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Natural disasters: earthquakes

Every year the Red Cross helps people from around the world who have been affected by natural disasters. This resource provides a unique perspective on how individuals and communities prepare for, respond to and recover from these life-changing events.

With content that is designed and differentiated for 11-19 year olds, geography teachers can bring the curriculum to life with case studies, maps and eyewitness accounts from the Nepal earthquakes of 2015.

Learning objectives

Learners will:

  • gain understanding of the different types of natural hazards and disasters
  • explore the short- and long-term consequences of a natural disaster, using the example of the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal
  • discuss the humanitarian response and what might make communities resilient

Supported by the Geographical Association:

“We urge all geography teachers to download this free resource and encourage young people to think about the humanitarian impact of natural disasters. This invaluable resource pack has been created with the technical input from the British Red Cross combined with the expertise of GA teacher consultants.”

Rebecca Kitchen, Secondary Curriculum Leader at the Geographical Association

Introduction and curriculum links

Learn about how the resource has been designed to support your teaching and how the content maps to the geography curriculum for KS3, GCSE and A Level.

Session 1: Natural disasters

Session 1 is an introduction to the Natural disasters: earthquakes resource. It sets the scene by introducing the topic of natural disasters alongside general ideas of risk and hazard.

  • What do we mean by natural hazards and disasters and how can they be classified?
  • Which natural hazards are the most common?
  • What impacts will different natural disasters have on individuals and communities?

Session 2: Earthquakes

After a general introduction to natural hazards and disasters, this session moves on to look more specifically at earthquakes, with a focus on tectonic hazards.

  • Where do earthquakes happen, and why?
  • What were the causes of the Nepal earthquake?
  • How can people who live in areas prone to natural hazards prepare themselves for future events?
  • Could the Nepal earthquake have been predicted?

Session 3: The impact of a natural disaster

Session 3 focuses on the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster like an earthquake and the work of local and international Red Cross teams to support people affected.

  • What was the immediate impact of the Nepal earthquake?
  • What was the immediate humanitarian response to the earthquake?
  • How were local and international communities involved in this response?

Session 4: Recovery and resilience

After a natural disaster the Red Cross supports the people affected as they start to recover and rebuild their lives.

  • What are the longer term impacts of a natural disaster and how do people recover?
  • How resilient were individuals and communities in Nepal to the earthquake?
  • How can communities increase their resilience – what about the school community? What might make a community more or less resilient?
  • What lessons can be learned from each event so citizens are better prepared for them in future?

About the author

Alan Parkinson is head of geography at King’s Ely Junior - a centre of excellence for geography for global learning.

With over 20 years teaching geography to ‘A’ level and winning awards for innovation and excellence, Alan previously worked for the Geographical Association as secondary curriculum development leader.

A freelance author and geographer, Alan has authored publications for BBC, Collins, Digital Explorer, and many more.