Disaster reduction in Bhutan – children to the fore
Emergency drill for schoolchildren in Bhutan
© Save the Children
Numerous risks overshadow the lives of people in Bhutan. Himalayan glaciers are melting as a result of global warming, and this will lead to the flooding of entire regions and the loss of valuable agricultural land and pastures. In addition, the country is affected by regular earthquakes, heavy monsoon rains which cause landslides and floods, and forest fires which occur in the dry winter months. The Federal Foreign Office is thus funding a project in Bhutan to help prepare the populace for such natural disasters.
The project was launched in April 2011 by the German branch of Save the Children. The aim is to reach the Bhutanese population at as early an age as possible, and to enable them to react properly in emergencies. Schoolchildren are thus being taught about disaster reduction and relief.
Bhutan is home to some 600,000 people. The small country is situated in the Himalayas between India and China.
Scouts and girl guides as multipliers
Save the Children is using the existing scout network to multiply the impact of the project. There are scout groups at all Bhutanese schools, and roughly a third of all pupils, male and female, are members. More than 200 scout leaders and another 100 youth leaders will be trained to teach disaster reduction and relief. The idea is for them to pass on their newly acquired skills by providing instruction at 200 schools in 20 districts. In this way, another 2000 school pupils aged 13-18 will receive basic training in disaster reduction and relief. They will thereafter be able to share their knowledge with others in their districts and villages. Each team will be provided with an emergency kit containing basic utensils and a first-aid kit.
The trained scoutleaders will be registered with the Bhutanese authorities as officially accredited emergency first aiders. They will furthermore serve as emergency first aiders at their respective schools. In this way, a broad disaster relief network will be established by the time the project ends in early 2013. Improving people’s ability to help themselves should help reduce the negative impact of natural disasters in Bhutan. The Federal Foreign Office is contributing some 90% of the project costs, which equal around 254,000 euros.
Last updated 23.05.2012