AKAH Pakistan’s disaster response programme is divided into two components: i) search and rescue operations immediately after disasters, and ii) humanitarian relief including provision of food and non-food aid, shelter and camp management for those affected by disaster internally or for refugees. AKAH is one of the leading and most experienced disaster response agencies in Pakistan.
Search and Rescue: AKAH Pakistan has a 40-member specialised search and rescue team (SART). Members are located in Gilgit, Chitral and Karachi and have been trained by the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue Team, IntOps AB Sweden and Pompiers de l'Urgence Internationale, a group of French fire fighters in urban and mountain search and rescue. The team has been provided equipment to conduct search and rescue across the country. SART members are trained on a monthly basis and are all dedicated volunteers, 35% of whom are women.
Humanitarian Relief: Following a disaster, AKAH Pakistan immediately deploys its volunteer Disaster Assessment and Response Teams (DARTs). The teams are trained based on the standards of UNOCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) to determine the immediate basic humanitarian needs after a disaster. Based on the DART reports, food, non-food aid and shelter is provided to those affected by the disaster, with support from and in collaboration with government authorities, donors, UN agencies and INGOs.
Significant Response Activities:
- Afghan Refugee Programme: The Afghan Refugee programme was initiated in 1998 and benefitted over 43,000 Afghan nationals over eight years. The refugees were hosted in various camps and later repatriated to Afghanistan in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
- Astor Earthquake, 2002: Astor was hit by an earthquake which resulted in the loss of many lives and destruction of property. In response, AKAH provided food and non-food aid to over 100 households (1,000 individuals) that were directly affected.
- Kashmir Earthquake, 2005: Following the devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake that shook Kashmir, AKAH immediately engaged its Search and Recue Teams from Gilgit and Chitral. Coordinating its relief efforts with the Pakistan Army and with the support of the AKDN helicopters, AKAH reached approximately 150,000 affected individuals who benefitted from food, safe drinking water, clothing, shelter, blankets, vital medicine as well as toys for the young. In addition, the Aga Khan University established a mobile hospital in Kashmir. The emergency response project phased out with the inception of an AKDN rehabilitation and recovery project in Chakama, Kashmir.
- Snow Avalanche Response District Ghizer, 2005: Ghizer District in Gilgit-Baltistan was impacted by heavy snowfall and a series of avalanches leaving much of the population stranded. AKAH in collaboration with World Food Programme (WFP) provided food to over 1,500 households, approximately 15,000 people.
- Snowfall and Avalanche Response Chitral, 2007: Chitral was hit by consecutive snow avalanches, to which AKAH responded immediately and provided food and non-food relief for over 6,000 people in 28 villages.
- Baluchistan Earthquake Response, 2008: Baluchistan was shaken by a massive earthquake in October. AKAH provided food and non-food items to over 2,000 households comprising of 14,000 individuals across three districts of Baluchistan.
- Attabad Landslide Response, 2010: AKAH emergency response teams were immediately mobilised to respond to the devastating landslide that struck the Attabad region of the Hunza Valley in Northern Pakistan. AKAH, in collaboration with the Aga Khan Council for Pakistan, agencies of the AKDN, local government and the Pakistan army, provided food and non-food aid to 28,000 people, assisted with evacuation efforts and managed camps for the internally displaced.
- Monsoon Flood Response, 2010: AKAH, working with AKDN agencies and other civil society organisations, launched a relief effort to assist the thousands of people displaced by the devastating floods in Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces in Pakistan. With assistance from thousands of trained volunteers and support from the community, AKAH and the AKDN supported the safe evacuation of vulnerable communities, construction of bridges and roads, as well as camp management. Food and non-food aid was provided to approximately 30,000 households (270,000 people) with support from the WFP in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. In addition, non-food aid was distributed to around 8,000 households in Sindh through the Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance.
- Earthquake Response in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, 2015: A massive earthquake struck Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan on 26 October 2015, which affected Pakistan including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, Punjab, Kashmir, and Baluchistan. This incident impacted 168 villages and damaged over 8,000 houses. AKAH responded to this disaster by mobilising its trained Community Emergency Response Teams to evacuate people and provide immediate humanitarian relief. Emergency Operation Centres were established for coordination between AKDN agencies and government departments. Approximately 2,300 households (20,700 people) were provided food and non-food relief. In addition, 3,300 families were provided food aid with support from the WFP.
- Flash Flood Response in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, 2015: Gilgit–Baltistan and Chitral were hit by devastating flash floods in July 2015. The floods impacted access to roads, destroyed infrastructure and completely damaged over 1,800 homes leaving approximately 15,000 people homeless. AKAH Pakistan deployed over 1,500 emergency response volunteers including CERTS, SARTs and DARTs. Rapid assessments of the disaster-affected area were conducted and shared with all stakeholders. About 3,300 households (29,700 individuals) were provided with food for three months. Over 1,000 households were provided with shelter kits. Two AKDN helicopters were deployed for emergency relief operations and the evacuation of people requiring medical attention and assisting the stranded.
- Avalanche, Floods and Landslides, 2016: Heavy rain and snowfall that continued for 48 hours brought life to a standstill in parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. It triggered a series of snow avalanches, unusual flash floods and landslides damaging 600 houses with thousands of other homes reporting leaks in the roof. AKAH Pakistan immediately responded to the crisis and deployed its DART to conduct rapid assessments working with local communities. Over 100 affected households were provided tents and blankets from community stockpiles set up by AKAH Pakistan for emergencies. Water purification sachets were provided to over 50 households in Oshikhandas and Sherqilla.