AKAH and WFO to build capacity in disaster response

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Emergency Department of Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) previously Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan organised a Knowledge and Experience Sharing seminar today on effective disaster preparedness and response at the Ramada Hotel, Islamabad, says a Press release.

Over 150 participants attended the seminar, representing the National and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities, Department of Education, UN agencies, agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), humanitarian aid organisations, district administration, teachers, students and community members.

Cristiano Mandra, Senior Disaster Risk Management/Resilience Advisor, WFP Pakistan, acknowledged the successful partnership between FOCUS and UNWFP: “Pakistan has suffered from consecutive natural disasters and emergencies in the recent past, including devastating earthquakes and flooding, which has caused the loss to life and property. These losses can be minimised by educating people on disaster risk management and disaster response strategies.”

The initiative is part of the WFP-funded programmes on Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) and School Safety for six hazard prone districts in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Almost 6,000 community members and 22,000 school children have been sensitised on disaster risks.

They also benefitted from enhanced knowledge and skills on effective disaster preparedness and response, which includes assessment and identification of local hazards, basic search and rescue, basic first aid, and creation of disaster risk management plans at school and village levels. The programmes have covered over 120 schools across Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including physical infrastructure improvements in some schools.

Highlighting that Pakistan is a disaster-prone country, Raheela Saad, a member of NDMA, emphasised that the public, private and civil society sectors need to work together in order to reduce vulnerability of communities against disasters. “We will remain committed to provide leadership and strategic guidance on disaster preparedness and response initiatives across Pakistan,” she said.

Speaking about the project’s success to the participants, the Chief Executive Officer of AKAH Pakistan, Nawab Ali Khan, said, “Improving the disaster risk resilience and the overall quality of life of communities living in vulnerable and disaster-prone areas is one of the key mandates of AKDN.”

In the long run, initiatives on CBDRM and School Safety will contribute to the mission of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and protect vulnerable populations from induced hazards and other disasters.

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