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Education

Protecting Schools in Armenia from Earthquakes

  • Project Name: Seismic Safety Improvement Program
  • Region/Country: Armenia
  • Sector and Themes: Education
  • Year: 2016–Present
  • Project Leaders: Gohar Mousaelyan
Protecting Schools in Armenia from Earthquakes
The program is improving school seismic safety to reduce casualties and damage in schools during earthquakes.

The newly built schools have created a unique environment that will contribute to the change in the worldview of the students, contributing to their development.

—Artur Soghomonyan, executive director, Armenian Development Territorial Fund

Development challenge

Since the massive Spitak earthquake in 1988, national authorities in Armenia have taken numerous steps to develop emergency management and response systems and to improve building design and construction. To become earthquake resilient, approximately 1,000 of the country’s 1,400 schools required strengthening and reconstruction work, at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion. ADB is supporting ongoing efforts of the Government of Armenia to rebuild and strengthen school buildings to higher earthquake-resistant standards and to further develop the government's capacity, ownership, and initiative in the management of earthquake risks.

Solution

ADB provided $89.3 million in assistance to help Armenia build earthquake-resilient schools and scale up its capacity for responding to natural disasters. The program focuses on the four priorities in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015–2030: understanding disaster risk; strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk; investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience; and enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and rebuilding better in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. The program is improving school seismic safety to reduce casualties and damage in schools during earthquakes and enabling better use of school buildings as shelters for the general public and as focal points for emergency response after earthquakes. Thus, the program has also supported the implementation of the Armenia National Disaster Risk Management Strategy.

Knowledge products and services delivered

The capacity building component included improving the capacity of approximately 60 engineers, construction managers, and workers in seismic strengthening construction technology, knowledge, techniques, and skills. The program also updated and harmonized national building codes with international standards for seismic safety. These initiatives helped the government to improve its systems and enhance its already strong ownership, invest in school seismic strengthening and renovation using its own systems, and develop a platform for implementing investment projects funded by development partners.

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The program updated and harmonized national building codes with international standards for seismic safety.

Impact and results

The project will benefit approximately 58,700 students, teachers, and other staff, as well as more than 87,000 residents living near the target schools, who will have access to improved temporary shelters during earthquakes. ADB’s loan and grant will support improvements to at least 46 priority schools. It will also help the target schools develop disaster preparedness and response plans, with earthquake awareness campaigns to be carried out in neighborhood communities for each school.

Lessons for Replication

The school survey examined many previously unknown attempted activities: the costs of conducting a survey of building vulnerability, the technical expertise required for this type of survey, and the costs involved in strengthening existing vulnerable buildings. These factors can be considered if this project gets implemented in another country.

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The program helped enable better use of school buildings as shelters for the public and as focal points for emergency response after earthquakes.

The completed schools are not only earthquake resistant[SB2] but also are inclusive, providing access for persons with disabilities, and they have comfortable gymnasiums, canteens, laboratories, and libraries. The program has given impetus to revise the approach to school design to comply with 21st century educational standards.

—Gohar Mousaelyan, project officer, ADB