A rapid desk based survey: school construction and retrofitting to achieve disaster resilience


This study provides evidence in support of the main objective: To undertake a rapid desk based study to identify the evidence and apparent gaps in evidence, in the school construction design and retrofitting to achieve disaster resilience, to inform the development of a DFID business case. To meet the objective, a search of publically available material was undertaken as a desk exercise.

The rapid desk study did not find significant statistical evidence to demonstrate that safer school buildings have resulted in a reduction of loss of life, injuries, or disruption. However, post-2015 Nepal earthquake studies provided some evidence that safer schools save lives, prevent injury and reduce disruption.

There is a great deal of evidence for the impacts on increased loss of life, injuries and increase in disruption to services from not having safer schools.

The evidence shows that safer school projects do bring benefits to the community other than the ‘hard’ infrastructure, including improved preparedness, technical skills and livelihoods. The evidence found was generally anecdotal and there did not appear to be many monitoring evaluation and learning studies, especially post-disaster.

There are numerous examples of national and international projects to improve the structural and non-structural safety of schools. The evidence found that projects generally focus on common areas, such as the structural safety – either through retrofitting or new build, codes and standards, or labour skills in resilient construction. A holistic approach, with preparedness elements supporting technical interventions, appeared successful in many cases.

The evidence did not find absolute global standards relating to safer schools. Most standards comprise advisory initiatives to help ensure a holistic view is taken of disaster risk reduction work in schools and provide minimum standards in various thematic areas both technical and non-technical. These are generally ‘high level’, programmatic aims, which have been developed by global actors involved with school safety. These global standards are then adopted by implementation organisations within their safer school programmes.

This report has been produced by IMC Worldwide Ltd for Evidence on Demand with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by DAI (which incorporates HTSPE Limited) and IMC Worldwide Limited.


Fitzmaurice, S. A rapid desk based survey: school construction and retrofitting to achieve disaster resilience. Evidence on demand, UK (2015) i + 48 pp. [DOI: 10.12774/eod_hd.november2015.fitzmaurices]

A rapid desk based survey: school construction and retrofitting to achieve disaster resilience

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.