What are the links between education in emergencies and explosive ordnance risk education?
Landmines, cluster munitions, and other remnants of war disproportionately affect civilians. Among those exposed to these dangers are children, learners, teachers, and other education personnel. As such, explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) is an important part of education in emergencies (EiE), and the two sectors are linked in many ways.
Raising awareness of explosive ordnance and promoting behavioural change is an obligation for States Parties adhering to disarmament treaties like the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. States that have adopted the Political Declaration on the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) are also committed to 'facilitating the provision of risk education'. Beyond a legal obligation or a political commitment, the delivery of risk education remains a fundamental human right.
EORE is one of the five pillars of humanitarian mine action, along clearance, stockpile destruction, victim assistance and advocacy. In situations where clearance of explosive ordnance remains slow or unfeasible in the short term, EORE often emerges as a key protection activity that contributes to saving lives and fostering resilience within communities. This is especially the case in contexts where the presence of these hazards persists.
The interconnectedness of EORE and EiE is evident, despite their adherence to distinct sets of standards. Within the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Minimum Standards, a notable emphasis is placed on the need to inform and protect learners, teachers, and other education personnel from the dangers of ‘arms, ammunition, landmines and unexploded ordnance’ in and around the learning environment. In parallel, the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) dedicated to EORE offer comprehensive guidance on the design of risk education interventions tailored to the specific strengths, needs and vulnerabilities of at-risk groups, including in the school environment.
At the heart of the synergy between EiE and EORE lies the imperative of understanding the local context. This initial step encompasses the gathering, analysis, and regular assessment of data, all directed toward identifying the protection needs and priorities of vulnerable groups. Amid conflicts and emergencies, a holistic approach to school risk assessments becomes paramount to prevent and mitigate harm. By considering threats linked to the presence of explosive ordnance, these assessments can pave the way for the design of tailored and targeted risk education approaches, equipping girls, boys, women, and men with the knowledge and skills to stay safe in hazardous environments.
Within this framework, different EORE strategies can be implemented:
Lifesaving EORE campaigns in emergencies:
In emergencies, swift action is necessary to inform and protect as many people as possible from explosive hazards. In this case, EORE can be delivered through a mix of mass media (e.g. TV and Radio), digital media (e.g. social media), traditional media, or small media (e.g. posters and leaflets) to quickly raise awareness about the dangers of explosive ordnance and promote safer behaviors.
Integrating EORE into the school system:
For countries facing long-term explosive ordnance problems, integrating EORE into the school system and curriculum is a sustainable approach. This ensures that successive generations of learners are educated about the risks and know how to protect themselves. This strategy requires coordination with national authorities to determine the scope of implementation across schools.
Supplementary EORE activities in schools:
While curriculum integration can be vital, it may take time to achieve. In the interim, supplementary EORE activities can be conducted in schools. These efforts complement the formal education system and can target out-of-school children or those attending informal or religious schools. This approach helps reach vulnerable children who are at greater risks of violence, including explosive hazards.
Coordination and integration:
Effective EORE implementation requires strong national coordination by the National Mine Action Authority or – in its absence – an appointed organization. All relevant stakeholders, including mine action, education, and protection organizations, should participate in national coordination efforts to ensure a shared understanding of the threats, harmonized approaches and better risk mitigation.
Education in emergencies and explosive ordnance risk education are intrinsically linked and mutually reinforcing. By working across sectors, integrating explosive hazards into risk assessments, and embedding risk education into holistic responses, EORE can contribute to ensuring a safer environment for education in emergencies.
For those seeking to deepen their understanding of EORE and its relation to EiE, the 'Introduction to EORE Essentials' module, available in multiple languages (Arabic, English, French and Ukrainian) provides foundational knowledge. Those interested in a more comprehensive understanding can explore the 'Advanced EORE e-learning course,' which delves into the subject in greater detail.
Matthieu Laruelle works with the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) as Programme Manager of the Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) programme. Prior to joining the GICHD, he held the role of advisor with the Implementation Support Unit of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (2016-2019). He also managed humanitarian mine action programmes with Humanity and Inclusion (2014-2015) and the ICRC (2004-2013) mainly in Africa and in the Americas. Matthieu holds a MA in Executive Coaching and Leadership from the University of Barcelona, a MA in Peacekeeping and Security Studies from the University of Rome and a BA in translation and international relations from the University of Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium. He also has an Explosive Ordnance Disposal level 2 certification.