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Hazards Education in the Himalayas

In June 2014 a conference took place in Leh (Ladakh Region, India) with a focus on sustainable resource development in the Himalayas. The conference was organised by the Geological Society of London in collaboration with the Institute of Energy Research and Training at the University of Jammu, India and many other stakeholders. It examined a range of issues, including geohazards, access to clean water, energy resources and energy efficiency, and geotourism.

Students' Programme

At the core of sustainable resource development in the Himalaya region is the education and engagement of young people. Effective management of local resources will require geologists, engineers and environmental scientists with first-hand knowledge of the region. An important component of this project therefore, was a series of interactive educational students’ programme. We worked alongside other partners to develop and deliver teaching material on natural hazards, vulnerability and disasters to school children living in a region at high risk of multiple natural hazards. Our work focused primarily on landslides, with some work on earthquakes also undertaken. Our contribution to this project was used as an opportunity to engage and train young geoscientists from across our UK network.

The first programme gathered students (aged 14-15) and teachers/assistants from across several schools close to Leh (Ladakh) for a two-day interactive workshop. A series of lessons were delivered to these students on key topics of (i) climate change, natural resources and energy conservation, (ii) natural hazards: disaster risk reduction and landslides, and (iii) natural hazards: earthquakes and how to measure them. Geology for Global Development were involved in coordinating this programme and delivering lessons relating to hazards and disaster risk reduction (working in partnership with Paul Denton, BGS School Seismology Project).

The second programme was held for one day in Nyoma Residential School. The school is in a military restricted zone and doesn’t receive many visitors. The students are mostly from rural areas or nomadic families that are isolated in winter months and are particularly vulnerable to landslide and earthquake hazards. The third students programme was held at Puga Residential School, a purpose built school for Changpa nomadic children. The programme was adapted to be age appropriate as the students were much younger.