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Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is the concept and practice of reducing risks through systematic efforts to analyze and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, reduced vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events.

There is no such thing as a 'natural' disaster, only natural hazards.

Disaster risk reduction aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards

like earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones, through an ethic of prevention.


Disasters often follow natural hazards. A disaster's severity depends on how much impact a hazard has on society and the environment. The scale of the impact in turn depends on the choices we make for our lives and for our environment. These choices relate to how we grow our food, where and how we build our homes and schools, what kind of government we have, how our financial system works, and what we teach in schools. Each decision and action makes us more vulnerable to disasters - or more resilient to them.

Students need access to education. However access to any classroom is not enough. Schools must withstand potential hazards and be safe for all. In disasters, students, staff, and families experience intense mental and physical trauma. Unsafe schools can injure and even kill people. Years of learning can be lost as communities focus on recovery, not education. And without school to attend each day, students can be vulnerable to abuse, neglect, violence, and exploitation. Recent disasters highlight how vulnerable schools are. In each case, the emotional loss felt by the surviving community is impossible to measure.

Elements of disaster risk reduction should be incorporated into formal curricula and in co-curricular activities from the primary to secondary levels of education. Targeting higher education can be a practical means to build disaster reduction capacities. Incorporating hazard and disaster risk-related issues into existing education curricula contributes to continuous learning and reinforces disaster risk reduction knowledge.

Key Activities

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 with its seven targets and four priorities for action, was adopted at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March 2015. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in June 2015. This Declaration follows the Hyogo Framework 2005-2015.

The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibilities are to be shared with other stakeholders including local government and the private sector. It aims for the following outcome: The substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.

7 Targets: The targets focus on substantial reductions in (1) disaster mortality, (2) number of affected people, (3) direct economic losses, and (4) reducing damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, including education. The Sendai Framework also seeks a substantial increase in (5) national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020, (6) enhanced cooperation to developing countries, and (7) a substantial increase in multi-hazard early warning systems, disaster risk information and assessments.

4 Priorities:

  1. Understanding disaster risk
  2. Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
  3. Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience
  4. Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction

Learn more about the Sendai Framework on the UNISDR website.

Worldwide Initiative for School Safety

The Worldwide Initiative for School Safety (WISS) is a government-led global partnership that aims at securing political commitment and fostering safe schools implementation globally.  

WISS motivates and supports governments to develop and implement national school safety policies, plans and programs in combination with the three technical aspects of Comprehensive School Safety. Technical resources provided by the Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES) can be found on the WISS Technical Support Package page.

For more information, view the WISS informational document (PDF) and the WISS Action Plan (PDF).

Comprehensive School Safety Framework

3 Pillars of Comprehensive School Safety. Click to enlarge.
The Comprehensive School Safety Framework (CSSF) provides a comprehensive approach to reducing risks from all hazards to the education sector by addressing three pillars of school safety:

  1. Safe Learning Facilities
  2. School Disaster Management
  3. Risk Reduction and Resilience Education

The CSSF aims to provide a unified focus for child-centered and evidence-based efforts to promote Disaster Risk Reduction throughout the education sector and to assure universal access to quality education. The CSSF document includes an introduction to the framework and its components. Detailed descriptions of each pillar are also provided, including key actors and key responsibilities necessary for implementing comprehensive school safety.

The Comprehensive School Safety Framework document is available in English and Spanish.

Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES)

The main purposes of GADRRRES are to strengthen global coordination, increase knowledge, and advocate on risk reduction education and safety in the education sector. The work of the GADRRRES ultimately contributes to a global culture of safety and resilience through education and knowledge. GADRRRES has developed and endorses the Comprehensive School Safety Framework and actively promotes the Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools.

Background: In 2006, the Thematic Platform on Knowledge and Education (TPKE) was formed as an official UNISDR thematic platform. Since 2006, the TPKE, composed of relevant UN bodies, international NGOs, and selected regional partners, has made significant contributions to the conceptual development of DRR education and knowledge. In particular, the TPKE developed a strategic framework and guiding tools to support governments as well as education and practitioners in integrating DRR as part of school curricula and to develop educational safety initiatives at the national and local levels.

In 2013, the TPKE became the Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES). In alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals and new plans of action in both the DRR and education spheres, GADRRRES again reviewed and updated its mission and objectives in 2016 to sharpen the working modalities needed to support effective coordination.

INEE has been an active member of the TPKE and helped establish GADRRRES, to which it provides communications support and technical expertise.

Find out more at

Towards Safer School Construction: A community-based approach

The Towards Safer School Construction: A community-based approach initiative and the resources it has produced are the result of a multi-year global consultation process with construction specialists and development practitioners involved in community approaches to safer school construction. The initiative includes a multilingual website, a written guide, and a series of videos, all of which can be accessed for free at

Watch a short introduction to the initiative to learn why safer school construction is a critital part of DRR and education in emergencies.

This initiative was funded by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and produced by Save the Children and Risk RED in support of the Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES).

Safer School Construction Initiative (2009)

The Safer School Construction Initiative produced the Guidance Notes on Safer School Construction, which provides principles and steps for building and retrofitting disaster resilient school buildings. The Guidance Notes address the need and rationale for safer school buildings; recommend a series of steps that should be considered when planning a safer school construction and/or retrofitting initiative; and identify basic design principles and requirements a school building must meet to provide a greater level of protection. Finally, the Guidance Notes provide a list of key resources for more detailed, technical and context-specific information.

The Guidance Notes on Safer School Construction is available in Arabic, Bahasa, Chinese, French, English, Hindi, Spanish. A User Guide for Guidance Notes on Safer School Construction and a list of additional resources is also available.

This 2009 initiative was led by the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) at the World Bank, and in collaboration with the Coalition for Global School Safety and Disaster Prevention Education, the IASC Education Cluster, and the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Dozens of experts contributed to this initiative.


Key Resources


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