Given the active seismic zone in which it works, in 2009 the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP) began initiatives to mainstream disaster risk reduction throughout its programme. The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) also works in the country to reduce disaster risks and improve emergency response.
Kyrgyzstan’s geography places its inhabitants in a high-risk category for natural disasters. 94 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s territory is located 1,000 metres above sea level, and 40 percent is above 3,000 metres. Earthquakes, avalanches, landslides, floods and mudflows are common hazards; dozens of people lose their land and livelihoods to these types of disasters every year. Further, it is anticipated that rising temperatures, rapid snowmelt, and changing rain patterns will increase the intensity and frequency of such disasters, with serious economic and social impacts. Recognizing this pressing risk, AKF works with communities, civil society organizations, and local institutions to strengthen community-based disaster resilience and management skills. AKF adopts a three-pronged approach to institute resilience at all levels, among all generations:
AKF works in schools in three high-risk, mountainous districts to foster community capacity to manage natural disasters. It works with both students and teachers to promote evidence-based knowledge of potential natural disasters and techniques to mitigate and manage such events should they occur. Specifically, AKF works with the Kyrgyz Academy of Education to integrate guidelines on disaster risk management for school administrators into curriculum for pre- and in-service teacher training institutions so that current and future teachers and school administrators will be better prepared to educate and manage natural hazards. To ensure constituent accountability on the parts of school administrations, AKF recently began working with school boards of trustees and parent committees in 71 schools in Alai, Chon-Alai, and Naryn districts. The project aims to hold school administrations accountable to their legal obligation of providing a safe school environment for students.
Engagement with civil society actors
Civil society actors can play a critical role in increasing community capacity to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. Toward that end, AKF works in cooperation with the Ministry of Emergency Situations to train 310 members of 31 district and sub-district Commissions of Civil Protection (CCPs) on Sphere standards. CCPs are volunteer based organizations tasked with community emergency response management. Sphere standards aim to improve the quality of assistance provided to people affected by disasters, and enhance the accountability of the humanitarian system in disaster response.
AKF identifies local institutions with a disaster risk management (DRM) mandate, and develops strategies to strengthen these institutions’ internal DRM capacity as well as promote DRM practices among their communities.
In collaboration with district departments of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, MSDSP is working with a selection of local Fire Departments to mainstream information on disaster risk resiliency in their community outreach endeavors. AKF also works with the State Automobile Agency to ensure that first aid training is integrated into curricula for drivers. According to the laws of the Kyrgyz Republic, drivers should be equipped with basic first aid training when they receive their driving license.
Emergency Management teams trained by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) aim to build resilience against disaster events and build the capacity of community members in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM). The project also conducts hazard and risk and works to improve risk anticipation through the establishment of an Early Warning System (EWS). AKAH has so far trained tens of thousands of volunteers for disaster response and management across Central and South Asia, and many more in the other countries in which it works.