Disaster risk reduction knowledge among children in Muzarabani District, Zimbabwe

Chipo Muzenda, Bernard Manyena, Andrew E Collins

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Consistent with the Hyogo Framework for Action and its successor, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Zimbabwean government has assigned the national mandate towards disaster risk reduction (DRR) and its integration in education and awareness programmes in schools and communities. In this regard, DRR awareness and training programs have already been initiated in schools and communities, mainly through non-governmental organisations and the Department of Civil Protection. However, the effectiveness of these education and awareness programs among children who relay DRR knowledge and its effect on risk perception have not yet been evaluated. This study therefore explores the extent to which the disaster education programmes influenced risk perception among the children in Muzarabani, one of the disaster-prone areas of Zimbabwe. Using a qualitative approach, 40 individual interviews and four focus group discussions were held with school-going children between 8 and 18 years. Results indicated that children had a good basic knowledge about the disaster risks they were facing. Ranking the hazards according to their severity and frequency, children indicated that droughts were most common, but floods were the most severe. Floods were described as the most frightening, dangerous, destructive, and sometimes unpredictable. The sight of collapsed houses and schools was disturbing for children and served as a reminder of past danger and something that is likely to happen repeatedly. Children developed understanding of drought and floods from experience, school, and family. The memorability of past events had led to heightened perceptions of risk which implies that the respondents perceived risks to the extent or magnitude that they had previously experienced them. The fact that children were worried and aware that they were at risk does not mean that they were prepared and would be actively involved in risk reduction. Worry was not the main link between awareness and preparedness. Preparedness depended on the availability of resources, political commitment, and social support not on level of awareness and worry. Children had the disaster knowledge but had limited coping capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalNatural Hazards
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Children
  • Disaster knowledge
  • Preparedness
  • Response
  • Worry
  • Risk perception

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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