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Iranian communities rebuild and recover after earthquakes

By Zahra Sethna
Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

LORESTAN, Iran, 17 May 2006 -- More than six weeks after a series of strong earthquakes shook Lorestan province in western Iran, life appears to be returning to normal. Schools and shops are open for business in the cities, and reconstruction efforts are evident in the villages of the affected area.

Local officials learned from the devastating experience over two years ago in Bam, Iran, which left thousands dead and caused massive destruction.

The Lorestan authorities warned people to leave their homes and seek shelter outdoors after early tremors struck. As a result, the earthquakes -- which measured between 4.7 and 5.7 on the Richter scale -- claimed only 70 deaths, a relatively moderate toll.

The Schools Renovation Organization in Lorestan has started clearing away rubble from damaged and destroyed schools, and preparing for new ones to be built. Some new schools may be ready by the autumn of 2006, the start of the new academic year. In the meantime, classes in the three affected districts have recommenced in tents and structures that survived the quakes.

Clean water, toys and counselling

In the village of Pahlavan Kal, Reza Yarahmadi, 9, and his sister Zahra, 7, play in front of the tents and prefabricated 'connexes' that now house their school. Their former school, which served 74 primary students, was destroyed.

Despite widespread damage, students at the school missed just two days of classes due to the quick response of government and aid organizations. Reza points out some water standpipes that have been installed a few metres from the school tents to provide safe water for the village from tanks provided by UNICEF.

Toys, games and sports equipment are also being distributed to primary schools. "The recreation kits are very important," said the Planning and Logistics Deputy in the Doroud Department of Education, Mohammad Reza Nosrati. "They help students learn to work together and fill their free time."

In addition, about 500 teachers have been instructed in psychosocial counselling by trainers who participated in a UNICEF-supported emergency preparedness workshop. The counseling has had a broadly positive effect, according to teachers and education officials who work with earthquake-affected children in Lorestan.

... Payvand News - 5/19/06 ... --

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