International Journal of Health System and Disaster Management

: 2015  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 20--27

Assessment of disaster risk reduction knowledge of school teachers in Nepal

Gangalal Tuladhar1, Ryuichi Yatabe2, Ranjan Kumar Dahal3, Netra Prakash Bhandary2,  
1 Himalaya Conservation Group, Kathmandu, Nepal
2 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Ehime University, Matsuyama, Japan
3 Department of Geology, Tri Chandra Campus, Tribhvuan University, Ghantaghar, Kathmandu, Nepal

Correspondence Address:
Gangalal Tuladhar
Himalaya Conservation Group, Kathmandu


Background: Nepal is a Himalayan mountainous country and it is extremely vulnerable to various natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, windstorms, droughts and other ecological hazards. Every year, the disaster statistics of Nepal are awful which always motivate and justify the urgent need of disaster risk reduction (DRR) works in Nepal. The World Disaster Reduction Campaign for 2006-2007 (Disaster Risk Reduction begins at school) has started various initiatives worldwide to make school safer from disaster and Nepal has also started to include disaster education in school as its program of mainstreaming the disaster risk reduction in education sector. In this context, few education programs for disaster risk reduction were already initiated in Nepal and few positive results were already documented. However, evaluation of the real ground scenario from independent research is still lacking. Aim: This research aims to explore existing knowledge of school teachers in Nepal about disaster risk reduction. Materials and Methods: Altogether 106 teachers from 19 districts of Nepal were interviewed and various questions related to disaster information, disaster knowledge, readiness, awareness, adaptation, and risk perception were asked to the teachers. The school principal, or the vice-principal or the assistant principal is selected for the interview. Their respond on DRR issues certainly help to accumulate realistic scenarios of DRR among education leaders of Nepal. They were 13% of female and 87% of male participants. Statistical Analysis: Statistical analysis, such as histogram analysis, distribution analysis, bivariate correlations and independent sample t-tests were conducted to examine the relationship between teachers and their knowledge on key DRR issues related dependent variables. Result and Conclusion: Finding of this independent research confirmed that initiatives taken for DRR in education sectors of Nepal is not enough and still teachers are not fully aware of DRR issues. The research also found that teachers are not well informed of elements in disaster risk and related knowledge of DRR. In Nepal, the DRR education must be promoted to communities through the well-groomed school teachers to reduce disaster risk in community and to establish disaster safe society.

How to cite this article:
Tuladhar G, Yatabe R, Dahal RK, Bhandary NP. Assessment of disaster risk reduction knowledge of school teachers in Nepal.Int J Health Syst Disaster Manage 2015;3:20-27

How to cite this URL:
Tuladhar G, Yatabe R, Dahal RK, Bhandary NP. Assessment of disaster risk reduction knowledge of school teachers in Nepal. Int J Health Syst Disaster Manage [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Jun 21 ];3:20-27
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Expression of potential loss in lives, health status, livelihoods, assets and services after impact of natural hazard is called disaster risk. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a systematic approach to identify, assess and reduce disaster risk. DRR always minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risk in a society. It prevents and mitigates many adverse effects of natural hazards and, finally, it facilitates sustainable development process. The Second World Conference on Disaster Reduction was held in January 2005 in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan; it adopted a Framework for Action 2005-15 that is 'Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters'. This is well known as Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and it provided a unique opportunity to promote a strategic and systematic approach to reduce vulnerabilities and risks. The expected outcome of HFA was substantive reduction in losses of lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of societies. HFA states that countries must use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. Furthermore, it suggests that disasters can be reduced substantially if people are well informed and motivated about measures they can take to reduce vulnerability. [9]

Being a Himalayan mountainous country, variable geo-climatic conditions and young geology have made Nepal susceptible to various natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, windstorms, droughts and other ecological hazards. Due to its predominant mountainous terrain of the north and low-lying plains in the south drained by some of the largest rivers on the earth originating in the Himalaya, and dominated by the strong monsoonal rain, the country is overwhelmed by floods and landslides. Likewise, situated at the boundary of the colliding Indian and Eurasian plates, geologically, it is situated in one of the most earthquake prone regions of the world, and has experienced devastating earthquakes in the past and expects large earthquake within this century. Poverty, physical isolation, lack of education and awareness in planning and preparedness, low levels of infrastructure and capacity development, unplanned settlements, and limited sustained service delivery further exacerbate the country's vulnerability to disasters. In the world, Nepal is in seventh position for deaths resulting as consequences of floods, landslides and avalanches combined and in eighth position for flood related deaths. [1] In an average, per day at least two people die in Nepal due to natural disaster. [2] These disaster statistics always motivate and justify the urgent need of DRR works in Nepal. Therefore, 168 countries adopted the HFA including Nepal and so far the Government of Nepal (GoN) has assigned the national mandate towards DRR and mainstreaming the DRR in its programs.

Based on HFA, various international non-governmental organizations have begun an ambitious program designed to reduce people's vulnerability to natural disasters, building on the role of schools in the community. The programs are initiated through the schools because schools are the most omnipresent institutions by the state, they offer an opportunity to create a disaster aware generation, they also act as safe havens during disaster, they act as stabilizing centers during and after disasters. The World Disaster Reduction Campaign for 2006-7 (DRR begins at school) has started various initiatives worldwide to make school buildings safer and have DRR taught in school. [3] In Nepal also, after 2006, many programs has been implemented. Few changes have also been done in school curricula. [4] Moreover, many programs have been also initiated both from governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Nepal. [5],[6],[7],[8] Raising awareness within school communities is the well-implemented program to be conducted in the schools. This awareness activity include training of teachers; organizing disaster quiz competitions; school contests on DRR knowledge; campaigning for disaster safety; and turning school students into catalysts and initiators and many more awareness activities. Establishing a sense of prevention is another widely implemented practice in Nepal for DRR initiatives. For this purpose, NGOs are involved in developing disaster education materials; coordinating for mainstreaming DRR into school curricula or national education systems; teaching with alternative or innovative methods to educate children, youth and parents about DRR issues. Another most famous and result oriented program initiated by NGOs is making the school building safer. In this program, NGOs and Ministry of Education, GoN are involving for assessing vulnerability of school facilities; retrofitting school buildings; building earthquake-resistant schools; relocating schools, which are in high disaster risk areas; building new schools in low disaster risk areas. Results and progress of few DRR initiatives taken in schools of Nepal were well documented. [5],[6],[4] Nowadays, Nepal has also started to include disaster risk reduction into education system and curricula. [7]

In this context, this research aimed to explore effectiveness of DRR works in school of Nepal to enhance DRR knowledge of the school teachers. Specifically, this research examines following aspect of DRR knowledge of the school teachers and evaluates effectiveness of recent DRR programs in schools.

Knowledge of disaster related information with the school teachersThe relationship between the opinion of school teachers and disasters as suchVulnerability of school building and knowledge of teachersThe response on the commonly available key DRR issues in the community and understanding of the school teachers.

Study area

Nepalese education system can be classified into two categories: School education and higher education. School education includes primary level of grades 1-5, lower secondary, secondary levels and higher secondary levels of grades 6-8, 9-10 and 11-12, respectively. In many urban areas, private schools are providing educations. But public schools are main education center in rural and sub-urban areas which are responsible for compulsory education from grades 1 to 12. In total, there are 31,156 schools in Nepal; out of which, 20,345 schools are primary level school.

In this research, all kind of schools are selected for data collection. Both geographical distribution and type of schools are taken into consideration for random sampling. Principal or vice-principal was interviewed from each school. Nineteen districts, which were randomly selected for the data collection are shown in [Figure 1]. Districts were selected as per the existing activities of non-governmental organizations in those districts, nearby districts, disaster history, [9] rainfall distribution and associated disasters, [10] recent earthquake disaster [11] were also taken into account. The study was conducted in assumptions that the school teachers are now well informed with DRR issues in the form of various DRR activities and program of both national and international non-governmental organization. [4],[5],[6],[7] {Figure 1}

 Materials and Methods

This research was intended to explore knowledge of DRR in school teachers in Nepal and it also explores future perspectives and demands that underpin relationships between existing DRR programs and perception of the school teachers towards DRR. This research used a qualitative research approach to accumulate sufficient information leading to understanding the perceptions of school teachers in DRR. Holistic, environmental and contextual qualitative research approach is the most convenient one in this type of research because of its nature in studying people's perceptions. [12],[13],[14]

For the survey, a data sheet was developed and 106 school principals (participants) from the randomly selected schools were interviewed. Either school principal or vice-principal or assistant principal is selected for interview, because principals are sole responsible for both academic as well as administrative system of the Nepalese schools. Their respond on DRR issues certainly help to accumulate realistic scenarios of DRR among education leaders of Nepal. They were 13% of female participants and 87% of male participants. This data clearly reveals that males are predominating in school job. The participants' ages ranged from 24 to 71 years with a mean age of 41.14 years (SD = 9.73). In Nepal, in many schools, young teachers are serving as vice-principal or as assistant principal and higher age teachers are serving as principal.

Suggestions in the available literature [15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26] are adapted to prepare survey questionnaires. Teachers were asked to indicate if they have experienced disasters in their life and a specific terrible disaster they have faced. Additionally, teachers were asked to indicate the source of disaster information in school.

Nepalese schools are exposed in various risk of disaster. Many schools are constructed on the flood plain, steep slopes and they have very limited source of water. In a community, most of the people think that the wasteland is the suitable place for school building construction. As a result, school buildings are constructed on very critical slope, on a landslide, near to a landslide, on a debris flow mouth and so on. In this research, questionnaires were asked to teachers to explore their understating of the elements at risk in school systems.

Questionnaires about various natural disasters were used to assess the knowledge of teachers and the best course of action to take from the system in the event of a disaster. Questions about teachers' knowledge on eight disasters (floods, landslides, earthquakes, fires, high winds, hailstorm, drought, extreme rainfall) were asked to the teachers to obtain five possible answers (1. Never, 2. Rarely, 3. Sometime, 4. Often, 5. Always).

Teachers were asked a series of 46 questions that addressed their knowledge of a number of issues related to disaster. Questionnaires related to food security to evacuation area and the likelihood of occurrence of disasters to understanding of disaster prone area was endorsed. Teachers were given 5 categories of answers as 1) Strongly disagree, 2) Disagree, 3) Agree, 4) Strongly agree, and 5) I don't know.

Interview with school teachers living in remote districts of Nepal was conducted with the help of enumerator from a local political party. Questionnaire was handed over to the teacher and asked to fill it. Next day it was collected by the enumerator. Enumerator selected school randomly and some were near to the district headquarter and some were far from the headquarter. Overall, the total time necessary for completion of each survey was reported to be 1 to 4 days, depending on distance of schools from the district headquarter.

The main aim of this study is to examine DRR knowledge of school teachers in Nepal. Therefore, histogram analysis, distribution analysis, bivariate correlations and independent sample t-tests were conducted to examine the relationship between teachers in disaster education related programs and the following key DRR issues related dependent (criteria) variables: Disaster-related knowledge, readiness behaviors, disaster awareness, disaster adaptations, and risk perceptions. Knowledge of teachers about the elements at risk in the system is also examine. A series of independent sample t-tests were conducted to examine the effects of age, gender, and disaster knowledge on the dependent variables. The various questionnaires asked during survey were accommodated within dependent variables and statistical analyses have been performed.


Gender and age effect in DRR issues

Demographic factors always possess some relationship with DRR process in the community. To explore these issues, preliminary analyses have been conducted to explore gender and age based grasping of disaster concept among the school teachers with two hypotheses that older teachers should have enough knowledge of DRR and there is no gender biased effect on DRR knowledge.

Effect of gender

An independent t-test [Table 1] suggested that there is statistically significant difference between disaster knowledge, disaster readiness, disaster awareness and disaster risk perception of female and male teachers because significance of t-test results are less than 0.05 (two-tailed) for almost all kind of key disaster issues.{Table 1}

Likewise, when teachers were asked for source of disaster information, more number of male teachers prefer national television (Nepal Television) broadcast [Figure 2]. Female teachers choose FM radios as major source for the information. Use of internet for disaster information update was very low among teachers. None of the female teachers were using internet for disaster update.{Figure 2}

Effect of age

Two age groups (<40 years and > 40 years) are categorized to evaluate the effect of age to grasp knowledge of key DRR issues. Independent t-test shows that both age groups have similar level of understanding of DRR as significance of t-test results are greater than 0.05 [Table 2].{Table 2}

Source of disaster information

Teachers were also interviewed to explore source of disaster information and information technological facilities such as computer, internet, multimedia and library facilities available in school. High number of younger teachers use television and radio to get disaster information than older teachers. However, high number of older teachers is more interested to get the disaster information from newspaper and internet compared with younger teachers [Figure 3].{Figure 3}

Understating of elements at risk

During the interview, teachers were asked with number of questions related to elements at risk of school system. Teachers were asked about type of building, roof, site location, ownership, slope angle of school site, sanitary system of school, and water availability. Four vulnerability categories (1: Worse, 2: Acceptable, 3: Good, 4: Very good) of each parameter were synthesized from the collected data and compared with teachers response in key disaster issue, such as disaster-related knowledge, readiness behaviors, disaster awareness, disaster adaptations, and risk perceptions.

In school teachers, knowledge of elements of risk and DRR issues is more or less same. Most of the teachers are not thinking that risk perception is important component for DRR, although their schools have worse elements of risk. [Figure 4] illustrates the normalize percentage of response of teachers on DRR issues with various levels of risk. Relatively higher percentage of teachers, who are living with worse elements at risk, are considering disaster preparedness as an important parameter of DRR. Similarly, slightly higher number of teachers, who are aware of worse element of risk in their area, also consider that the disaster knowledge is very import [Figure 4].{Figure 4}

Response to the DRR issues

In questionnaire survey, teachers were asked with number of disaster-related questions. After obtaining background information about schools, all teachers were asked if they have come across disaster in their life or not. A total of 67% of responders have come across the disaster and most of them responded that they had experienced storm, flood, earthquake, and landslide disasters [Figure 5]. Only 9% teachers responded that they had come across hail disaster in their life.{Figure 5}

The DRR issues (disaster knowledge, disaster readiness, disaster awareness, disaster adaptation, and disaster risk perception) were evaluated from five response indexes such as (1) Very important, (2) important, (3) not so important, (4) not important and 5) confusing. Initially, an null hypothesis was set that the distribution of response indexes are similar in all five DRR issues. The related samples Friedman's two-way analysis of variance by ranks (non-parametric) test suggested to reject the null hypothesis with 0.011 significance level. The histogram given in [Figure 6] also exclusively supports this non-parametric test result. Likewise, the numbers of responses in each key DRR issues are not equal and do not correspond to the decreasing trend from higher to lower importance. To obtain the histogram, normalize percentage of responses are used. The histogram analysis suggested that one-third of teachers are thinking that disaster risk perception is not necessary for DRR. More than 18% of teachers still do not think that readiness behavior is important task for DRR. However, response of teachers in disaster knowledge, readiness behaviors, awareness, adaptation have shown a satisfactory results because responses are decreasing from higher to lower important indexes [Figure 6].{Figure 6}

Insecurity from disasters

Teachers were asked about the level of insecurity from eight kind of common disasters. They responded five level of insecurity from the disasters. The responses clearly demonstrate their disaster risk perceptions. Most of the teachers felt that sometime they feel insecure from all kind of disasters [Figure 7], but they feel the maximum insecurity they face from earthquake, hail and extreme rainfall. About 25% of teachers are often worried of storm.{Figure 7}

Disaster risk perceptions of teachers are also evaluated from correlation matrix [Table 3]. Pearson correlation of response between various kinds of disasters suggests that teachers having fear of landslide equally have fear of flood, earthquake and fire. Similarly, teachers who feel insecure from earthquake, are also frightened of fire and storm. Interestingly, correlation matrix also suggests that teachers, who were feeling insecure of landslide and flood, did not think that extreme rainfall was also problematic.{Table 3}


Although GoN acclaimed HFA and has assigned the national mandate towards DRR and already mainstreaming the DRR in educational sectors, the real ground scenario in school is very different. Similarly, line agencies are claiming that DRR concept and disaster educations are already in the school curricula and teachers are getting DRR knowledge through awareness camping, trainings, meetings etc., but interviews with teachers and their response revealed different scenarios in the ground level and the findings are not encouraging.

Teachers are totally confused for disaster risk perception. However, satisfactory result was noticed in conceiving disaster knowledge, readiness behaviors, awareness and adaption. On an average, more than 7% of teachers are still confused on DRR issues. There is significant difference in knowledge of DRR issues among female and male teachers. Source of disaster information between male and female is distinct from each other. Higher numbers of both male and female teachers are using FM radio for disaster information and number of female teachers is high for using FM radio. Senior teachers are giving priority to newspaper as a major source of disaster information. Still very few teachers are using internet to obtain disaster information.

The analysis shows that teachers still do not have enough knowledge of disasters and mitigation. Although, 67% of teachers already faced disasters, and their opinion for disaster risk perception are somewhat unexpected and unrealistic. More than 25% of teachers still think disaster risk perception is not an important task for DRR. Teachers have similar opinion for key DRR tasks either having worse elements of risk or good elements of risk in their school systems. Fundamentally, teachers are not able to link up the elements of risk in school system with importance of DRR issues. This is a significant finding of this research.

Teachers are not aware of associated disasters with a major disaster. For example, after extreme rainfall disaster, there always exists high risk of hail, storm, flood and landslide in the Nepal Himalaya. But teachers have equal feeling of insecurity from earthquake, fire and drought together with extreme rainfall disaster. If they were aware of associated disasters, they were not expected to respond in such an awkward manner. However, for earthquake, teachers responded correctly regarding the associated disasters: Landslide and fire. Similarly, for landslides, they responded correctly to flood as an associated disaster.

Despite the fact that DRR program is satisfactory in Nepal, [7] teachers reported of perceiving a greater likelihood of being insecure in various kinds of disasters. But still most of the teachers do not have site-specific disaster knowledge and they are disquieting all kind of disasters in the similar manner. Nearly 40% of responders think that all eight kinds of disasters (flood, landslide, earthquake, fire, storm, hail, drought, extreme rainfall) sometime can occur in their area. In fact, this is not a realistic opinion because, when landslide, flood, storm and hail are there, drought cannot be so frequent.

The major limitation of this research was its co relational and cross-comparison methodology. However, given a less sample, the major findings of this research pointed out inefficiency of current DRR program in school of Nepal. The current findings must encourage line agencies who are working in DRR program in Nepal for modification in the approach and methodology for mainstreaming DRR in local level. Because this kind of independent research clearly shows the real ground scenario of DRR knowledge among stakeholders.


Nepal has already adopted the HFA and has assigned the national mandate towards DRR and mainstreaming the DRR in its various developing programs. [27],[28],[29] In March 2008, National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management has been promulgated and it pointed out that the level of DRR is conspicuously low at all levels of schools in Nepal. As a result, GoN has recommended strategic activities to develop and modify national policy on education and implementing it in such a way as to recognize schools as important center for propagating knowledge of DRR issues. [2] Later various programs for DRR in schools have been initiated. [7] The HFA emphasizes that DRR should be initiated from school for forming culture of disaster prevention. But finding of this independent research confirmed that initiatives taken for DRR education in Nepal is not enough. Major challenge for DRR, in a school community of country like Nepal, is implementing methods, especially at the individual level. Role of DRR programs in school is to provide enough knowledge and information to teachers. To achieve this goal, school teachers can be encouraged to know disaster related basic knowledge, readiness behavior, awareness programs, adaptation process and risk perception techniques. To raise disaster risk perception, more information that is suitable should be delivered to the school teachers. Without teachers knowledge, students cannot be benefited. Extra training and disaster education related special course can be provided to the teachers. Due to the lack of interest and knowledge, teachers are reluctant to give priority to disaster-related topics of curriculum and most of the time the course never taught to the students in their academic session. [4] This is a high time for the teachers to gain knowledge on disaster management and also to provide information through lectures, because pedagogy always has a key role in knowledge transmission and learning competencies. [28] It is a well-known fact that for the developing country like Nepal, government alone cannot take all actions for DRR in community. Thus, the DRR education must be promoted to communities through the well- groomed school teachers which is very essential to reduce disaster risk in community and this will contribute to establish disaster safety society.


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