Educational Approach to Seismic Risk Mitigation in Indian Himalayas -Hazard Map Making Workshops at High Schools-

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Kazuki Koketsu1, Satoko Oki2, Motoko Kimura1, Rajender Chadha3 and Srinagesh Davuluri3, (1)Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, (2)Keio University, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Fujisawa, Japan, (3)National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, India
How can we encourage people to take preventive measures against damage risks and empower them to take the right actions in emergencies to save their lives?

The conventional approach taken by scientists had been disseminating intelligible information on up-to-date seismological knowledge. However, it has been proven that knowledge alone does not have enough impact to modify people’s behaviors in emergencies (Oki and Nakayachi, 2012). On the other hand, the conventional approach taken by practitioners had been to conduct emergency drills at schools or workplaces. The loss of many lives from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake has proven that these emergency drills were not enough to save people’s lives, unless they were empowered to assess the given situation on their own and react flexibly.

Our challenge is to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice. With reference to best practices observed in Tohoku, such as The Miracles of Kamaishi, our endeavor is to design an effective Disaster Preparedness Education Program that is applicable to other disaster-prone regions in the world, even with different geological, socio-economical and cultural backgrounds.

The key concepts for this new approach are 1) empowering individuals to take preventive actions to save their lives, 2) granting community-based understanding of disaster risks and 3) building a sense of reality and relevancy to disasters.

With these in mind, we held workshops at some high schools in the Lesser Himalayan Region, combining lectures with an activity called “Hazard Map Making” where students proactively identify and assess the hazards around their living areas and learn practical strategies on how to manage risks.

We observed the change of awareness of the students by conducting a preliminary questionnaire survey and interviews after each session. Results strongly implied that the significant change of students’ attitudes towards disaster preparedness occurred not by the lectures of scientific knowledge, but after completing the whole program of activities. Students closed their presentation by spontaneously adding messages to others about importance of life and preparedness.

In this presentation, we share good practices in terms of program design and facilitation that encouraged the transition of participants from a learner to an actor.