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Refresher Training of CERT by FOCUS

Monday, October 29, 2007

Focus News update

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FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance




FOCUS News Update
August-September 2007



Reducing disaster risk in Afghan Badakhshan

Through a grant awarded by the European Commission Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO) and with the assistance of the Aga Khan Foundation UK, in September 2007 FOCUS began Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) programmes in the province of Badakhshan, north-eastern Afghanistan.


Afghan Badakhshan

With a population of over 820,000 Badakhshan is considered one of the most highly exposed provinces to natural hazards in Afghanistan. Every year dozens of disasters ranging from severe flooding to small-scale earthquakes and avalanches occur in the province resulting in loss of lives, economic losses and destruction of homes and property. This, combined with the remoteness of the province, has increased the vulnerability of communities living and reduced capacity to cope, resist, and recover from the impact of natural disasters. Over the last two years alone, 35 small scale disasters were reported in the province resulting in high casualties and damage to the local economy.

The CBDRM programme will enable FOCUS to establish a grounded disaster risk management programme in partnership with local communities. Initially accessing four districts, the programme's key objectives are to raise awareness of disaster risk, facilitate training of volunteer teams to respond to disasters, undertake assessments, provide an advocacy forum as well as build partnerships and disaster risk management capacity within government institutions.


Transporting food to communities in the border districts of Afghan Badakhshan

Collaborating with UN-WFP to ensure food reaches local communities
As autumn began, FOCUS and the UN World Food Programme partnered to ensure close to 1,000 MT of food was able to reach isolated communities living in districts of north-eastern Afghanistan. Accessing the mountainous communities is challenging at the best of times, however FOCUS' expertise, local voluntary capacity and knowledge of the local terrain has ensured that vital supplies are channeled through Kulyab in Tajikistan and transported to Darwaz in the Afghanistan province of Badakhshan. The route is made complex as the only accessible road to Darwaz is across the Tajik-Afghan border and back again at a different crossing.



Europe search and rescue team training in Wiltshire, UK

Europe search and rescue team training in Wiltshire, UK

Volunteers continue search and rescue training with RAPID UK
Intensive training with RAPID UK continued into the autumn for Europe's search and rescue team at the Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service Training & Development Centre in Devizes, Wiltshire, UK.  The team of nine are being trained over eighteen months by RAPID UK in core search and rescue skills including survival techniques, navigation, mapping and reconnaissance exercises, as well as team communications. During each 48-hour training weekend, the team set up a base camp and sleep outdoors; they are given basic food rations so as to closely emulate conditions volunteers would endure in a real disaster situation. RAPID UK trainer Dan Cooke said, "It is an honour and a privilege to be involved in such a global community and humanitarian organisation. The high performance level achieved by the volunteers is only possible due to the continuing support of Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service".


Equipping children in India to handle disaster situations


Equipping children in India to handle disaster situations

Equipping children living in hostels with the skills to handle disaster situations
As part of disaster risk reduction in the community, FOCUS has identified the need to sensitise children to the occurrence of disasters. Children living in age-old schools and hostels are especially vulnerable to such situations and therefore require early training and education. To this end, FOCUS, in collaboration with Aga Khan Education Services' hostel management team has created a 2-phase disaster preparedness programme for implementation in 10 hostels in Gujarat. The first phase raises awareness of possible disaster situations and provides learning on precautionary measures and minimising impact among children, staff and management.  The second phase includes forming a FOCUS Initial Response and Safety Team (FIRST) among the older children in the hostel. They are taught basic skills especially for young people including first aid, fire safety and basic search and rescue. September 2007 saw the completion of phase one in 6 hostels and the establishment of phase two FIRST in 3 hostels.


FOCUS Community Response Teams active in Chitral and Northern Areas
FOCUS-trained Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in Pakistan are the backbone of many unreported small-scale responses to emergencies in the region. From evacuating people affected by avalanches to rescuing families from blazing homes, these teams are constantly active, helping to make their own communities increasingly resilient and self-prepared.


FOCUS in Pakistan

Skilled community-based emergency response teams in northern Pakistan make their way through the valleys to assist people in need.

During the summer, Bathraith village in Ghizer district of Pakistan's Northern Areas was hit by a mass of debris flow' flooding affected more than a dozen homes and crop fields and injured several people. The local CERT evacuated the injured and homeless to safer areas and utilised local community stockpiles to distribute tents and blankets.

The beginning of autumn brought heavy rainfall and mudflow, affecting the region of Gindai, Mashar. The area CERT identified vulnerable homes and evacuated families to a safer area before their homes were damaged. CERT members also carried out an area assessment for any further losses.

Mr Ghulam Panjwani speaking at the FOCUS Orientation Session on better disaster preparedness at the Gilgit Serena Hotel


Mr Ghulam Panjwani speaking at the FOCUS Orientation Session on better disaster preparedness at the Gilgit Serena Hotel

Synergising efforts towards better disaster preparedness in the Northern Areas
FOCUS held an orientation session for the Government of the Northern Areas at Gilgit Serena Hotel, in August 2007. The session was attended by the Chief Secretary of the Northern Areas, the Speaker of the Northern Areas Legislative Council as well as government officials and department heads. Representatives of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies in Pakistan as well as local media also attended the event. Following several FOCUS programme presentations and a question and answer forum, a demonstration of a community emergency response team in action was held at Nulter Nalla. Concluding the session, the Chief Secretary requested FOCUS to lead a regional disaster management task force to combine efforts of the government, AKDN agencies and FOCUS along with other key stakeholders to ensure an effective disaster management strategy in the Northern Areas.

Representing Pakistan at Emergency Disaster Management Seminar, India

Mr. Ghulam Panjwani, Executive Officer of FOCUS Pakistan and the Chief Secretary of the province of Balochistan represented Pakistan at a seminar on Emergency and Disaster Management jointly sponsored by the National Institute of Disaster Management India and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The seminar, attended by government representatives of the South Asian Association for Regional Corporation (SAARC), provided a forum for sharing best practices in emergency disaster management and risk reduction strategies across the SAARC region.

Students from Lahore University complete Internship

Three students from Lahore University of Management Sciences interned at FOCUS' Islamabad office. The students were assigned one-month projects in the Monitoring, Evaluation & Research, Hazard Vulnerability, Capacity & Risk Assessment and the Library and Resource Units. All three students valued the opportunity of witnessing first-hand the scale of disaster preparedness activities by FOCUS across their country.


Building civic capacity in disaster risk reduction through training and workshops in Tajikistan


Building civic capacity in disaster risk reduction through training and workshops in Tajikistan

Enhancing working partnerships with the Government of Tajikistan
Several collaborative initiatives under FOCUS' disaster risk reduction programme in Tajikistan have commenced with the Tajik government. These include:

  • A trainer training workshop held by FOCUS and the Tajik Ministry of Education at the Institute of Professional Development in Dushanbe:
    The workshops aimed to prepare Trainers to conduct basic disaster awareness training in schools across Tajikistan and to ensure the continued inclusion of earthquake safety initiatives in school curricula. This training initiative, funded primarily by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), seeks to build on the region's Central Asia Region Earthquake Safety Initiative (CARESI) projects by improving the ability of schoolchildren to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
  • Training the Government's Committee of Emergency Situations (CoES) at the CoES Training Centre:
    FOCUS will be tutoring CoES staff to train government administrators and will provide educational materials including books, presentations and CDs.
  • Providing capacity building opportunities to the Tajik Governments' Geology Department:
    Under FOCUS' European Commission Disaster Preparedness 2007 – 2008 award, the geology department of the Tajik government (Tajik Geology) and FOCUS will provide mutual capacity building opportunities. FOCUS will share skills and knowledge related to geographic information systems and other tools to support the government's disaster risk reduction activities and Tajik Geology will provide support to FOCUS in physical geological assessments and other services across Tajikistan. As part of this strategic partnership, specialists from the two organisations collaborated in a joint 10-day area vulnerability assessment of Khorog City.

OSCE Ambassadors visit FOCUS projects as part of tour of AKDN activities in Tajikistan
As part of a visit hosted by the AKDN in Tajikistan, ambassadors representing seven countries of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) visited FOCUS' Tishor water channel rehabilitation project and received orientation on operational activities with FOCUS Afghanistan. The visit showcased various AKDN activities in Badakhshan. The group also discussed future activities including continuing to implement community-based disaster risk reduction activities in villages not yet reached, disaster response capacity building as well as building remote hazard assessment and intervention activities in light of climate change and global warming. The seven OSCE represented countries included Lithuania, Italy, Slovakia, France, Sweden, Belgium and Tajikistan.



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