The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), collaborated with the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) and the Punjab Emergency Service to organize a certification course for its Search and Rescue Teams (SARTs) in Lahore. The training, which was attended by 26 SART members, including men and women, aimed to develop skills for urban search and rescue, water rescue and powered rescue boat.
AKAH has led the development and capacity building of regional SARTs for over two decades. Recognizing the gender sensitivities in disaster response, nearly 35% of the SARTs’ members are women. Trained in light to medium search and rescue techniques according to the International Search and Rescue Response Guidelines (INSARAG), SARTs have actively responded in several national level disasters including: the Astore Earthquake in 2002, the Kashmir Earthquake in 2005, the building collapse in Lyari, Karachi in 2009, and the Attabad Landslide in 2010.
Appraising the need to focus on capacity building of SARTs to continue to effectively respond in events of disasters, the CEO of AKAH, Mr. Nawab Ali Khan expressed:
“The severe impacts of climate change and the increasing frequency of disasters in Pakistan call for improved capacities of the communities to cope against such disasters. Participation of SARTs in such courses is an essential way to equip their knowledge and skills for quality disaster response”.
While addressing the participants Dr. Rizwan Naseer, (Sitara-e-Imtiaz) Founder Director General of Punjab Emergency Services appreciated the efforts of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) for introducing the emergency management services in the country. He particularly appreciated the work of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) in Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) in the country. Dr. Rizwan hopes that a long-term partnership with AKDN would further benefit the emergency service in the country particularly in reaching those at risk of disasters.
The seven days long training session would enable the participant to inculcate search and rescue skills as well as would be also assessed as a certified trainer by the trainers from Punjab Emergency Service Academy Lahore and Mr. Peter from AKAH Global.
Four including two brothers killed in an avalanche in Drosh, Chitral
At least four people have been killed in an avalanche in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s largest district of Chitral. According to Khursheed Alam, the Deputy Commissioner Chitral, four dead bodies have been recovered. The avalanche occurred at around 3:00 AM on Sunday in Gorin Gol, an area in Shishikoh union council of Drosh, Chitral.
Abdul Wali Khan, the Assistant Commissioner Drosh, personally participated in the efforts for recoveries of bodies. Chitral Levies, local police, 1122 personnel, and community volunteers were engaged to recover the dead bodies. The rescue officials faced difficulties in transporting the injured to nearby hospitals due to blockage of roads. Pakistan Army had provided a helicopter for the rescue of the injured.
Earlier, Rescue 1122 personnel and volunteers rushed to the Shishikoh after over a dozen people went missing following a snow avalanche. Drosh region of Chitral received heavy snowfall since last Tuesday.
DC Chitral said in a press release that people were trapped beneath a thick mass of snow after the avalanche hit a village in Shishikoh’s Gorin Gol area.
The avalanche hit eight homes at around 3:00 AM said Sheema Ayub Khan, a spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Disaster Management Authority (KPDMA).
She added that three people have been rescued from the snow while at least three more were still trapped.
At least 10 people have been safely evacuated who were trapped under the avalanche.
The dead have been recognized as Momin s/o Khaista Khan, Amirzada s/o Khaista Khan, Saad Malook s/o Bahadur and Usman s/o Gul Mohammad.
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) celebrates Disaster Risk Reduction Week across Pakistan
Known for its scenic beauty, the mountainous regions of northern Pakistan are a popular tourist attraction. Apart from picturesque landscapes that meet the eye, what often goes unnoticed is that these valleys are extremely vulnerable to climate change and are categorized as one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world. Over the past few years, the high frequency of natural disasters across Pakistan – and particularly in northern Pakistan – has displaced thousands of innocent lives and has caused severe economic loss impacting public and private infrastructure and livelihoods.
The remnants of the Kashmir earthquake on 8th October 2005 are a strong reminder of the high disaster risk vulnerability of valleys in northern Pakistan. Claimed as the most devastating earthquake in the recent history of Pakistan, this earthquake killed more than 73,000 people, injured over 69,000 people, left 2.8 million people displaced from their homes and destroying 450,000 buildings. The aftermath of this traumatizing earthquake led the Government of Pakistan to declare 8th October as the National Day for Disaster Reduction and commit to improving the disaster risk vulnerability of communities in Pakistan. It is also pertinent to note that the United Nations’ General Assembly has declared 13th October as the International Day for Disaster Reduction.
To stress the criticality of disaster risk reduction associated with these national and international days, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) is celebrating the Disaster Risk Reduction Week across Pakistan from 8th to 14th October. An affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), AKAH has successfully led community driven humanitarian initiatives to save innocent lives and infrastructure, particularly for communities living in the rural mountainous areas in Pakistan since 1998. Over two decades, AKAH has designed disaster risk plans and formed community-led organizations in over 750 rural and urban settlements to help them prepare and adapt against disasters and respond independently in the event of a disaster.
This year AKAH’s Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Week features multiple activities including raising awareness for students ranging from schools, colleges and universities across Pakistan on how to prepare against disasters through seminars, speech competitions and transect walks. Asadullah, a high school student in Gilgit explains,
“Through the simulation for earthquake safety organized by AKAH in our school, I have learned that the initial 60 seconds are crucial after a disaster. Hence, rather than panicking, we should take cover and follow the steps taught in the stimulation to save our lives”.
The scenario-based drills are not only limited to educational institutions but also conducted in other rural and urban areas across Pakistan. During the DRR Week, these drills focus on communities, especially women and children, to increase their knowledge about disasters and enhance their capacities to respond effectively in disaster situations.
In addition, Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) is also engaging actively with government authorities to strengthen institutional liaising for better-coordinated response in events of disasters. In this regard, AKAH has trained over 1,000 representatives from government authorities, and over 40,000 community volunteers on effective disaster risk management.
The celebrations during the DRR Week reflect the harsh reality that mountain communities in northern Pakistan in particular, and all areas of the country in general, are exposed to a high frequency of natural hazards. On the other hand, the DRR Week reaffirms in raising awareness that losses from such disasters can be minimized if we are collectively well prepared against tackling the natural disaster.
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