From school renovation towards disaster-resilient communities: The story of Binh Thanh 2 primary school

Alongside the beautiful Tra Bong River, Quang Ngai province, Binh Thanh 2 primary school is the education home for 670 students. The school’s located near the coast so it is vulnerable to typhoons. “Our school roof used to be blown off in 2017 and we replaced the new roof, with inappropriate typhoon resilient techniques applied. As a result, the roof cannot stand the intensity of typhoon Molave 2020. Our school again lost their shelter roof for education,” said To Van Duan, Principal of Binh Thanh 2 primary school.

Renovated Binh Thanh 2 primary school to be disaster-resilient  (August 2021)

Molave, one of the most devasting typhoons in decades, swept through Binh Son district, left behind hundreds of unroofed houses and schools, including Binh Thanh 2 primary school. Principal Duan indicated, “Our school was significantly damaged with blown off roof, no electricity and a run-down latrine causing the disruption in students’ education. Due to the lack of facilities, students were taught in makeshift classrooms, affecting their academic performance.”

In the post-disaster assessment, the Habitat Vietnam and GE foundation team realized the school needs financial and technical support to recover classrooms. The project team decided to support renovating six classrooms with appropriate typhoon resilient techniques, installing new electric system, providing of fans and lights, and building a new school latrine.

The linked truss frame system, beams and purlins

The roof applied appropriate typhoon resilient techniques with the galvanized iron sheets to ensure it was able to withstand storms/ strong winds. The truss frame system, beams and purlins were linked together to form an invariant system to ensure stability and certainty. The roof also used iron to anchor the purlin to the wall for stability and typhoon resilient twists instead of normal screws to guarantee the widest and surest friction force.

The new latrine is designed with separate sections for girls and boys with washbasins to encourage improved hygiene and it provides enough space for 40 students to use the latrine at the same time It also provides adequate and safe facilities for menstrual hygiene management of schoolgirls and accessible features for disabilities such as stable handrails, low ramps, and wide doors so wheelchairs can easily move in and out. “The old latrine was built over 10 years ago, so it was totally devasted after the typhoon. With the new latrine, students will feel more comfortable and safer. The handwashing facility also helps teachers deliver proper education on hygiene practices to students, especially protective measures during the pandemic,” Principal Duan shared.

Binh Thanh 2 primary school before and after renovation

Moreover, the school renovation with typhoon resistance standards plays an important role in the disaster preparedness in Binh Son district. “In disaster, the community house is usually used as an evacuation center; however, its capacity is just up to 100 people. With the new resilient feature, our school could contribute as an additional evacuation site with the capacity up to 300 people,” said Principal Duan. “Thanks to Habitat Vietnam and GE Foundation, not only our students get a safer and healthier school for their academic pursuits, but the community now also has a place to evacuate when necessary. In the upcoming time, we plan to integrate the knowledge on safe shelter in the curriculum of Grade 4 and 5 students to develop the risk reduction capacity for children and teachers, linking schools and communities.”