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Toolkit on School and Hospital Building Safety in South Asia

Colombo, Sri Lanka, 5 March 2013

5 March 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Government representatives from Sri Lanka and the Maldives, professionals working in the construction sector, members of Professional Institutes and Non Governmental Organisations met recently at a workshop in Colombo to discuss the localisation of the "Tools for the Assessment of School and Hospital Safety for Multi-Hazards in South Asia". The workshop was organised by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) during 4th – 5th March 2013.

The two day workshop commenced with an introduction to the project "Tools for the Assessment of School and Hospital Safety for Multi-Hazards in South Asia" by UN-Habitat and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Mr. Laxman Perera, Country Programme Manager for UN-Habitat Sri Lanka, Ms Mariko Sato, Chief, UN-Habitat Bangkok Office, Ms Madhavi Malalgoda Ariyabandu, Regional Programme Officer, UNISDR, provided introductions to the initiative and toolkit. The Chief Guest at the event, Mrs. S. M. Mohomad, Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management of Sri Lanka, highlighted the need for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in new developments, and appreciated the timely focus on safety in schools and hospitals.

The technical sessions of the workshop provided participants with in depth knowledge of the toolkit and an opportunity to provide feedback on localisation. The toolkit is presented in two volumes in order to capture the different considerations for newly designed buildings and for buildings that require retro maintenance. Participants were provided training on how to use the toolkit which consists of a spreadsheet with pre-approved questions and considerations which are divided into Planning, Architectural, Structural and Non-structural themes that can be filled for different hazards. The spreadsheet then automatically calculates the multi-hazard risk level.

Workshop participants analysed the toolkit and identified elements that were appropriate to the Sri Lankan and Maldivian context as well as hazards that were not currently integrated in the toolkit but are critical to each country. Participants identified landslides as a necessary inclusion for Sri Lanka and sea level rise for the Maldives. They also discussed how the toolkit could assist their work and how it could be incorporated in government processes to ensure schools and hospitals, both new constructions and existing buildings, are multi-hazard safety compliant.

The project Tools for the Assessment of School and Hospital Safety for Multi-Hazards in South Asia is a joint initiative by the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in partnership with the South Asian Association for Cooperation (SAARC).

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