Planning for School Safety: A Case Study of Earthquake Affected Bagh Town in Azad Jammun and Kashmir, Pakistan

  • Dr. S. Shabih-ul-Hassan Zaidi Professor and Dean, Faculty of Architecture and Planning, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore
Keywords: Earthquake disaster, School Safety, Seismic Resistant Buildings, Building and Planning Codes


School children are the most valuable asset of a society. Schools play an ever increasingly important role in the life of
communities throughout the world. Unfortunately, schools are also places of immense vulnerability when located in
areas of high seismic activity. In national disaster risk management plans, however, schools have not been given
adequate attention, and poor disaster management has too often left them isolated, inaccessible in times of disaster
and away from relief and rescue efforts.
Previously, the Planning guidelines only placed emphasis on environmental and traffic hazards in selecting locations
for Schools. Now a days, safety of schools is even more desired, since they are exposed to natural disasters such as
earthquakes, floods, fire, heavy rains etc. In Pakistan earthquake of October 08, 2005 had caused a large number of
casualties of the school children in Azad Jammun and Kashmir (AJK). This was mainly because of poor construction
and bad location of schools. In order to safeguard school children from the above mentioned hazards, we need to plan
our schools in such a way that they become safe buildings for children and they do not fall prey to these hazards. In
this connection, the location, standard of construction, space standards and accessibility to the schools are the
important issues to be considered while planning for safe schools. This paper, by taking the example of earthquake
affected Bagh town in AJK, Pakistan, portrays the lessons learnt and attempts to present some recommendations for
ensuring safety of schools through proper Town Planning.