Multi-criteria decision analysis for site classification: Assessing natural hazard risks for planning the location of educational facilities

This technical note proposes a two-part geospatial methodology for assessing risks related to natural hazards and the interaction between these and other factors (including local norms and laws on education), in order to better plan the location of schools using multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) techniques. Part 1 describes a geospatial risk assessment methodology for educational facilities. This approach is flexible and allows planners and education ministries to select the prevailing natural hazards in their local context. The risk information is presented geospatially in terms of a numeric risk index using a risk assessment formula. 

Part 2 proposes the use of an MCDA technique to inform policy decisions in educational planning. In particular, a site suitability analysis is performed; this can be easily tailored to different needs and contexts. As the model is customizable, educational planners can attribute various levels of importance to criteria such as existing hazards, terrain, land cover, and connectivity when analysing potential areas for constructing new educational facilities or for the relocation of existing at-risk facilities. This analysis also produces suitability risk maps, which can be shared and used as a decision-making support and communication tool. This helps to ensure that new schools will be built in low-hazard-risk zones or built with the relevant specifications, also taking into consideration optimal connectivity to the road network and waterways to make educational facilities more resilient to disasters.

Resource Info

Resource Type

Technical Note


Published by

UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning (UNESCO-IIEP)
United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)


Risk Reduction and Resilience
Safe Schools and Learning Environments
School Administration and Monitoring