When the devastating earthquake of 8 October 2005 hit Kashmir, AKDN agencies responded immediately. AKDN 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 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, over 25,000 community volunteers were trained 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. AKDN also provides stockpiles at the community and regional level to support a community’s timely and effective response.