Environment

Natural Disasters Have High Negative Impact on Children and Schools in Asia Pacific

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Residents walk on a road littered with debris after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines Nov. 10, 2013. Credit: Reuters

Bangkok: A greater humanitarian focus on schools before, during and after natural disasters will save lives, protect children and benefit communities and countries, Save the Children says in a report due out this week.

The report details the impact on education of earthquakes, floods and storms that struck Nepal, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vanuatu last year.

The disasters range from large humanitarian crises – such as the massive twin quakes in Nepal that killed 8,900 people – to the seasonal floods and storms that batter the Asia-Pacific region.

“The earthquake in Nepal had a huge impact on the country and received international media attention,” said author of the report, Sarah Ireland, by phone from Melbourne.

“Floods in Indonesia happen every year, and we often don’t hear about them,” she added.

Researchers estimate the lives of 200 million children per year will be severely disrupted by disasters in coming decades.

Here are facts and figures from Save the Children’s report.

Indonesia

  • Between January and August 2015, Indonesia experienced 1,160 disasters, including drought, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, landslides and floods.
  • Also during that period, there were 373 floods, affecting 607,000 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
  • Rains in January 2015, submerged roads in Jakarta, and more downpours in February caused further flooding, affecting more than 27,000 people.
  • The floods affected 351 schools in northern Jakarta. Inaccessible and submerged, some were closed for up to two weeks.

Vanuatu

  • The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is home to about 250,000 people, with 64% of the population exposed to natural hazards each year, including storms, floods, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
  • Cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm in March 2015, triggered floods that destroyed infrastructure, homes and livelihoods, affecting 80% of Vanuatu’s people and leaving half the population in need of emergency assistance.
  • More than half of schools were damaged or destroyed, and 34,500 children were affected.
  • Schools were closed for up to 30 days, and 34 schools were used as evacuation centres.

Nepal

  • A 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25, 2015, followed by a 7.3 magnitude quake on May 12, 2015, killed 8,900 people, destroyed 605,000 homes and damaged 288,000 more.
  • About 3.2 million children were affected by the quakes, and of those, 870,000 were left without permanent classrooms.
  • More than 8,200 public primary and secondary schools were damaged in the quakes.
  • Nearly 52,200 classrooms were damaged or destroyed.

Myanmar

  • In June 2015, seasonal rains triggered heavy flooding in parts of Myanmar.
  • At the end of July, Cyclone Komen brought heavy rains and strong winds, resulting in severe, widespread flooding that affected more than nine million people across 12 of the country’s 14 states and regions.
  • From June to October, the floods displaced about 1.7 million people and damaged 4,116 schools.
  • About 250,000 children could not attend school because of the floods.

Philippines

  • In 2015, 14 typhoons and tropical storms hit the Philippines.
  • Between 2007 and 2011, 10.8 million students in the Philippines were impacted by disasters, and 8,472 schools were used as evacuation centres.
  • Typhoon Koppu, a category 3 storm in mid-October, hit central Luzon, north of Manila, causing widespread floods and landslides.
  • The typhoon displaced one million people and damaged 803 schools, which were closed an average of two weeks, while 138 schools were used as evacuation centres.

(Reuters)