Focus Humanitarian Assistance runs programmes in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, Tajikistan, to raise awareness of potential natural disasters and improve community preparedness in the event of such disasters. The region is in a high-risk earthquake zone and is threatened by both the earthquakes themselves and their consequences, particularly landslides. Part of the project involves installing two-way radio systems in private houses and training villagers how to use them for emergencies.
Photo: AKF / Jean-Luc RayWhen the devastating earthquake of 8 October 2005 hit Kashmir, AKDN agencies responded immediately. AKDN affiliate Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) deployed search-and-rescue teams in Islamabad on 8 October and on 10 October to the worst-affected areas in Kashmir. His Highness the Aga Khan pledged US$ 50 million for relief and reconstruction efforts. Aga Khan University worked with Aga Khan Health Services to send 80 doctors and specialists, 40 nurses and teams of medical technicians, field officers, medical and nursing students, as well as over 1,000 volunteers.
AKDN’s effective, integrated response was the product of years of preparation and training. All across the Network, AKDN agencies are not only training to respond to disasters, but helping communities be more resilient when disasters do occur.
"The most enduring work done by many of the AKU response teams, notably in the realm of public health, has been to create model health programmes and health surveillance systems on the ground and train the people to run them... Our hope is that the disaster will eventually leave, at least in some respects, stronger communities."
His Highness the Aga Khan at the Convocation of the Aga Khan University, 3 December 2005.Focus Humanitarian Assistance’s Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness project, for example, is based on a strategy of community preparedness and local capacity building that provides men and women with the basic technical knowledge required to respond, survive and recover from disasters. Risk management projects near Tajikistan’s Lake Sarez (a lake formed by a landslide that threatens downstream communities) have moved schools to higher ground, built flood barriers, installed two-way radio communication systems and conducted hundreds of training exercises.
In the Northern Areas of Pakistan, in a population of nearly 700,000, FOCUS has trained over 25,000 community volunteers to utilise local resources to respond and manage local disaster situations. Volunteers undergo organisational, basic first aid as well as vigorous mountain search and rescue training. At the community level, the volunteers are divided into planning and response groups ready to be deployed at short notice. FOCUS also provides stockpiles at the community and regional level to support a community’s timely and effective response.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance
FOCUS Brochure (2009)
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