Training of teachers on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). In Serbia, adult education has a significant role to play in the DRR.

Adult education – a tool for risk resilience in Serbia?

Beside efforts to repair the damage, numerous education programs and research analyses have been initiated to increase resilience of citizens and communities all around Serbia.

29.06.2017

The Republic of Serbia has been faced with visible impacts of climate change in recent years. As a consequence of the floods that hit Serbia and the neighboring Western Balkan countries in 2014, many people faced serious challenges, such as loss of family members, material damage or necessity to leave their houses and find temporary shelter.

These events have resulted in valuable lessons learned for individuals and for the entire society.

The goal of disaster risk reduction is strengthening resilience of people and communities. Adult education has a significant role to play in this process, as proved by experiences, research data and analysis.

Beside efforts to repair the damage, numerous education programs and research analyses have been initiated to increase resilience of citizens and communities all around Serbia. These programs have been supported mainly by international organizations and implemented by national or local experts and organizations.

Here we discuss these initiatives and experiences with representatives of international donors, public national and local nongovernmental sectors in Serbia.

OSCE Mission to Serbia

Olivera Zurovac Kuzman

  • has been working in Democratic Governance Section of the OSCE Mission to Serbia as a National Environmental Affairs Officer since 2009.
  • The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia, is actively engaged in regional projects, over a period of 8 years, aiming at strengthening resilience and improving security.

Q1: In what way have you personally learned the most about climate induced natural disasters?

“I’ve learned through presentations of water and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) experts, engaged in Mission-supported seminars aimed at raising capacities of responsible authorities at local level on flood management. The statistics of historical weather extremes and climate model projections have had the most impact on my understanding of the need to combat climate change.”

Q2: Would you please give us an example of the role of education in disaster risk reduction that shows the positive effects in practice?

“DRR authorities at all levels, after undergoing training, have adopted a new approach to natural hazards caused by flood waters. The approach stipulates a concept of  ‘living with floods’ through strengthening community resilience, shifting from the traditional flood risk management concept.”

Q3: If you would be asked to choose one challenge in disaster risk reduction in Serbia (and Western Balkan Region), that can be addressed by adult education activities, what that would be?

“I would choose adopting day-to-day practices that reduce the level of green house gasses and improved urban planning policies.”

Q4:Where do you see the most potential for cooperation between your sector and adult education experts, in years to come?

“Increasing community resilience would be most effective through continuous support to the engagement of DRR experts in strengthening the capacities of stakeholders at all levels on the significance of integrating DRR and Climate Change adaptation. Also, I see potential in creating fora for improved coordination among key actors engaged in managing natural hazards and awareness raising of affected communities.”

National Training Center for emergency

Aleksandar Lazarević

  • works as the Head of the National Training Center for emergency, Ministry of Interior of Republic of Serbia, since 2005.
  • has participated in projects aiming at strengthening disaster resilience of local communities, nongovernmental organizations, vulnerable population as well as of public sector.

Q1. In what way have you personally learned the most about climate induced natural disasters?

“I have been learning about it during my studies, but also through long term practical experience and number of training programs and workshops.

I have gained tremendous experiences through the dramatic flood events in Serbia in 2014, working on projects with actors of prevention and protection from emergencies, from local to national level.

The most valuable was exchange of experiences from all the phases of disaster management – from risk assessments to recovery after dramatic events. You learn about it every day and it is – and has to be – never ending process.”

Q2. Would you please give us an example of the role of education in disaster risk reduction that shows the positive effects in practice?

“I would emphasize the effects that simulations have on increasing capacities of disaster management teams – from local to national level. These simulations are based both on scenarios of events that really happened and those which were projected within the risk assessments.

It is excellent opportunity for participants to build on their previous experiences, to get insights into weaknesses and points of improvement through exchange with others and reflections on decisions made.

It is a complex activity to organize and it requires competent facilitators. But it can be powerful in improving the practice of disaster management actors.”

Q3. If you would be asked to choose one challenge in disaster risk reduction in Serbia (and Western Balkan Region), that can be addressed by adult education activities, what that would be?

“Education of children in this field is of crucial importance. However, it is not possible without teaching adults; first of all parents and teachers.

It is also necessary to work with the most vulnerable groups who unfortunately suffer the most in emergencies. First of all, I mean elders and people with disabilities.”

Q4. Where do you see the most potential for cooperation between your sector and adult education experts, in years to come?

“In order to provide quality training for capacity development of all the actors in disaster risk reduction and management, our trainers need to be equipped with adult teaching competences – starting from training needs analysis, curriculum development, through training methodology – to evaluation  and improvement of future programs. I see great need to cooperate with adult education experts in that field – for the sake of quality training and better system of disaster management in Serbia.”

Arhus center, Novi Sad

Darija Sajin

  • works as a NGO activist, Arhus center, Novi Sad.
  • actively participated in numerous projects and partnerships between public and civil society sector, most recently in projects supported by the OSCE Mission to Serbia.
  • engaged in establishment and coordination of the Network for disaster risk reduction in Novi Sad, consisting of representatives from nongovernmental, governmental and private sector.

 

Q1. In what way have you personally learned the most about climate induced natural disasters?

“I’ve learned through exchange of information, knowledge and experiences between the members of the Network for disaster risk resilience. Teamwork and efforts on solving concrete problems in DRR, as well as workshops and roundtables organized, contributed a lot to my learning about these issues.”

Q2. Would you please give us an example of the role of education in disaster risk reduction that shows the positive effects in practice?

“Within the project aimed at strengthening of disaster risk resilience in local community, Arhus center published the manual called ‘Smart schools’, addressing teachers and all the partners in school life – including parents and local community. It provides useful ideas on their mutual engagement and has great practical value, which is recognized by teachers and school managers during the promotion of it. I expect it will have great influence on practice in this field in the future.”

Q3. If you would be asked to choose only one challenge in disaster risk reduction in Serbia (and Western Balkan Region), that can be addressed by adult education activities, what that would be?

“I would choose lack of awareness about the value of inter-institutional cooperation, as well as luck of knowledge of journalists about disaster risk and climate change issues.”

Q4. Where do you see the most potential for cooperation between your sector and adult education experts, in years to come?

“There is a huge niche for cooperation. In my opinion, first and foremost in capacity building of non-governmental sector is needed, to support implementation of internationally developed measures and policies in their local community. Every project we do requires that kind of experts’ support in knowledge sharing and improving of resilience of the public.”