FOCUS Pakistan marks International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction

ISLAMABAD 21 October 2015: Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) participated in a week of activities to commemorate the  International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) with various activities. The focus of this year’s IDDR theme “Knowledge for Life” is on the traditional, indigenous and local knowledge which complement modern science and add to an individual’s and societies’ resilience.

As part of the week-long commemoration, FOCUS Pakistan’s trainers conducted various sessions at public and private schools to impart knowledge on Disaster Management, Climate Change, Road Safety, and First Aid. Teachers and staff were shown how to develop evacuation plans during hazards. Experts from FOCUS Pakistan also organised firefighting training drills and awareness sessions on first aid, which are skills required during emergencies. Through practical exercises, teachers and students were taught “Drop” “Cover” and “Hold-On” as the simple but necessary steps to take during an earthquake.

In addition, knowledge was imparted through radio shows on the significance of Disaster Risk Reduction reaching the most remote areas of the Northern region. Four shows covering Chitral were held during the IDDR week in which various experts participated including Mr. Hamid Mir, Programme Manager Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) Project, Dr. Nur-ul-Islam, Government Health Department, Dr. Inyatullah Faizi, Mr. Ajaz Ahmad, District In-Charge Non-Timber Forest Production (NTFP) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Forest Department Chitral, Mr. Muhkamuddin, Senior Journalist & President Press Club along with other officials from the Government and FOCUS Pakistan.

Mr. Hamid Mir said that, “13 % of Chitral consists of GLOF areas and in the last 20 years the frequency and intensity of glacial floods have comparatively increased due to climate change.  FOCUS Pakistan is playing an important role in raising awareness as well as equipping communities to prepare for these and similar hazards. The government is also taking part in GLOF prevention initiatives. We need to have collective efforts for awareness of climate change and should place more emphasis on plantation and usage of natural resources for domestic use.”

 “Resilience must be about building stronger societies today to prepare for tomorrow and for this, sharing of traditional, indigenous and local knowledge is very important along with advocacy,” added Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer, FOCUS.

The International Day for Disaster Reduction was started by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. It is a day to celebrate how people and communities are reducing risks to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of DRR. It is also a day to encourage every citizen and government to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and nations.

Since 1998, FOCUS Pakistan has taken initiatives for Disaster Risk Reduction and has attained significant achievements on Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness. The ShakeOut annual global earthquake drill is one example, which creates awareness on the steps to take during an earthquake. FOCUS manages the AKDN ShakeOut drill, which took place in 20 countries and 1611 facilities in 2014. More than 300000 people, including AKDN staff, volunteers, students, organisations, community members, men and women participated in the drill last year. AKDN has been participating in the drill since 2011 — an initiative that emerged from its collaboration with California’s Office of Emergency Services under the Agreement of Cooperation between the Ismaili Imamat and the State of California.

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