Community Based Disaster Risk Management
Informed and organised communities are better prepared to confront hazards and show a greater resiliency and capacity for immediate response and cope with disasters. Community Based Disaster Risk Management aims to build upon local knowledge with technical skills that enable and empower communities to cope with, prepare for, prevent, mitigate, respond to, and quickly recover from natural and man-made disasters in urban and rural areas. It involves the participation of community members to identify and understand local hazards, as well as build their basic disaster management skills in first aid, search and rescue, fire safety, safe haven location and Village Based Disaster Risk Management Planning. Community volunteers trained by FOCUS are aware of their local hazards and are able to be first responders in disaster situations. The role of these Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) is critical, particularly in communities located in risk-prone mountainous and isolated locations. Over the years, FOCUS has established 162 structured CERTs across Pakistan and has trained over 36,000 community volunteers (over 50% women) as first responders. Emergency stockpiles with items such as tents, blankets, search tools and first aid are also provided at the community level to strengthen local response capacities. FOCUS has also supported the Government of Pakistan in preparing the country’s National Disaster Management Plan and Community Based Disaster Risk Management guidelines (2012).
School Safety Programme
FOCUS Pakistan’s School Safety Programme (SSP) aims to actively engage students and school management in raising awareness, developing emergency and evacuation plans, assess school hazards, and develop response capacity at the school level, by training students, teachers and parents. The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) through FOCUS Pakistan initiated Pakistan’s first school safety programme in 2006. In an effort to further enhance and strengthen school safety in Pakistan, FOCUS organised an International Conference on School Safety in May 2008. FOCUS in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan and various donor and UN agencies, in addition to international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), provided technical and financial input to develop a School Safety Strategy for the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan. The conference also marked the declaration of May 16 as the annual National School Safety Day. FOCUS continues to run school safety initiatives across the country in partnership with respective governments, UN agencies and INGOs. FOCUS Pakistan, together with its donors and partners, has reached over 600 schools across Pakistan through its school safety programme benefitting over 60,000 students, teachers and parents. Initiatives include i) a pilot project where a school safety manual was developed with support from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and National Disaster Management Authority Pakistan, ii) a school safety programme with PLAN International implemented at 400 primary girls schools in Pakistan, and iii) a project to improve DRR practices in over 100 schools in Gilgit-Baltistan with support from the Australian Agency for International Development. Moreover, with technical assistance from the National Society for Earthquake Technology Nepal and Aga Khan Education Services Pakistan, local villagers were trained in stone masonry to retrofit a school in Nomal village, Gilgit.
Hazard Vulnerability Risk Assessments
Hazard Vulnerability and Risk Assessments (HVRAs) are systematic approaches to identifying hazards or risks that have an impact on disaster prone communities. This involves teams of geologists and geographic information system specialists to conduct hazard and risk assessments at the village level. The process also involves local communities to identify and analyse risks through historical data collection and participatory hazard mapping. The data gathered through geologists and communities are further analysed and hazard and risk maps are prepared. These maps are effective tools for disaster risk reduction and are also instrumental for ensuring that risk and hazards are avoided while implementing development interventions at the village level. FOCUS Pakistan has produced hazard and risk maps for 658 villages with over 600,000 habitants in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC) and also 112 maps for urban settlements.