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Global Disaster Preparedness Center/Sustainability Frontiers Research Partnership

by | 26th July 2016

David Selby and Fumiyo Kagawa have just completed a seven-month research partnership and consultancy for the Global Disaster Preparedness Research Center (GDPC), a Reference Center of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The aim of the partnership/consultancy has been to undertake a comparative review of the Pillowcase Project, a youth disaster preparedness program first implemented in New Orleans in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and inspired by the example of college students carrying their most precious belongings in pillowcases as they were evacuated. Thereafter it spread across the United States supported by funding from the Walt Disney Company to very positive response and, with further Disney funding, moved to international piloting in six countries/jurisdictions in 2014 (Australia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Peru, the United Kingdom, Vietnam).


The Pillowcase program involves a 60-90 minute session for 8-11 year old students based upon local disaster hazards and designed to foster basic disaster coping skills and a general preparedness to take action in the face of disaster risks and impacts.

To identify the different implementation styles and strategies across the originating country and six piloting countries as occasioned and influenced by context and culture and, secondarily, to assess the effectiveness and impact of the Project, the Sustainability Frontiers team has conducted a comparative study that:

  • Critically examines and compares the narrative of development, adaptation, implementation and rollout of the Pillowcase Project in the seven participating countries
  • Seeks to identify the optimal means of enriching program quality, effectiveness and impact while also enhancing capacity for replication and adoption with other age groups and in other national and cultural contexts
  • Explores linkages and overlaps between the Pillowcase Project and the Comprehensive School Safety Framework (CSSF) and between the Project and the directions and outputs of the Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES)
  • Makes recommendations for the future development and directions of the Pillowcase Project with regards to curriculum development, program replication with younger and older students, curriculum progression, fuller integration with school curricula, scalability and sustainability.

The work has involved analysis of Project documentation from each of the seven participating countries as well as general documentation on child-centered disaster risk reduction. Additionally, the team has conducted empirical research largely in the form of semi-structured interview with key Project stakeholders (most interviews taking place at the international Pillowcase Project Workshop held at Hong Kong Red Cross Headquarters, 23-26 February 2016).

A comprehensive 107-page report has been submitted to GDPC and will be published. On 27 and 28 July 2016 zonal webinars, organized by GDPC, are being facilitated by the Sustainability Frontiers team as a means of discussing the report with Pillowcase teams.

For the earlier (January 2016) announcement of the consultancy, click here.