05/07/2012 – Tsesi, Georgia; 14 year old Nikoloz Maisashvili points at his desk and bed and explains how he moved them away from the window so not to get injured in case of an earthquake. He opens a black back-pack, the “go-bag”, which contains a torch, some water, his families’ vital documents like birth certificates, and other essential items. ’I've learned how to be prepared for disasters in school‘ he explains to Nino Chutkerashvili, a Georgian TV journalist. ‘Part of our homework was to prepare a family emergency plan. We had to draw the house, find dangerous areas and take measures to prevent accidents and injuries. Our gas bottle for cooking is now outside the house‘ he says, showing her the exact location.
Nikoloz is one of around 3,000 children in Georgia’s north western Ambrolauri region who participated in the so-called ‘family plan drafting’, an initiative to reduce the impact that natural disasters can have on lives and livelihoods. This initiative involved 60 schools and their teachers who discussed different types of natural disaster with the children, and asked them in a questionnaire how they would develop basic measures to improve the safety of their families. It was launched in the framework of ECHO’s disaster risk reduction programme – DIPECHO – by the Danish Red Cross together with the Georgia Red Cross. Asked why he took up this subject so eagerly to be rewarded with a prize, Nikoloz answers ’because it is for our own safety’
Nino Chutkerashvili is a good listener. She is the journalist in the production team of LEPL, Georgia’s national broadcaster. The company is working on a documentary on the impact of DIPECHO. ‘Every year we report about houses being destroyed, crops being lost because of landslides or floods. We are in the 21st century; we should no longer be so exposed to small natural disasters. Here we see many simple measures funded by DIPECHO which can make a difference. People need to know about this’.
‘The success of the DIPECHO programme relies to a large extent on awareness-raising and advocacy,’ explains Ketevan Lomsadze, ECHO’s programme officer in Georgia. ‘We need to make the authorities, other donors and the population aware of the simple disaster risk reduction measures our projects promote. A lot of it is based on planning, training and information, which can easily be replicated at community level. I hope that this documentary will contribute to opening people’s eyes and minds. After all it is for our safety.’
ECHO’s Disaster Risk Reduction Programme DIPECHO was launched in the South Caucasus in April 2010 for a first phase of 18 months. The emphasis was on community-based prepared ness and the introduction of disaster risk reduction in the education system. The second phase of the programme has been launched in spring 2012
By Heinke Veit
Regional Information Officer, Amman