Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster Risk Reduction

Building long term resilience in unstable and remote regions.

Building long term resilience in unstable and remote regions.

Our approach to disaster risk reduction

The Foundation works with hundreds of high risk communities across Central and South Asia to decrease their vulnerability to natural disasters and prepares them to respond rapidly and effectively. Communities are empowered in the learning process that involves building awareness, training local capacity, retrofitting, risk assessments, and a host of other mitigation projects that builds long-term resilience.

CASE STUDY: Fostering resilient communities
Reducing mountainous communities’ risk to disasters in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

Challenge: A region that experiences frequent natural disasters exacerbated by climate change

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are the most vulnerable countries to climate change in Eurasia. Their geography and topography make them extremely at risk to natural disasters, such as landslides, earthquakes, avalanches and floods.

Almost 93% of Tajikistan’s surface area is covered with mountains. Similarly, Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked, mountainous country. Rising temperatures, rapid snowmelt and changing rain patterns mean natural disasters will increase in both intensity, and frequency. The impact could prove catastrophic, with devastating effects on the national economy and communities throughout the vulnerable region.

Over 3,000 earthquakes of varying sizes are registered annually in the mountainous region. Since 2012, over 280 natural disasters have been reported in Tajikistan, resulting in high damage costs, and tragically claiming human lives.

Communities in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan lack the necessary resources and funds to respond to, and address natural calamities. Limited availability of land outside the mountainous regions for habitation, agriculture and commercial purposes force people to build homes and businesses in hazardous areas, leaving these populations extremely vulnerable to major disasters.

The challenge is to improve awareness and preparedness for when disaster strikes. Raising awareness is crucial to saving lives, as these remote areas can become inaccessible after a disaster, blocking emergency services from delivering food and first aid. Communities need to know what to do in the event of a disaster, to reduce the high risk of fatalities and destruction to their livelihoods.

Response: Building awareness and developing the skills to respond when disaster strikes

Working with its sister agencies, and with funding from the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), AKF stages prevention and mitigation interventions to enable communities to protect their land and homes, and recognise the potential effects of climate change. These interventions complement local development planning and enable communities to make informed decisions before, during, and after disasters. Activities include:

  • Strengthening public buildings and homes, and general infrastructure.
  • Introducing disaster awareness in schools, enabling school children to transfer their knowledge to their families and the wider community. In 2013, 84% of schools, and 85% of kindergartens were reported as unsafe. To reduce the loss of life, school buildings are being retrofitted with stronger support structures.
  • University graduates participate in intensive internship programmes, training them to become potential specialists in integrated risk management.
  • Training tour guides to save lives of visiting tourists, and during the off-season, serve as the main source of information and guidance for community first aid when rock-falls and avalanches prevent access to remote areas and delay emergency services.
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Tajikistan experiences 70+ flood events and 9,000 earthquakes per year

Climate change is likely to directly affect poor people’s livelihood assets and make poor households even more vulnerable, which could in turn exacerbate the incidence, severity, and persistence of poverty in developing countries.

World Bank Group, The Poverty & Welfare Impacts of
Climate Change

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A  Community Emergency Response Team runs through a training exercise.

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CERT members develop a variety of skills so that they can respond effectively and efficiently after a disaster.