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This series of photos shows how schoolgirls around the world are using knowledge gained from Plan International programmes to prepare their schools and classmates for natural disasters.

HAITI

Dina takes part in an evacuation exercise at her school
Dina takes part in an evacuation exercise at her school.

Haiti was hit hard by the devastating earthquake of 2010. It is important that students living in vulnerable areas understand the risks they face during disasters and how to protect themselves.

Get our newsletter“I had never seen a fire extinguisher before," says Dina, 14, from Port-au-Prince. "Our instructor did a short demo… now I know how it works. I will take the opportunity to teach my parents, friends and neighbours.

“My friends and I also ran through evacuation and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) drills. This project really taught us important things for our safety.”

NICARAGUA

A girl pointing out the danger zones on a map of her community
A girl pointing out the danger zones on a map of her community.

Nicaragua is among the top 10 countries most vulnerable to natural disasters. Hurricanes and floods often threaten the country’s densely populated coastal region.

Plan International, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, organised the first ever disaster preparation training camps in Villa El Carmen. 70 students attended the camp that focused on managing the risk and impact of disasters. The students put their new knowledge to use by developing effective safety plans for their schools.

"We learned the causes and effects of climate change and how to be prepared for emergencies such as earthquakes and flooding," says Desis Elena.

MYANMAR

Ma Myo Thu presenting her school's evacuation map
Ma Myo Thu presenting her school's evacuation map.

Plan International Myanmar works with students to set up early warning task forces, search and rescue teams and first aid teams in schools. Children are also taught how to develop their school’s evacuation map should a disaster strike.

Ma Myo Thu, 12, is responsible for developing and presenting her school evacuation map to classmates.

"I am proud to be a leader. By drawing evacuation maps, I can help my school and classmates around natural disasters.” 

NEPAL

Sabina preparing her classmates for a natural disaster
Sabina preparing her classmates for a natural disaster.

Nepal is among the most disaster-affected countries in the world. Disasters are becoming more frequent and school children are increasingly vulnerable.

I feel secure, confident and protected

When the earthquakes of 2015 struck Nepal, over 35,000 classrooms were destroyed and more than 1 million children did not have a school to return to.

“Information on disaster risk reduction is what everyone should know," says Sabina from Makwanpur District.

"The training I received from Plan International has given me life-saving skills. Now, I am prepared to respond to disasters like earthquakes and landslides. I feel secure, confident and protected.”

SOUTH SUDAN

Trees are providing shade and protecting the school environment in South Sudan
Trees are providing shade and protecting the school environment in South Sudan.

According to a UNEP report, South Sudan has lost an estimated 40% of its forests since 1956. The country faces environmental challenges such as land degradation, deforestation and the impacts of climate change.

As part of Plan International’s Safe Schools project, students plant trees to reduce risks related to man-made and natural disasters. We have supported 9 primary schools in Central Equatoria State, reaching more than 8,500 students.

“The trees make our school beautiful, create shade and an outside learning space,” says Jacinta. Jacinta’s Safe School club has planted 350 trees to provide shade, protect the environment and act as windbreakers. 

CAMBODIA

Hem leading a disaster simulation exercise at her school
Hem leading a disaster simulation exercise at her school.

Hem is the Children’s Council leader at a primary school in Cambodia and helps keep her classmates safe during storms.

“There was a big lightning storm. It hit the school and the roof fell down. The children were screaming. I felt afraid and didn’t want to go to school,” says Hem.

The Children’s Council suggested installing a lightning rod to keep students safe during future storms. “We participate and give our ideas. I feel proud that students don’t have to worry about lightning while studying,” she says.

TOGO

A school environmental club planting trees in Togo
A school environmental club planting trees in Togo.

In Togo, storms destroy school structures and children are often left without a classroom for months at a time.

To ensure their education is not interrupted, children have developed ‘green spaces’ around their schools. These serve as a barrier to block strong winds from damaging school buildings.

"We learned how to plant seeds so they can grow to become trees and protect our school. We also learned that girls can do the same work in the nursery as the boys,” says Affo Yawa, an environmental school club member.

Learn more about our work on girls in emergencies