Islamabad, February 26, 2009: Lessons and experiences from the project “Building Local Leadership and Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Northern Pakistan” were presented at an advocacy and dissemination seminar organized by Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) in Islamabad. The project was supported by the European Commission through its Humanitarian Aid department.
The objective of the event was to deliberate on ways of mainstreaming and institutionalizing disaster risk reduction initiatives, analysing the socio-economic costs of disasters and understanding current situation and future trends with regard to DRR.
Dignitaries and experts shared their experiences with regard to approaches to disaster risk reduction. Mr. Baber Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad, Chief Secretary Northern Areas said that the role of FOCUS is exemplary in Disaster Risk Management. He also acknowledged the contribution of other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and urged FOCUS to continue the support to the government of Northern Areas given the fact that capacities at government level are limited.
Mr. Moatasim Billah, District Coordination Officer, recognized the efforts of FOCUS with regard to its role in developing district disaster management plan for Chitral as well as the support for providing heli to access a very remote area in Chitral for search of missing people who were hit by avalanche.
Mr. Woolfgang Herbinger, the Country Director for World Food Programme, a signatory to One UN Programme, termed the FOCUS programme as a unique initiative and expressed his desire to replicate in other parts of Pakistan.
In his introductory remarks, Mr. Iqbal Walji, President Ismaili Council for Pakistan gave a brief about the ethos and approaches of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which translates ideals such as compassion, care for others and serving the humanity and other basic principles of Islam.
Mr. Ghulam Panjwani, Executive Officer FOCUS Pakistan, said that FOCUS’ experience of a decade reflects the fact that working in close collaboration with communities can only make the efforts of DRR sustainable hence leading to promotion of disaster resilient communities. He appreciated the dedication and hard work of thousands of volunteers who render their services and support the work of FOCUS. The event was followed by a simulation exercise carried out by the volunteers of FOCUS Search and Rescue Team (SART) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).