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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.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Right to Emergency Care !

IMPORTANT: Supreme Court Judgment (India)

Right to Emergency Care :

Date of Judgment: 23/02/2007.

Case No.: Appeal (civil) 919 of 2007.

The Supreme Court has ruled that all injured persons especially in the case of road traffic accidents, assaults, etc., when brought to a hospital / medical centre , have to be offered first aid, stabilized and shifted to a higher centre / government centre if required. It is only after this that the hospital can demand payment or complete police formalities. In case you are a bystander and wish to help someone in an accident, please go ahead and do so. Your responsibility ends as soon as you leave the person at the hospital. The hospital bears the responsibility of informing the police, first aid, etc.

Please do inform your family and friends about these basic rights so that we all know what to expect and what to do in the hour of need. Please not only go ahead and forward this message but implement it in real life too!!!!

For more info and comments log on to  DISASTER AWARENESS 

Monday, October 15, 2007

State vulnerable to natural calamities

clipped from www.hindu.com

State vulnerable to natural calamities

Staff Reporter

According to studies, State is becoming increasingly prone to earthquakes, landslips and cyclones

Photo: S. Mahinsha

Awareness campaign: Education Minister M.A. Baby inaugurating an awareness campaign on ‘disaster management for schoolchildren through Edusat’ organised by the Institute of Land and Disaster Management in Thiruvananthapuram. -
 blog it

Proactive approach by Centre and state govts needed

Proactive approach by Centre and state govts needed

Manipal, Oct 15: Disaster management requires multi-disciplinary and pro-active approach by the central and state governments, the community and civil society organisations, a top official of the National Disaster Reduction force said on Monday.

In the wake of the Orissa 'super cyclone,' and Gujarat earthquake, the Centre in the tenth plan has recognised disaster management as a "development issue", said D K Shami, Fire Adviser, Director General (NDRF) and Civil Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs, at the 'International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction' at Manipal Institute of Technology here.

Disaster, both natural and man-made, is inevitable, he said and sought a multi-pronged strategy for total risk management, comprising prevention, preparedness, response and recovery on the one hand and initiating development efforts aimed towards risk reduction, on the other.

Detailing the many initiatives taken during the plan period, Shami said civil defence set up in the country is being revamped and further strengthened to supplement local efforts for disaster response and relief.

Similarly, fire services are being modernised to convert them into multi-hazard response units. Bureau of Indian standards has issued new building codes for construction of different types of buildings in different seismic zones of the country.

Two national programmes to train 10,000 engineers and 10,000 architects on safe construction architectural practices is under implementation, he said, adding a community-based programme is under implementation in 169 multi-hazard districts in 17 states and union territories.
For more info  log on to  Disaster Awareness


Friday, October 12, 2007

Safety tip - October 2007 - Safety Tip For Halloween

Safety Tip For Halloween

Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe while enjoying some Halloween fun.

·         Small children should never carve pumpkins. Instead, let your child draw a face on the pumpkin.

·         Make your home safe for trick-or-treaters. Remove all objects around the outside of your house that could cause children to trip or fall. Turn your outside light on so children will know they can visit your home.

·         Keep candles, jack-o-lanterns, matches and lighters in a place that children cannot reach.

·         Halloween candles with multiple wicks close to one another are hazardous and should not be used. When lit they can produce a single high flame or several large flames close together resulting in intense heat and the danger of igniting nearby materials such as curtains or window sills.

·         Keep pets inside and away from trick-or-treaters and lit candles, especially if they are easily frightened or become over-excited in the presence of strangers.

·         If using decorative lights indoors or outdoors, use lights certified by a recognized organization such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or the Underwriters' Laboratory of Canada (ULC or C-UL). Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard damaged sets. Do not overload extension cords.

·         Accompany your children each year until the children are old enough to go by themselves. Still, safety-minded parents can follow along at a distance to keep an eye on the children.

Other Tips:

·         Tell your children not to eat any goodies until you see them. Make sure that your child eats dinner before they set out, so they'll be less tempted to eat their goodies along the way.

·         Children should stay in well-lit areas and should only visit homes that have their outside lights turned on. Children should never go inside homes or cars.

·         Children should walk, not run, from house to house and stay on the sidewalk or at the side of the road facing traffic, cross the road at the corner and look both ways before crossing the road.

This tip has been brought to you by Health Canada and Public Safety Canada.


Feel free to share this information with family and friends. To learn more about how to become better prepared to face a range of emergencies, visit www.GetPrepared.ca .


For more info on Disaster Awareness






South Africa: Disaster Reduction Strat to Improve Responses


The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), to be unveiled in Mpumalanga at the weekend, is to help local government respond better to environmental disasters.

Mpumalanga is recovering from the most devastating wildfires it has experienced, since 2003.

The fires have killed 17 people since the end of July. An estimated 42 000 hectares of plantations and 15 000 hectares of grazing land were destroyed in July and August, while another 6 000 hectares of land were burnt last week.

The last time the province was ravaged by fires was in 2003, when close to 40 000 hectares of land was destroyed in the province, resulting in the area being declared a disaster area.

The ISDR to be launched on Saturday, is spearheaded by the Mpumalanga Department of Local Government and Housing in Delmas.

The purpose of the campaign is to increase awareness and the importance of disaster risk reduction.

This will also enable communities to become resilient to natural and related technological and environmental disasters, reduce human, economic and social losses.

This year's theme is "Disaster Management begins at School" which highlights the need to keep children safe and involve them directly on disaster prevention and preparedness.

More than 20 schools in and around Delmas will participate in this celebrations.

The campaign will seek to address the following:

  • Increasing public awareness
  • Obtaining commitment from public authorities
  • Stimulating interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral partnership and expanding risk reduction network at all levels and
  • improving the scientific knowledge of the cause of disasters.
  • The event will have educational programmes, disaster prevention aspects, road safety measures and demonstrations on fire and

  • Different stakeholders involved in disaster management will educate the students on different aspects of disaster management.
For more info log on to

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Asia Unveils Disaster Education Campaign

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — In the 1950s, American children were taught to "duck and cover" in the case of a nuclear explosion. Now, Asia is stepping up its campaign to prepare school children for calamities.

But instead preparing for a nuclear Armageddon, the United Nations says schools are increasingly turning to games, plays and stories to teach children how to survive the earthquakes, tsunamis and floods that routinely ravage the region.

"The 2004 tsunami and the Pakistan earthquake in 2005 have been real catalysts in getting people to recognize the crucial importance of disaster risk reduction," said Gary Ovington, a regional emergency education specialist for UNICEF. He was speaking on the sidelines of a three-day disaster preparedness conference in Bangkok ending Wednesday.

"There has certainly been a lot more being done in the past three years," he said. "Before, it was hovering in the wings and now the whole issue of disaster-risk reduction and school safety has taken center stage."

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed as many as 230,000 people in 11 countries, was marked by a failure to warn many communities about the impending waves — mostly because of faulty equipment, poor communications and cumbersome bureaucracy.

It prompted the U.N. and six government donors, including the United States, to create a $130 million tsunami warning system in the region, which is expected to be fully operational at the end next year.

While the early warning system has mostly fallen into place, efforts to teach communities how to respond to impending disasters have gone more slowly. That is where schools come in, experts said, since they often reach more, influential young people as well as the community at large.

"In addressing school children, we're actually looking at educating future generations who will be able to address these issues in their families and community," said Michael Annear, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Southeast Asia regional disaster management unit.

Most curricula aim to help children understand natural threats, teach them how to escape a disaster and show what can be done to avert potential hazards — including warning against illegal logging, which can cause landslides, and building in flood zones.

In Japan and the Philippines, students practice earthquake drills — covering their heads as they head for the exits — and learn to identify disaster-proof homes. Indonesians in coastal communities are taught how to recognize the telltale signs of an impending tsunami, such as a massive quake and rapidly receding tide, and to evacuate to higher ground.

But the information must be packaged in an entertaining and interactive way to have an impact on children, experts said.

"You need repetition for kids to learn things but things also must be fun," said Derek Elias, a program specialist for UNESCO.

At the workshop, campaigns featuring cartoon characters like Mr. Warning in Thailand and adaptations of popular board games ranked among the most popular means of spreading the disaster preparation message.


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