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In Jordan, Disaster Risk Reduction Program Prepares Vulnerable Communities for Earthquakes & Floods

“The more governments, UN agencies, organizations, businesses and civil society understand risk and vulnerability, the better equipped they will be to mitigate disasters when they strike and save more lives.”
—Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General

Each year natural disasters – including earthquakes, hurricanes and floods – affect millions of people worldwide, 66.5 million of whom are children. True to our mission, International Medical Corps works to build sustainable health care programs to ensure that disaster-stricken communities can become self-reliant. As such, an important facet of our health care and training work worldwide is Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programming. International Medical Corps’ DRR programs aim to reduce the damage caused by natural disasters through preparedness programs that involve all levels of society.

Having delivered health care and training in Jordan since 2007, International Medical Corps is now working with local agencies to implement a comprehensive DRR training in 24 schools in the southern part of the country. Jordan’s proximity to the Dead Sea Rift Valley, which extends along the entire length of the country’s western border, makes this region very susceptible to earthquakes and floods. In order to strengthen local capacity to deal with these types of disasters, our team in Jordan, in cooperation with UNICEF and the Jordanian Ministry of Education, will implement a DRR program targeting vulnerable schools and their surrounding communities located along the Dead Sea Rift Valley.

International Medical Corps’ DRR project strengthens local capacity in DRR preparedness activities on three levels: national (Ministry of Education officials), local (students and teachers) and community (leaders and other members). The threefold approach ensures sustainability of the project and greater reinforcement of DRR measures throughout society, especially among the most vulnerable members.

“International Medical Corps’ approach in which each part of the community is actively engaged in planning and adopting risk reduction measures creates more resilient communities in the long-run, able to cope with and recover if and when a disaster strikes,” says Seamus Jeffreson, International Medical Corps Jordan Country Director. “Committees made up of students, teachers, parents and other community members will form the strongest chain in raising awareness and knowledge of DRR and preparedness activities in this disaster-prone region.”

Facilitated by UNICEF, International Medical Corps will work with the Jordanian Ministry of Education at central and directorate levels to complete the project. The aim is to build up knowledge and capabilities within the Ministry and make the project sustainable.

International Medical Corps has also implemented DRR programs in vulnerable communities around the world including in Indonesia following the tsunami, in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and in Iraq and St. Lucia, among others. The Haiti earthquake demonstrated critical gaps in local disaster response capability, exacerbated by loss of infrastructure. Following the initial emergency response, International Medical Corps launched a disaster preparedness program to prepare local communities for the next possible disaster including hurricanes, floods, landslides, earthquakes, and disease outbreaks. Our teams trained firefighters, local community-based organizations, and Boy Scouts leaders in first aid, cholera, accidents, and other topics essential to preparedness and response. As a result of this program, more than 15,600 community members received information on disaster preparedness in a country that is highly prone to natural catastrophes.

In addition, International Medical Corps trained more than 300 Haitian physicians, nurses, and medics to provide emergency care and respond to future disasters. In December 2011, we also organized a disaster drill attended by approximately 100 medical volunteers practicing advanced techniques on minimizing deaths from large-scale natural disasters.