Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Afghanistan is currently implementing a Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). The CBDRR project seeks to increase awareness and disaster-resilience in highly vulnerable communities by strengthening local capacity to anticipate, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters.
As part of the CBDRR project, and in collaboration with FOCUS units in Tajikistan and Pakistan, FOCUS Afghanistan organises Community Emergency Response workshops. Recently in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, FOCUS taught local people how to effectively form and mobilise community emergency response teams, basic first aid techniques and basic search and rescue practices.
These workshops are vital in the Badakhshan provinces of Afghanistan and Tajikistan as over 80 percent of the population are situated in geographically remote areas amongst arid and mountainous terrain. Since these communities are often located far from the emergency services and government facilities available in district centres, they are particularly susceptible to the adverse impacts of natural hazards. In fact, these particular regions are prone to frequent natural hazards such as floods, droughts, avalanches, mudflows and earthquakes.
FOCUS Afghanistan establishes and trains community emergency response teams in highly vulnerable villages. These teams are capable of providing basic first aid, basic search and rescue operations as well as implementing preventative measures that can mitigate the negative impacts of a natural disaster until external help arrives, often after 2-3 days due to remote access to the villages. This approach is expected to strengthen the capacity of local communities to manage disasters and related risk independently, by fostering a cadre of trained community members capable of assisting and evacuating vulnerable populations in the wake of a natural disaster.
By sharing best practices and building mutual understanding in disaster risk reduction across the Afghan-Tajik border, the workshops serve as vehicles to strengthen the cross-border risk management mechanism, disaster preparedness and emergency response capacities.