Gilgit, 15 Nov 2016: Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, today released a report stating that over 46% of the households, in 290 villages covered in Gilgit-Baltistan, live in multiple hazard and risk areas, including over 8% in the high-risk category. Similarly, almost one-third of the schools, health facilities, prayer facilities and more than half of critical facilities such as bridges, telecom towers, and power stations are at direct risk of disasters.
The results were disseminated at a seminar on “Hazard Mapping & Risk Assessments” at the Serena Hotel, Gilgit organized to share with the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan key findings from the assessment, along with hazard and risk maps developed for over 290 villages. The hazard and risk maps will be used as a tool for planning and decision-making in the government’s annual budget cycle. Similar maps developed by FOCUS Pakistan for Chitral were shared at an event held in Chitral last month.
The seminar was attended by Chief Guest Mr. Hafiz Hafeez-ur-Rehman, Chief Minister for Gilgit-Baltistan, and members of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Councils, government officials, representatives from the academia, DRR Forum, officials of non-governmental and civil society organizations.
Acknowledging the importance of disaster preparedness in the region, Chief Minister Hafiz-ur-Rehman said, “Gilgit-Baltistan is vital to the political and economic interests of Pakistan, being at a strategic location and bordering with China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It is therefore important to look at new opportunities for the interaction of natural resource management, policies and disaster risk reduction strategies, particularly in the context of decentralization reforms and distribution of mandates at village and community levels.”
For over two decades, FOCUS has been working closely with the government on disaster preparedness and response across Pakistan and implementing a comprehensive disaster risk management programme. It includes hazard and risk assessments with mapping of villages, creation of village based Disaster Risk Management plans, training of local communities and stockpiling of non-food items in remote and hazard prone villages.
Earlier, in her welcome remarks, Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer of FOCUS Pakistan emphasized that early hazard identification and the development of risk assessments are pivotal for preparing a disaster risk reduction strategy. Highlighting FOCUS’ achievements in Gilgit-Baltistan she further added that, “most of the identified at-risk populations are those that are living along streams, river beds and high steep slopes, and downstream of Glaciers.”