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Teachers: Citizenship: Globalisation Environmental

Last Updated: Thursday January 06 2005 14:18 GMT

Asian Tsunami

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Global Environment

G-Nation logo
This lesson was written by the education team at G-Nation. Click on the website link on the right hand side for loads of great citizenship teaching resources about charity.


An earthquake on Boxing day, December 26, sent huge waves crashing into 11 Asian countries, wiping out entire communities. It's estimated that 5 million people have been made homeless by the disaster.

British people have so far donated 76m to the fund to help the survivors.

Students learn how the tsunami started, how people have been affected and what they can do to help.

Learning aims
  • Help pupils appreciate the nature of the current tragedy
  • Address pupils' concerns and worries
  • Learn how to help the aid effort
  • Look at other issues of global concern
Summary of activities

1. What has happened. What do we know about it?
2. How has it affected us? Compare students feelings and reactions to those of others
3. Discussion about natural disasters and the global community
4. What are the government and charities doing?
5. What can students do to help?
6. How can we prevent more disasters?

1. Asian tsunami. What happened?

The water pulls back to the sea exposing 300 metres of beach which had been covered by the ocean. (Photo: DigitalGlobe)

Gather the knowledge of the class together to help establish the situation.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Can anyone describe what happened?
  • Can anyone describe the impact of the tsunami?
  • Who is the most affected?
  • What's the response been?
  • What are the immediate problems?
  • What are the long-term problems?
Background information:
  • The word tsunami comes from the Japanese meaning "horror wave."
  • It was caused by an earthquake of 9 on the Richter scale.
  • It happened at 6.58 local time on Boxing Day.
2. How has it affected us?

Invite pupils to spend 10 minutes looking at how the disaster has impacted them.


Give students a copy of the worksheet They said it, which contains some thoughts about the tsunami written by children logging onto the Newsround website.

Ask students: Which of these statements do you relate to?:

I am shocked that such a thing has happened. We should be grateful for not being in that kind of situation. I hope that the world will reunite and stop fighting because of it.
Afsana, 12, Bolton

It's terrible. Although I am not upset by it because it does not affect me, it must be terrible for the families of those who are missing.
Maisy, 14, Southampton

I am going to donate all my Christmas money.
Francine, 10, Newcastle

I feel deeply saddened by what has happened but I am also angry that places north of the epicentre weren't warned of the tsunamis. The waves struck 4 hours after the original earthquake and many people could have been saved.
Naomi, 15, Cheltenham

The earthquake has got to me, and all those families who have lost their lives and property. The holiday trade and it's economy is ruined, how terrible it must be for the people living there.
Alex, 10, Barnsley

It is just so horrible. This story really hit home for me, because I visited some of the countries that were hit. One video clip I saw was at a hotel that I stayed at! It's just so scary and sad. I'm praying for the victims who lost loved ones, and everyone affected by this horrible incident.
Tina, 16, USA

I think that as Band Aid 20 has had such a massive income, they should give half of the proceeds to help survivors and victims of this terrible event.
Adam, 12, Newbury

It's like the stuff you see in films, not something you really think could happen in your lifetime. But this terrible event proves that this stuff is happening now and we can't predict what nature can do. I feel for everyone who has been affected by this. My heart goes out to them.
Annie, 15, Sheffield

Ask students:

  • Are there any statements here that everyone in your class agrees with?
  • After reading these comments, what are you thinking? What are the big questions to ask?
3. Discussion about natural disasters and the global community

Although they may not be aware of it, students have lived through other earthquake related disasters of lesser magnitude.

In the last 10 years there have been lots of big earthquakes.


The recent disaster is the fifth biggest natural disaster on record.

Give students a copy of the information on earthquakes within the last 10 years and read it to the class.

Ask students:

  • How many of these earthquakes do you you remember?
  • What does it make you think?

Many parts of the world, particularly the middle and far east, are most vulnerable to calamities caused by the earth's tectonic plates shifting. By comparison we live in great security.

Ask students:

  • Should people in 'safer' parts of the world help others whose home is in an area of the globe that is unstable or vulnerable?
  • If some of the places affected had not been tourist resorts (and some of the people British) would we have been so concerned? Is that okay?
  • How has the outpouring of support made us feel?
4. What are the government and charities doing?

The UK have so far raised 76 million for the Tsunami Appeal
The original Band Aid raised 65 million worldwide
Live Aid raised 8 million
Comic Relief 2003 raised 40 Million
Children in Need 2004 raised 17 Million
Band Aid 20 has raised 3 million
The main fundraising appeal is being handled by the Disasters Emergency Committee. DEC is an umbrella organisation that unites Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Concern, Help the Aged, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

The UK have so far raised 76 million for the Tsunami Appeal.

Here are some examples of what donated money can do:

  • 15 will buy a hot meal for 125 people in emergency feeding centres
  • 25 will provide basic shelter, food parcels and household items for two families for two weeks
  • 50 will supply tarpaulins to provide basic shelter for ten families
  • 100 will pay for emergency food parcels to feed 60 families for one month
  • 250 will provide essential emergency shelter and food for 20 families or 100 people
When a natural disaster happens, governments help other governments. This aid doesn't usually get handed over as cash, but rather it pays for activities run by non-governmental organisations such as UNICEF or the Red Cross, by paying for help such as soldiers or planes to assist relief operations.

The government spends around 3,900 million each year on combating international poverty and reducing conflict. It does this by through the Department for International Development (DfID).

Ask students to look at these statements and say whether they agree or disagree and why?:

  • "This event is the problem of those that live in those countries. Governments can't spend all their time bailing each other out otherwise we'd have no standard of living for ourselves. The government already gives 28 per cent tax relief on charitable donations - that's enough."
  • "The government should do loads more to help here - it's a life and death situation."
  • "The 16 million unclaimed lottery money should be sent to help out - we obviously don't need it"
5. What can students do to help?

Students may want to make a fundraising plan. They can visit the Giving Nation website (see the link on the right hand side). It is designed to give young people the tools they need to help raise money for causes they care about.

6. How can we prevention more disasters?

How do people protect themselves against tidal waves and earthquakes such as the one we're discussing?

There is an international warning system, started in 1965, designed to alert nations that potentially destructive waves may hit their coastlines within three to 14 hours.

It was started the year after tsunamis associated with a magnitude 9.2 temblor struck Alaska in 1964.

Lots of countries give money an organisation called the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which maintains the international warning system. The countries who give money are called member states.

However, India and Sri Lanka are not members.

In Japan, a network of fiber-optic sensors records any seismic activity and passes that information to a powerful computer at the Meteorological Agency, which estimates the height, speed, destination and arrival time of any tsunamis. Within two minutes of the quake, the agency can sound the alarm.

Leaders from some of the world's well-off countries (G8 leaders) have pledged to set up an early warning system for tsunamis.

Ask students: Who do you think should pay for it?

Students could base their ideas on these estimates:

  • It is estimated that more than 1,000 million (a billion) will be donated to victims of this tsunami.
  • A new tsunami early warning system might cost around 500 million.
  • It might cut likely deaths by 75 per cent.
  • It would help restore the tourist trade to those places affected.
Teachers' background

For an interactive Powerpoint version of this lesson plan, go to the G-Nation link on the right hand side.

For more information on the following organisations, click on the website links on the right hand side.


Giving Nation is a Citizenship Foundation project that supports secondary schools undertaking work to support charity and community. It is a school's programme and website offering information on everything to do with charity. It aims to engage young people in charity by raising awareness and offering opportunities to give energy, time, voice and money to charity. G-Nation offers schools a free pack that enables both lessons and whole school activities to meet curriculum targets whilst developing the school's activities around giving to others. You can order the pack from the Giving nation website.

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission for England and Wales is established by law as the regulator and registrar of charities in England and Wales. Its aim is to provide the best possible regulation of these charities in order to increase charities' efficiency and effectiveness and public confidence and trust in them. Most charities in England and Wales have to register with the Charity Commission.

Make Poverty History

Make Poverty History is an organisation that brings together a wide cross section of nearly 100 charities, campaigns, trade unions, faith groups and celebrities who are committed to global change. They include organisations like Oxfam, Save the Children, Comic Relief, The Fairtrade Foundation, the TUC and the Mothers Union. Make Poverty History brings together thee kinds of response to poverty:

  • More and better aid for poor countries.
  • Cancellation of debt resulting in the borrowing of poor countries from richer ones or world financial institutions.
  • Trade justice across international boundaries stopping poor countries having to trade by rules set by the rich ones.

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