Disaster Management in Bhutan

School children during earthquake mock drill

Bhutan lies in one of the most seismically active zones in the world. Besides, the rugged mountain terrain, fragile geological conditions and extreme climate make Bhutan inherently vulnerable to natural disasters such as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) flash floods, landslides and forest fires. 

The most recent major disasters in Bhutan were the earthquake in 2009, Cyclone Aila in 2010 and the earthquake in September 2011. In all the above disasters, lives and livelihoods were lost. Heavy damage was sustained in hundreds of schools, homes, educational institutes and health centers.

Schools are the densely populated places with many young children, who are one of the most vulnerable groups in society.  It has been proven time and again that during disasters, schools and school children are the most affected.  To reduce this vulnerability, it is important to ensure that there are trained teachers and students who can guide the rest of the school population before, during and after a disaster.  Better prepared schools can also play a lead role in the community in responding to disasters. 

Save the Children implements Child Centered Disaster Risk Reduction (CCDRR) training in five districts in Bhutan. The trainings were implemented and coordinated by the Department of Disaster Management with support from multi agencies like the Department of School Education, Royal Bhutan Police and Ministry of Health. Training modules include an overview of disaster management, first aid and fire safety. A total of 200 school disaster focal teachers have been trained. The project also had the Education in Emergencies (EiE) component, which focuses on continuation of schools after a disaster.

Children evacuating the academic building during a earthquake mock drill