Even before Alexander the Great passed through the region over 2,000 years ago, the inhabitants of Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan province faced the constant threat of disasters, including floods, landslides, earthquakes and severe winter weather. The ability of the population to successfully face disasters was further tested during the civil conflict, and the subsequent social and economic upheaval, which followed independence in 1991. Yet the relative isolation of the mountainous communities has also meant that local populations developed their own methods of disaster resilience in order to survive and prosper.
Working with the people of Gorno-Badakhshan and the Government of Tajikistan, Focus Humanitarian Assistance has developed a guide that expands on indigenous knowledge and more recent practices to create a comprehensive guide to planning for, responding to and recovering from disasters. FOCUS has been working in Gorno-Badakhshan for more than ten years. Early efforts dealt primarily with humanitarian relief. Since 2001, FOCUS has been shifting its efforts toward assisting communities to improve their disaster resilience. These efforts have been supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department through DIPECHO (disaster preparedness) projects, and with support from the Governments of Tajikistan, USA, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Norway and France and by the World Bank and the United Nations.