Preparing Communities in High Risk earthquake Zones in India

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The organisation: GeoHazards Society (GHS) has been working with communities in multi-hazard prone areas for making them safer against future hazards. We work with communities that are remote and are not served by other preparedness programmes. We work in facilities that are dear to the community including schools and health facilities. In our work with schools, we had even developed a school safety mobile application (Thales-GHS School Safety App for Android) for helping schools prepare their disaster management plans. We plan to modify the App with additional safety features and also to bring in users with iPhones.
The location and problem : The district of Kangra in North India, nestled in the Himalayas is among the most naturally beautiful districts in India. However, it has a secret and a dark past. Over a century ago, it had been the epicentre of a killer earthquake that took over 20,000 lives. So devastating was that event, that no earthquake on Indian soil has caused the loss of more lives. Yet.
The Earthquake Hazard map below shows the district is criss-crossed by major faults that had created the Himalayas and is an extension of the faults that created the 2015 Nepal earthquakes.

A century is a long enough time for a community to forget the losses cause by that event and carry on with life with no appreciation of the risk they are living with. Kangra is after all, one of the most multi-hazard prone districts of India, prone to earthquakes, landslides, flash floods and fires. The risk here is exacerbated because of the lack of awareness. There has been very little by way of awareness building and preparedness in the district except some beginnings made by the district administration.
GHS’s solution: It is often said that awareness starts from schools and GHS believes that disaster preparedness efforts should start in schools. We believe that working in Girls schools and with Government schools with a special focus on girl students will help educate the community better. Hence, GHS proposes to address this issue by sowing the seeds of preparedness through our efforts in twenty schools with special focus on girl students in Kangra.
The photo below, taken by Hari, GHS in one of the schools shows why we must work hard to keep our schools safe in our communities

The students, teachers and community members involved in the schools will be encouraged to take up school safety and family preparedness within their own families and communities. The school app will be updated and used in all schools to help spread preparedness.GHS will a) take up training programmes for teachers , students, parents, community members b) assist in developing preparedness plans for all twenty schools c) conduct school preparedness drills in all twenty schools d) initiate community awareness programmes in addition to e) updating the Thales-GHS School safety App. (Even today, it is the only App in Google Play store that addresses School safety https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.geohaz.school_safety.tt.in&hl=en )
We will be working closely with the District administration and the education officer so that the project is sustainable and replicated in all schools in the district regardless of ownership. We look forward to your support to make this happen!!

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