D11 Community buildings

DisastersBuilding

In every community there are public buildings that provide important social and spiritual functions. These buildings should be made safer than other buildings, partly because so many people use them, but also because in a disaster they can be used as emergency shelters.

  • Consider any large buildings, in or near your community, such as schools, churches, halls or offices that could be used for this purpose. Buildings that can be used as emergency shelters should be built on raised ground if flooding is a risk. They need secure roofs that would withstand cyclones.
  • Community meetings could decide on a plan for improving such buildings. For example, maybe a block of classrooms is selected. Community members could work together to strengthen the roofs. A large water tank could be built. The school latrines could be extended. A secure cupboard or storeroom could be added in which emergency supplies could be stored.

Discussion 
  • How can the safety of public buildings be improved? Are they safe from flooding, fire or strong winds? Can an experienced engineer inspect the buildings?
  • Prioritise the essential needs for an emergency shelter in your own community, considering the most likely disaster situation.
  • What kind of emergency supplies should be kept in a secure cupboard or storeroom? These could include things such as torches, candles, fuel, jerrycans, cooking pots, matches, plastic sheeting, medical supplies, food and water supplies, small radios and batteries. Which of these should always be available and which could be obtained in the hours before a natural disaster strikes (assuming several hours warning is given for floods or cyclones)?
  • Who should hold the key of the secure cupboard or storeroom? Who should have routine access to a community water tank built for emergencies?
  • Could you organise a search in each public building to discover any risks? Look for things such as steps in awkward places that people can fall down, exposed electrical cables or broken door latches. Also consider more detailed issues, such as raising electrical wires from floor level to window height in areas likely to be flooded.
  • Will there be enough space? Will the special needs of women and babies be met?