CWS’s Disaster Risk Reduction work having a positive impact in local communities
Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on May 2, 2008, and ripped its way through the Delta all the way up to Yangon. Over 140,000 people were killed and almost one million lost their homes and businesses.
Nargis was by far the most devastating disaster in the living memory of the country and reminded everyone how vulnerable Myanmar is to a number of natural hazards – not just cyclones, but also tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, droughts, tsunamis, landslides and tornadoes.
Immediately after Nargis, CWS-Asia/Pacific, SEEDS Asia, the Myanmar Engineering Society, Mingalar Myanmar, Myanmar Marketing Committee and the METTA foundation jointly collaborated on the first phase of a project to help the communities to recover from the devastation that this horrendous disaster left behind. This phase ran until the end of 2010.
First, we upgraded schools and their surroundings, such as roads and fences and provided training on disaster risk reduction to children, teachers, local communities and local government officials. We also provided a pilot training on early warning systems to local teachers, community members, village authorities and school children.
Finally, we developed the concept of the Mobile Knowledge Resource Center (MKRC) truck and then Water Knowledge Resource Center (WKRC) boat, equipped with posters, games, miniature models of safer houses and other stimulating training materials.
School children learn the science of hazards from a teacher trained under CWS and SEEDS Asia’s program on the Mobile Knowledge Resource Center. Photo: CWS-Asia/Pacific / SEEDS Asia.
Between January 2011 and June 2012, together with our partners SEEDS Asia and Myanmar Engineering Society, we conducted disaster and disaster preparedness training to over 5,600 people in over 20 townships across the Ayeyarwady Delta, Bago and Yangon Divisions of the country.
Participants included teachers, students, villagers and government officials. The 980 teachers were provided with additional training so that they could in turn train others.
The training included sessions on the mechanisms of disasters; a movie depicting a disaster as it happened; emergency bag and sandbag making; first aid training; a card game where they have to act out a safety tip; an investigative walk around the town to spot hazards or potential hazards.
Based on feedback, during the project we extended the training of the trainer to two days instead of one. This allowed the teachers to assess the vulnerability of their schools by looking at the history of hazards in their localities and what they have at their disposal to prepare for future disasters.
We also supported them to devise emergency plans for their schools and action plans for further DRR training to students.
In May 2012, an external evaluation team, joined by CWS-Asia/Pacific, SEEDS Asia and MES, embarked on an impact study to see how some of those who had received the training were doing in Labutta and Bogale townships, which were both seriously affected by Nargis.
During the evaluation study, the team met 29 Teachers and 55 students in the two townships. Overall, we were highly encouraged by the results.
It was clear, yet again, that the trainings were well received and various modes of testing showed that they had retained much of the knowledge they had acquired from the training.
They had also managed to share their knowledge and promote the same positive attitudes towards disaster preparedness to others, both in school and in the wider community. It was great to see how quickly and efficiently those trained reacted to the terrifying tsunami warning in April 2012.
Given how effective the trainings were, we will continue wherever possible to use MKRC and WKRC in our future programs. We are also promoting them to other organizations that maybe interested in using them.
The full report is available from the Documents Library.