IN CONTEXT School-Based Hazard Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment Keywords: HVCA, hazard assessment, child participation, Lao People’s Democratic Republic In 2013, when the Lao Ministry of Education and Sport undertook an Education Sector Analysis, they realised they knew little about the state and safety of school buildings and grounds. The ministry needed this information to improve their decision-making processes to support comprehensive school safety, education sector development, and strategic and financial planning. SECTION III: PLANNING Understanding and improving school safety was based on first understanding the issues in each community. In three provinces of Lao PDR (Bolikhamxay, Luang Prabang and Sayaboury), Save the Children helped to gather this information. In each community, the Village Education Development Committee and the School Disaster Management focal person led a school-based Hazard, Vulnerability, and Capacity Assessment (HVCA). Simultaneously, a Village Disaster Management Committee considered hazard and vulnerability issues across the village. Save the Children ensured children, people with disabilities, women, and ethnic minority groups were part of these committees to harness the power of diverse perspectives. “hipped” profile which is better able to withstand high winds and hence less likely to be torn off and risk the safety of children and communities. In densely forested areas, other committees ensured flammable roof thatch was replaced with clay and metal roofing for wildfire protection. In flood-prone areas, they purchased waterproof containers and installed high shelves to keep educational materials dry. School staff and communities also improved school safety by addressing site and functional problems. Communities planted trees to stabilise steep slopes and dug out clogged drainage canals. School staff replaced hinges, allowing exterior doors to swing outward to speed student evacuation. Communities developed creative local solutions to other problems, like access to water and sanitation, and unsafe school routes. On International DRR day, VDMC member presents the risk reduction intervention to children and community members and how it is contributing to community safety. Photo: Thanoudeth Vongkhamsouk/Save the Children. At schools, the committees first sensitised their students and communities using games and activities, based on nationally approved consensus-based DRR Key Messages. The school-based activities helped students, staff, and parents understand better regional hazards and construction techniques that would make their schools safer when these hazards struck. School principals, teachers and education staff led communities in the hazard, vulnerability, and capacity assessment. Communities identified the hazards their school was likely to experience and catalogued school deficiencies. These, together with proposed solutions, were formed into a School Disaster Management Plan. District-level technical working groups, consisting of government authorities and representatives of NGOs and educational staff, used quality checklists to review these plans and sign plans that met all checklist items. With an authorised plan in hand, the Village Education Development Committees were ready to lead school repairs to improve safety. With funds and technical guidance from Save the Children, some of the activities the Village Education Development Committees undertook included modifying school roofs to have a 47 As part of a larger planning effort in Bolikhamxay, Laos, school children played a safe construction card game. With new knowledge about hazard-resistant construction techniques, school communities devised and implement plans to make their schools safer. Photo: Thanoudeth Vongkhamsouk/Save the Children.