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  • Natural disasters take a heavy toll on poor communities. In addition to the loss of life, an annual depletion of assets can perpetuate poverty. AKDN reinforces the resiliency of communities in hazard-prone regions by installing early warning systems, moving homes and schools to higher ground, stockpiling essential goods and training local emergency response teams, like this team, which was trained by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, during a training exercise near Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
  • School Emergency Response Teams (SERTs) participate in a search and rescue simulation as part of their capacity building training. Over 50% of SERTs are women, Afghanistan.
  • In Tajikistan, FOCUS geologists identify and map local natural hazards.
  • School rehabilitated by Focus and built using a special seismic structure in Sadnay, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, Tajikistan.
    AKDN / Jean-Luc Ray
  • In high altitude areas of Pakistan, AKAH holds simulation exercises with specialist partner organisations to ensure its search and rescue team have updated skills and are ready for deployment at any time.
Disaster preparedness

A significant area of the work of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) concentrates on community-based disaster risk reduction (DRR) initiatives and emergency management when disasters do occur. Efforts to increase awareness of disaster risks in communities living in both urban and rural areas aim to strengthen the local capabilities of populations to be better prepared and more resilient against the natural hazards prevalent in their respective regions.

AKAH's methodology on Disaster Risk Management, Preparedness and Response programmes:

Working with local governments and communities, AKAH implements a wide range of disaster risk reduction (DRR) programmes, particularly in South and Central Asia. DRR programmes include disaster preparedness education, specialist training and awareness initiatives, hazard assessments and small-scale mitigation projects for all levels of community and institutional structures, such as building flood retaining walls, reinforcing foot and vehicle bridges and creating irrigation channels.

In partnership with local communities, AKAH has also relocated vulnerable buildings in regions of seismic risk - such as schools and health facilities - as well as built evacuation paths, safe havens and created stockpiles of vital supplies for use by local communities.

By investing in the training of local community based professionals and volunteers, AKAH is able to increase local capacity, particularly in high mountain remote areas. Through its DRR programmes, AKAH facilitates vulnerable communities in responding to emergencies immediately and without relying solely on humanitarian aid. This enables trained volunteers to be the first responders in the event of a disaster and, importantly, capitalises on their local knowledge of the terrain, language and culture.

Emergency Management teams train to respond to disasters while conducting hazard and risk assessments.  They also work to improve risk anticipation through the establishment of Early Warning Systems (EWS).  AKAH has so far trained more than 36,000 volunteers for disaster response and management across Pakistan, and many more in the other countries in which it works.  For its work in Pakistan, it received the Sitara-i-Eisaar award, conferred by the government of Pakistan in recognition of its humanitarian assistance during the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake.


In high mountain areas of Badakhshan,Tajikistan, FOCUS works with local communities to build irrigation channels, pathways, and other structural mitigation projects to protect communities from the effects of avalanches, flooding, mud slides and rock falls.