PROGRAMME NEWS

Kids Prepared For Disasters

children in class, in Harar, Ethiopia.

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

If it could be done in Brazil, why couldn’t it Mozambique? This is the story of Tito Bonde, whose experience on Rio de Janeiro inspired him to push forward with the idea of teaching disaster risk reduction to children in Mozambique.

Disaster management is often something we only think about when we learn of an earthquake or a flood in a neighbouring country. However, we know that natural disasters can happen anytime and that they often affect the most vulnerable people. Tito Bonde has worked on disaster and emergency management for the last 15 years.  In 2013 he participated in a Learning Alliance under the ELLA Programme, a UK Aid funded south-south knowledge initiative that mixes research, exchange and learning to inspire evidence-based policies and practices.  Together with REDEH, a human development network in Brazil, and CentroClima, a climate change unit at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Practical Action Consulting Latin America managed a Learning Alliance on Resilient Cities.  Along with many other issues, Tito exchanged experiences with peers from Latin America, Africa and Asia, on urban disaster risk reduction and early warning systems.

In May of that year Tito visited Rio de Janeiro where he was very impressed with how disaster risk reduction was taught as part of the curriculum in primary schools. The city’s Civil Defence Authority ran a programme within municipal schools to teach civil defence techniques and environmental education in public schools. Children in fifth grade worked in groups to map the risks in the neighbourhood surrounding their school, and had lessons to understand how to reduce risks and what to do in the case of an emergency. Tito noticed how fifth graders were responsible for evacuating the school during simulation exercises: “In countries like Canada this is a normal practice but when I saw it in Brazil I realised we could also do it in Mozambique as Brazil is not a first world country and in many ways it has similarities with Mozambique”. The Rio de Janeiro programme has led to much increased awareness among children and their relatives, and the programme is not resource intensive.

Happy girl in school

© Riccardo Niels Mayer
Later when Tito started working for UNICEF, he was able to use his Brazil knowledge to contribute to the work being carried out by the organisation and the government on introducing disaster risk reduction into the school curriculum in Mozambique: “…there had been some work around this before I came to Mozambique. However, in the last year we have been able to make steady progress pushing for the development and adoption of a basic school preparedness plan for primary school, particularly those in the most risk-prone areas”.   The programme is in a pilot phase and has strong support from government.  Given the vulnerability of the country and that of the education sector to natural disasters, the school preparedness initiative is a plus for the country and complements other multi-sectoral approaches to building disaster resilience.

Stories like Tito Bonde’s and his role in disaster risk reduction in Mozambique show that south-south exchange can contribute to change when there are windows of opportunity, and where programmes work with committed, capable individuals able to deploy the knowledge they picked up when the opportunity develops.

In the ELLA programme UK Aid bet on the benefits of south-south learning. Tito’s story is just one case among the many registered by the programme.  Knowledge exchange between regions of the ´global south’ can work, even where countries are very different, when sufficient attention is paid to identifying and understanding context.  Tito was quite able to take his Brazil learning to see what could be made to work in Mozambique.

 

This article has been written by Alicia Quezada, Manager of Practical Action Consulting Latin America, and is based on an interview with Tito Bonde (15 March 2016) and programme reports, including a report on the ELLA Study Tour to Brazil “Climate Resilient Cities, Reflections on the Latin American Study Tour, 12-19 May 2013”.
You can contact Mark Lewis if you want to know more about the ELLA Programme and Alicia Quezada if you want to engage with Practical Action Consulting Latin America.
CCThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

 

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