepare an education kit for primary schools which will include table games and quiz sheets about disaster preparedness
- Produce Video copies of the puppet performances for upload to YouTube
- Compile the teachers an education kit, which includes copies of the PowerPoint presentations for secondary schools
- Copies of Family Disaster Plans to complete home with family members (‘ A tool to protect your home and family’ produced by the Dominica Red Cross)

A program for primary schools will include one child friendly puppet show performance, depicting activities aligned to country hazards for education. After the performance the students will play educational games and quizzes about disasters. Prior to this, teachers participate in a seminar, where they will be instructed on how to deliver information on disaster preparedness.

Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation

The goal is to develop the materials and methodology for imparting knowledge on disaster education in primary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth of Dominica. During this pilot year the project contents will be disseminated to approximately 500 children (both primary and secondary Schools) and 25 teachers. Following evaluation and reporting on this pilot project the aim will be to seek funding to implement in all remaining schools island-wide.

Replicability potential of the practice

66.5 million children were affected by disasters each year. That number is expected to climb to as high as 175 million per year in the current decade (2010–2020). The situation is getting worse because of the growing frequency and severity of natural disasters due to climate change.

Investing in Disaster Education strategies improves the resilience of communities to cope with recurring disasters. Disaster Education and climate change adaptation measures in schools will promote inclusion of low income families in reducing their vulnerability to disasters.

[Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.]