This paper calls for greater attention to the role of youth and children as development actors in the context of education for disaster management. Drawing on debates in disaster studies and children’s geographies, we explore the possibilities offered by everyday formal education spaces, often overlooked in disasters management practice, to engage children in disaster preparedness and resilience planning. Using the case study of Peru, we examine the extent to which national responses to the restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic placed on in-person teaching, opened-up opportunities to engage with disaster management in new ways. We draw on the case of an innovative digital curricula that uses intergenerational storytelling about the El Niño phenomenon to investigate livelihood opportunities and climate change pressures in northern coastal Peru, exploring how the phenomenon benefits desert populations. We assess the role of participatory virtual learning in facilitating disaster knowledge and climate adaptation awareness among students and critically examine the youth subjectivities that are constructed through these processes. We conclude calling for greater engagement with children’s formal education spaces in climate adaptation strategies, while cautioning against conceptualising children and young people as only ‘adults in the making’, rather than as impacted individuals with current agency and everyday capacities.


Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Cite as

Bell, I., Laurie, N., Calle, O., Carmen, M. & Valdez, A. 2023, 'Education for disaster resilience: lessons from El Niño', Geoforum, 148, article no: 103919. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2023.103919

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Last updated: 11 January 2024
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