PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOCUS EXPANDS RELIEF EFFORT FOR VICITIMS OF CYCLONE GAFILO IN MADAGASCAR TO HEALTH AND EDUCATION NEEDS
Antananarivo, Madagascar, 26 March, 2004 – Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS), an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, has decided to expand its emergency relief intervention into education and health care support to serve some of the more than 200,000 people affected by Cyclone Gafilo in northern Madagascar. This intervention is part of the commitment of US$100,000 made by His Highness the Aga Khan in his message of sympathy to President Marc Ravalomanana following the cyclone.
Responding to urgent needs, FOCUS—in partnership with the Conseil National de Secours (CNS), (the Government of Madagascar’s national disaster agency), Catholic Relief Services, UNICEF and other agencies—has already transported provisions and education support material by truck and boat to some of the most remote parts of Majunga province.
“Work has commenced on responding in a preventive manner to the very high risk of widespread water-borne disease, in coordination with other local and international agencies, said Mr. Pinou Cheraly, FOCUS’s representative in Majunga, “we have already begun to identify needs in the education sector and to plan solutions involving targeted material assistance.”
Cyclone Gafilo made landfall near the city of Antalaha in Antsiranana province with winds averaging 300 kilometres per hour battering the northern part of Madagascar less than a month after Cyclone Elita swept a similar path killing 29 people.
FOCUS, whose experience includes responses to similar major cyclones in Mozambique (in 2000) and in Pakistan (in 1999), last intervened in Madagascar during a cholera outbreak in 1999.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance Europe Foundation
Fax : +44 208 655 16 49
E-mail : email@example.com
Website : www.akdn.org
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is an international group of agencies established in Europe, North America, and South and Central Asia that have developed a specialisation in disaster preparedness, mitigation, prevention and disaster response.
FOCUS is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network. The Network is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies and institutions that seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities in specific regions of Africa and Asia. Active in over 30 countries, the Network's underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society and its agencies and institutions work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of origin, gender or religion.
Japanese Embassy, Focus Humanitarian Assistance sign agreement to reduce the risk of communities in Tajikistan to natural hazards
March 26, 2009
Posted by ismailimail in Aga Khan Development Network, Asia, FOCUS Humanitarian, Tajikistan.
March 25, 2009, Asia-PLUS Daily Blitz
DUSHANBE, March 25, 2009, Asia-Plus — Every year communities in the mountainous regions of Tajikistan are subject to natural hazards such as landslides and debris flows.
In an effort to reduce the resulting risk run by those communities, the Embassy of Japan in Dushanbe and Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) on March 20 signed an agreement to hydro-insulate a water channel in the district of Roshtqala and rehabilitate a debris flow channel in the district of Ishkashim, press release issued by FOCU Humanitarian Assistance said.
FOCUS will implement these activities in partnership with the Government of Tajikistan and the communities in these districts. The agreement is signed under the auspices of the Japanese Grant Assistance for Grass-root Human Security Projects and is a continuation of the long-standing partnership between the Government of Japan and FOCUS to reduce the risk of communities in Tajikistan to natural hazards.
Since 2001, FOCUS, with the support of the Government of Japan, has implemented a variety of disaster risk reduction projects in the Republic of Tajikistan.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is an international disaster management and emergency response agency providing relief and support services during and following natural and man-made disasters, primarily in the developing world. It is established in Europe, North America, Central and South Asia and helps people in need reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid and facilitates their transition to sustainable, self-reliant, long-term development. Since 1997, FOCUS in Tajikistan has responded to over 40 natural disasters and deployed over USD 600,000 for relief to affected communities.
FOCUS is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of institutions working to improve opportunities and living conditions for people of all faiths and origins in specific regions of the developing world.
A changing climate: Exploring the social impact of global warming
On Wednesday, 18 February, guests at the Ismaili Centre Lecture Series in London found themselves captivated by the vibrant panel discussion taking place before them. The “hot” topic was global warming, and its impact on the developing world. The audience quickly discovered it to be an issue that offers no easy answers.
The panel was chaired by Dan Smith of International Alert, a London-based international peace-building organisation. He was joined by Camilla Toulmin of the International Institute for Environment and Development, an independent think-tank, and Lord Adair Turner, Chairman of both the United Kingdom Government's Committee on Climate Change and the country’s independent Financial Services Authority. Dr Salim Sumar, Executive Officer of Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Europe, completed the panel.
The panellists engage in discussion. From left to right: Dan Smith, Lord Adair Turner, Camilla Toulmin, Dr Salim Sumar. Photo: Abdul Khakoo
In addition to exploring the causes of climate change and possible ways to mitigate its impact, the panel sought to look at the issue from a different perspective. Although the current discourse around climate change focuses on its consequences for the natural environment, these consequences also carry social implications that have a profound bearing on the work of FOCUS.
FOCUS, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, aims to foster disaster-resilience in communities that are particularly vulnerable to natural and man-made disaster. It also extends humanitarian relief and recovery in the wake of disasters.
The panel began by examining the potential impact of global warming on economic development. Storms affected by climate change can damage or destroy infrastructure that is critical to the functioning of an economy. Moreover, many countries are experiencing new rainfall patterns. Southern Africa is receiving less precipitation, rendering the region prone to drought, while increased rainfall in the northern and eastern parts of the continent result in flooding.
Such changes, speculated the panel, would create winners and losers — and that this could lead to conflict.
Sumar noted that effective responses to disasters are less simple than they were in the past, and that more NGOs are needed to help in regions affected by floods. In addition, Smith pointed out that the impact of disasters is difficult to confine within borders; floods that affect India, for example, go on to affect Bangladesh.
Lord Turner reflected on the UK’s leadership role. He observed that even if global targets are met, global temperatures may still increase two degrees by 2020. The panellists agreed, as discussion moved to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen planned for December 2009, that the UK and the United States had to take the lead in swaying other countries in a positive direction.
But international diplomacy is only one part of a broader shift in thinking. There is a need for governments and civil society to “start measuring what we value, rather than just economic factors,” said Toulmin. This should result in a shift towards cooperation and away from conflict; economic growth should not be the only driving factor in decision making. However, Lord Turner felt that “we can solve climate change and still have growth in GDP, as long as we don’t make it as much of an end as we have in the past.”
Recent years have seen climate change established as a fact. Now the challenge is to arrest the pace of this change and assist the poorest in mitigating its impact on their livelihoods. Asked what single thing could most help to mitigate conflict stemming from climate change, Toulmin summed up: “Real security comes from building a climate of trust, rather than building a climate of fear.”
Swine influenza, or “swine flu”, is a contagious acute respiratory disease of pigs, caused by one of several swine influenza A viruses. People do not normally get swine flu, but cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses have been reported and confirmed internationally.
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
This virus is thought to be spreading in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food.
How can transmission of the flu be avoided?
To protect yourself and others, practice general preventive measures for influenza:
Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell or who have fever and cough
Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly
Practice good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active
Clean hard surfaces (kitchen worktops, door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product
Do I need a face mask?
Although wearing a mask is unlikely to be effective in preventing the infection it may limit further spread of the virus.
What are the symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of ordinary flu, but may be more severe and cause serious complications. The typical symptoms are:
Other symptoms may include:
limb or joint pain
diarrhoea or vomiting
loss of appetite
If you have flu-like symptoms:
If you develop severe flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately, particularly if you have recently travelled to Mexico or another affected area.
If you are sick stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.
What precautions should I take if I am travelling?
People using public transport are being reminded to observe good hygiene. In regard to international travel, please refer to your local transport authority for guidance and recommendations.
What is a pandemic?
A pandemic is a global outbreak of disease. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population. It begins by causing serious illness and then spreads from person-to-person.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance Receives UN Disaster Reduction Award
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (Pakistan) was selected by the Jury of the 2009 UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction to receive a Certificate of Merit for enhancing disaster risk reduction. Chairman Amyn Dossa, together with the Executive Officer Ghulam Panjwani, received the award at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2nd forum, on behalf of Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) from Sir John Holmes, the Under Secretary for humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
The United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster reduction is one of the three prestigious awards established in 1986 by founding Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Mr Ryoichi Sasakawa. The Award is managed by the UNISDR secretariat and presented to individuals/institutions that have been selected by independent jury for their outstanding contributions to disaster prevention and vulnerability reduction worldwide.
About the recipients of the 2009 UN Sasakawa Prize for Disaster Reduction
The 2009 laureate for the Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction is geologist Dr. Eko Teguh Paripurno, as was unanimously decided by the jury for the Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction. Additionally, five organizations actively involved in disaster reduction are awarded Certificates (two Certificates of Distinction, three Certificates of Merit). All award winners significantly contributed to the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, a globally adopted plan to further Disaster Risk Reduction. The decisions were taken following a selection process involving careful deliberation and a thorough review of the submitted material.
With the recovery 13 more bodies from the debris of a collapsed building in Liaquatabad No. 6, the death toll for the incident reached 17 on Wednesday. One of the 13 injured died at the Abbassi Shaheed Hospital, sources told The News.
The four-storey under-construction building on plot no. 517 collapsed around 8:30 pm Tuesday night near Firdous Market in Liaquatabad No.6. Rescue workers from different agencies pulled out 13 injured people, and 16 bodies from the debris.
The removal of debris with heavy machinery was under way till the time this report was filed.
“Volunteers of Focus Pakistan were using snake-eye cameras and vibraphones to detect anybody still alive but trapped in the debris of the collapsed building. Some 13 injured people were rescued,” said Murad Pyar Ali, the team leader of the Focus Pakistan Search and Rescue Team, affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network.
The Focus Pakistan team members, who were trained by experts from Sweden and UK in carrying out search and rescue operations and have the experience of working at the destroyed site of Marriot Hotel Islamabad, said that they reached the site around 10:00 pm Tuesday night.
“Our 14 male and six female rescuers are here in two shifts since then and are assisting the city and town administration in pulling out the injured from the rubble.” another Focus Pakistan member, Zainab, said.
Those who died in the incident were identified as 55-year-old Abdul Hameed, 35-year-old Imran, Tahir, Imran, Muhammad Zareen, Wahid Chiniot, Akhtar, Gul Bacha, Sher Bacha, Khan Noor, Muhammad Sebroz Khan, Aqeel, Sufyan, Abdul Nazir, Dildar, Ghulam Rasool and Yusuf. The latter is believed to be one of the owners of the collapsed building.
The injured people were identified as Muhammad Zeeshan, Abdus Sattar, Ghulam Ahmed, Sabira Khatoon, Tahir Shahzad, Fawad, Mehmood Sarfraz, Zulfiqar, Janu, and Muhammad Javed, along with one unidentified person who was still unconscious.
Rescuers, including officials of the city government, Liaquatabad Town administration, Fire brigade personnel and crew from private rescue services, said that they were trying their best to pull out anybody trapped alive inside the building.
“Over 60 to 70 per cent of the debris and rubble has been removed and the rest will be cleared within next three to four hours. There may be more people trapped in the building, but their chances of survival are diminishing,” Afzal, an official of the Fire Brigade said.
Case Registered: The Liaquatabad police have registered a case on the complaint of Arif against two people, Yousuf (said to be the owner of the building) and Zeeshan (who fled from the hospital in an injured condition).
SHO Liaquatabad Naeem Khan told The News that they have registered a case under sections 322, 288, 377 A-1 and 337 F-1. “An FIR (123/09) has been registered on the complaint of Arif against Yousuf and Zeeshan but we have made no arrests so far in this connection,” he said.
‘It collapsed with a bang — I couldn’t speak’: Twenty-eight-year-old Muhammad Javed, who was pulled out of the debris by the rescuers after 16 hours, was taken to the Abbassi Shaheed Hospital where he was rapidly recovering but was in a state of shock after seeing death so closely.
He told The News that he was a labourer by profession and it was his first day at the site of the under-construction building when it collapsed in the evening.
“I am a resident of Orangi Town and have three children. I was hired by the contractor at Rs330 per day and my job was to work as a painter and general labourer at the building. I was on the ground floor of the building when it collapsed with a bang just a few minutes after the Maghrib prayer call,” Javed said.
He said that when the building collapsed, a cloud of dust and darkness engulfed him but he found some open space where he could sit. “It was dark there. I could hear distant sounds such as screams and shouts but I didn’t make any noise as I was in complete shock,” he said.
Javed said although he sustained injuries in the head, back and legs, he didn’t feel any pain and the only thoughts in his mind were about God and his children.
Eyewitnesses’ speak: Najeebullah, a waiter at a tea shop near the collapsed building, was was a few yards away from this building when he saw it coming down. “Its front portion fell on the main street that connects it with Sharah-e-Pakistan. At that time, there were several people under the building, including women and children,” he said.
Another person, Farhan, said that he was sitting outside the shop opposite the collapsed building when he saw it falling.
“There were many people near and under the building while the street was crowded with pushcarts, women, children and other passersby. I believe that well over 30 people were trapped underneath the debris when the building fell,” he said.
Hike4Life around Issyk Kul Lake Kyrgyzstan
August 6, 2009
Posted by ismailimail in Asia, FOCUS Humanitarian, Kyrgyzstan.
Forty hikers from Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Switzerland, UK and USA arrived in Kyrgyzstan to embark on the first Summer Hike4Life around Issyk Kul Lake. The hikers are motivated by a desire to help communities around the world benefit from the work of Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS), an international crisis response and disaster risk mitigation affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
Hike4Life is part of a series of annual FOCUS Challenge events that have taken the form of bike rides and hikes through some of the most challenging trails and beautiful environments in the world. “The event is being held in Central Asia for the first time and we have chosen Kyrgyzstan because of the strong relationship that AKDN has with this country,” said one of the organizing team members.
During a fascinating nine-day adventure the participants will hike over 100 kilometres following on of the routes of the ancient Silk Road on the southern coast of the Issyk Kul Lake starting from the stunning Boom gorge to the City of Karakol via Jety Ogyz mountain pass, along Chon and Kichi Kyzyl Suu.
“This is a great event helping people to network globally, to get exposed to so many different cultures and learn more about Kyrgyzstan, its beautiful nature and traditions,” shared her expectations one of the event participants.
In preparations for the event, participants have spent months raising funds and spreading awareness of FOCUS’ work in their home countries. Funds raised through Challenge events go towards empowering communities living in disaster-prone regions, where FOCUS provides humanitarian responses when disasters occur, and helps communities prepare by training them to become first responders. In 2008, following the devastating earthquake in Nura Village, FOCUS through AKDN provided relief assistance to the affected people of Kyrgyzstan.
Previous Hike4Life events have been organized in the winter in Egypt, India, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania. FOCUS is planning the Hike4Life event in Uganda this winter.
FOCUS and Council for Canada Honored by Canadian Government
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) and the Council for Canada, together with a number of other organizations, were honored for their work on refugee settlement at a ceremony in Toronto, on Friday, October 9, 2009.
The occasion was the 30th Anniversary of the Private Sponsorship Program (PSR) run by the Canadian Government which has facilitated over 200,000 refugees to enter the country, settle and establish new lives.
Through protocols with the Canadian and Quebec governments between 1992 and 2001 members of our Jamat from Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Syria were resettled in Canada by FOCUS Canada on behalf of the Council. The National Settlement Portfolio provided resettlement assistance to our brothers and sisters following their arrival in Canada.
In a letter presented to sponsorship holders, The Honorable Jason Kenney PC, MP Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, indicated that “the work you undertake in supporting refugees is a voluntary act, motivated by compassion, caring, and desire to take an active role in protecting refugees… I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude for your contribution and personal sacrifice, which has allowed Canada to fulfill its humanitarian commitment to assist victims of
persecution, human rights violations, and injustice from around the globe. The support from you and your organization has saved lives and ensured that sponsored refugees contribute to the social economic, political and cultural life of Canadian society”.
Mr Gulam Juma, Focus International Coordinating Committee coordinator and Ms. Mina Mawani, CEO of the Council for Canada attended the ceremony in Toronto.
FOCUS Canada is an agency of the Council which assists in the preparedness for disaster response and recovery from natural and man-made disasters affecting the Jamat. FOCUS strives to establish the Jamat as a disaster resilient community.
FOCUS recognised for its disaster response and relief efforts in the wake of hurricanes
Ali Velshi and SACC President Mustafa Tameez present the 2009 Outstanding Community Organization Award to FOCUS Board Member Nasir Panjwani. Photo: Shiraz Maherali
At a Gala Dinner on 9 October, the South Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) of Houston, Texas honoured Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) with the 2009 Outstanding Community Organization Award for their disaster response and relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, Rita and Ike that affected the Southern United States.
Founded in 1993, the SACC is a non-profit organisation representing South Asian Americans, whose mission is to provide leadership that helps create regional economic prosperity and success for its members.
From left: Ali Velshi (CNN), Shaukat Zakaria (SACC Co-Chair), Mustafa Tameez (SACC President), Dr Amirali Popatia (FOCUS), Nasir Panjwani (FOCUS), Munira Panjwani-Zahid (SACC Co-chair), Nomaan Husain (SACC President-elect). Photo: Shiraz Maherali
Focus Humanitarian Assistance is an international disaster planning, risk management and crisis response agency. Its planning function includes training, stockpiling and expertise in times of crises. During a crisis, whether natural or man-made, it provides emergency relief to all communities in its areas of operation.
“The reason Focus Humanitarian Assistance was chosen for the Outstanding Community Organization Award was because it’s doing impressive humanitarian work for the community at large, not only in the US, but globally, ” said SACC President Mustafa Tameez.
FOCUS volunteers offer support to the community in Beaumont, Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Photo: Courtesy of FOCUS
Chief Guest and CNN business anchor Ali Velshi presented the award to Dr Amirali Popatia, Vice-Chairman of FOCUS USA, and Nasir Panjwani, FOCUS USA Board member, at the Gala banquet. Velshi, author of Gimme My Money Back: Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis, was chosen as the keynote speaker in appreciation of his work as an outstanding media personality in the business world.
In his opening remarks, President Tameez remarked on the dedication of FOCUS volunteers and staff, who in anticipation of Hurricane Ike established a Crisis Response Team and 24-hour hotline to offer information and timely assistance to those affected. Rozmin Velani, one of the volunteers, recounts that “in one of the calls to the hotline, there was a frantic call from a family.”
FOCUS volunteers and staff in San Antonio work to sort and distribute clothes to help those affected rebuild their lives. Photo: Courtesy of FOCUS“
This family had an older parent visiting from another state,” she continues, “and in the midst of the storm, the parent started experiencing chest pains. With most communication methods overwhelmed and 9-1-1 emergency response unreachable due to the overload of calls, the Hurricane Ike Hotline was crucial.” Volunteers on the other end of the phone were able to guide the family through the crisis and get appropriate assistance, which helped save a life.
Throughout the hurricanes that devastated parts of the Southern United States, volunteers assisted in providing food and supplies to over 150 000 displaced people who sought shelter in Houston, while over 250 FOCUS volunteers participated in training by the Red Cross to assist displaced individuals in various shelters. Volunteers also worked with local governments and agencies to ensure that mandatory evacuation orders were adhered to, and that residents were safe and comfortable.
Many families lost their homes and livelihoods following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. FOCUS volunteers and staff in San Antonio, brought smiles to the faces of young children and families by distributing clothes, toys and basic amenities as part of an effort to assist them in rebuilding their lives. Photo: Courtesy of FOCUS
FOCUS collaborated closely with the Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston and the City of Houston in delivering meals, water and ice immediately after the hurricane had passed. In coordination with other volunteer groups, FOCUS volunteers helped to remove debris from ruined homes and ensured that resettlement assistance was available to families in need. Although the hurricanes caused massive devastation, it also left lasting footprints, as people from different walks of life came together with a common goal of assisting others.
The work of FOCUS’ dedicated staff and volunteers in the United States and throughout the world has ensured that communities who have been affected by disaster are not only able to cope in the immediate aftermath, but are also better prepared should any future disaster befall them. It is also forging strong relationships with a number of international and local partner agencies and institutions in order to better serve the communities in which they operate. FOCUS continually seeks to be a model, world-class community-based emergency humanitarian assistance organisation, with an emphasis on developing disaster resilient communities.
As an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development (AKDN), FOCUS works alongside the global agencies of the AKDN in regions where longer term development is viable and sustainable after a social crisis. FOCUS and AKDN agencies also collaborate to provide health and livelihood recovery and rehabilitation initiatives for vulnerable groups during protracted crises.
Tajikistan : News Bulletin No.13, 27 Jan - 10 Feb 2010
Source: United Nations Country Team in Tajikistan
Date: 10 Feb 2010
Full_Report (pdf* format - 63.3 Kbytes)
At a glance
- Retrofitted schools withstand quake in Vanj
- 14,000 people in Rasht have water again
- Damage to 5 non-retrofitted schools in Vanj
- In-kind assistance from Iranian Red Crescent
- Early Recovery Appeal funded for 46%
Retrofitted schools withstand quake in Vanj
During the recent earthquake in Vanj district, in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), all three schools retrofitted in recent months by Focus Humanitarian Assistance withstood the tremors without incurring damage.
In 2009, as part of its on-going mission to foster disaster-resilient communities in Tajikistan, FOCUS piloted the School Safety Initiative Project in collaboration with the Government of Tajikistan and the United States Department of Agriculture.
The project identified 12 pilot schools in the districts of Vanj, Rushan, Shugnan and Roshtqala in GBAO. A number of disaster risk reduction interventions were applied, including a risk assessment and mapping, structural retrofitting of the schools, earthquake risk awareness, and preparedness trainings for the communities.
According to the Director of one of the pilot schools located in Paishanbeobod, a village affected by the quake, "the [retrofitted] school is very safe and a model of how to construct community infrastructure." For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
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May 19, 2010 by Gilgit-Baltistan Times Leave a Comment
Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani visited Lake Barrier and Gulmit Water has entered mouth of the spillway channel, resulting in reduction of the freeboard to 33.39 ft, according to FOCUS estimate
Gulmit village, headquarter of Gojal Tehsil, is covered by water from three sides Length of the lake has extended beyond Gulmit (17 km), reaching the outskirts of Hussaini village
Four Emergency Information Centers are being established in Hunza – Nagar under the leadership of District Administration
FOCUS is establishing an Information Cell in Islamabad and two in Gilgit
Camp management plans have been developed as part of the preparedness mechanism developed jointly by FOCUS and government of Pakistan
All schools have been closed in Hunza – Nagar district
FOCUS prepares disaster management teams in North America for the inevitable
Michael Kahlenberg leads FOCUS Regional Disaster Managers a tour of the Emergency Operations Center at the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Houston. Photo: Imran Jaffer
They strike suddenly — often with little or no warning — and are capable of overwhelming destruction.
Natural disasters caused by landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, avalanches, floods, wind and ice storms can occur in any part of the world — North America is not immune. In April alone, 32 tornadoes were reported in Kansas, Colorado and Texas, while four major blizzards and winter storms impacted the mid-Atlantic and Eastern United States earlier this year. Just last November, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake rocked British Columbia. That same year, Ontario made headlines with 18 registered tornadoes in the span of one month.
These are all sobering reminders of the value and importance of being prepared. Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) — an international disaster planning, risk management and crisis response agency — conducted training conferences in disaster management leadership for its Regional Disaster Manager Teams (RDMTs) in Houston this February and two months later in Toronto. Titled Are we Ready?, the training prepared Regional Disaster Managers (RDMs) to respond effectively in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
Not if but when
Preparing for the unexpected:
A family takes lessons from a house fire
Confronted with a fire in their apartment complex in the middle of the night, a family’s quick thinking and presence of mind saved precious lives. The incident also illustrates the value of disaster preparedness.
The face of disaster — both natural and man-made — has greatly evolved over the years mainly due to climate change, unexpected weather patterns and increased political insecurity.
“Today, disaster management is a moving target with new kinds of threats emerging and new ways for mass populations to be affected,” said Rozmin Velani, a RDMT member for Southwestern United States. Ongoing training is essential to plan for and mitigate the risks confronting the community.
The conferences were conducted in partnership with the Ismaili Councils for Canada and the United States, and RDMTs in North America and Australia. As part of the training, each Regional Disaster Management Team assessed potential risks and threats specific to their geographic location.
“Disasters will happen, we just cannot predict when,” said Ghalib Kassam, Regional Disaster Manager for the Western United States. “So the question is not if a disaster will strike, it is when it will strike.”
When a disaster strikes, good planning makes all the difference. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) training sessions — which are ongoing across North America — enabled RDMTs to respond effectively to several disasters in 2009, including the California wildfires, a chemical fire in Texas and an apartment fire in Vancouver.
Learning from experience
Training session led by Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services in Canada. Photo: Michael Kahlenberg
Since its inception in 1994, FOCUS has been an active responder to disasters and emergencies. For instance, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the southern coast of the United States in August 2005, FOCUS volunteers and staff distributed clothes, basic amenities, and toys to young children and families to assist them in rebuilding their lives.
In September 2008, Hurricane Ike devastated the coastal areas of Texas, resulting in an evacuation order for nearly a million people. The Ismaili Council for the USA – South West region, and its local volunteer community-based crisis response team, mobilised human and physical resources to assist evacuees from the hurricane-affected areas.
“Hurricane Ike highlighted the vulnerability of the community,” said Velani. “The community is now interested in knowing more about the safety measures and government assistance programs in the event of such disasters.”
It takes time for the first responders to arrive at the affected area, and often neighbouring communities need to mobilise and provide assistance and relief. Trainers at the Houston and Toronto conferences stressed the importance of community preparedness. A review of CERT training, including fire drills and integral steps for other disaster scenarios was part of the conference.
Building regional capacity to respond
Nooruddin Karsan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of human resources firm Kenexa, leads an interactive training session on leadership development. Photo: Imran Jaffer
A key goal of the training is for RDMs and deputies to transfer their skills and knowledge to their regional teams and build capacity in their respective regions.
For Rahim Ladha, RDMT Deputy for Quebec and the Maritimes, Canada, the event helped bring together various concepts in disaster management and mitigation, technical knowledge on various disasters, and the roles and responsibilities of the government and other organisations. “The discussions behind specific disasters in recent history reinforces the important role of communities in disasters, in particular the critical function of rescuers during the response phase of a severe disaster,” he noted. “Another important take away for me was the fact that disaster management is as much about planning and mitigation as it is about responding to a disaster.”
Participant Rizwan Bhimani, a RDMT member for Southwestern United States spoke of the inspiration and encouragement emanating from the session. “It helped to see the kind of awareness FOCUS is creating. The path ahead is very long and not easy but it is good to see that FOCUS working with the local councils has initiated steps to create lasting impact through its various programs.”
Velani views being part of the RDMT as a unique form of voluntary service; she feels a sense of satisfaction from making a difference in people’s lives. Ladha agrees — serving the community through disaster preparedness and response is part of the ethics of Islam.
Canadian Regional Disaster Managers participate in a classroom discussion on incident management systems and the processes of an effective response during disasters. Photo: Michael Kahlenberg
India: Andhra Pradesh Relief to Development Projects
Source: Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS)
Date: 23 Jul 2010
In August 2009, Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) completed its three year Andhra Pradesh Relief to Development (APR2D) Project which stemmed from the devastating South Asian tsunami of December 2004 that claimed close to 200,000 lives and wiped out homes, livelihoods and infrastructure.
In the wake of the tsunami, Canadians rallied to assist those who had been affected. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and FOCUS Canada mobilized funds to support relief, and created a foundation for the rehabilitation of 15 particularly vulnerable communities in the tsunami-affected area. The APR2D project eventually reached over 4,000 families in 15 affected communities of the Krishna district, helping improve the ability to cope in times of disaster.
The aim of this project was to strengthen the capacities of communities at the local level to prepare, mitigate, prevent and respond to natural and man-made disasters. The project also aimed to reduce vulnerability from health and hygiene risks, establish partnerships with key stakeholders and disseminate knowledge and best practices while enhancing gender equality in the area.
At the core of the project's disaster management and mitigation strategy was the creation of community-based organizations that employed an inclusive, participatory approach to sustainable solutions. These organizations were critical in shaping and implementing initiatives that would best serve the needs of the affected communities.
Several AKDN agencies, including Focus Humanitarian Assistance, Aga Khan Planning and Building Services and Aga Khan Foundation, collaborated on this project, each bringing expertise and experience to bear on the challenges of working in a remote and resource-challenged area.
The positive impact of activities implemented during the APR2D project became evident in the community's response to torrential rains that caused flooding in October 2009. The newly trained community emergency response teams and community-based organizations were activated. Local communities were able to use the new skills and knowledge they had acquired through the trainings and interventions organized by the APR2D project.
A decrease in the community's vulnerability was also observed, owing to the infrastructure developed by the project such as, cyclone shelters, early warning systems, village-based stockpiles and the 5.75 km evacuation road. The two-way, early-warning radio system, for example, was used to create awareness of the disaster in the surrounding villages. Stockpiled items amassed during the APR2D project, including life jackets, life buoys, tents and community cooking containers, were used to aid displaced families.
Mr. Vishwanath Palli Venkateshwarao, an elder of the Zinkapalem village, expressed his appreciation to the DART members for the AKDN agencies' assistance. He thanked them for their help in "constructing a pond which replenished the storm water", and remarked that knowledge and the availability of "very high-frequency (VHF) radios ensured that we had news of the impending flood well in advance. The stockpiles were used to provide food and clothing and the AKDN road has ensured that livelihood activities were not disrupted".
In addition, FOCUS' Disaster Assessment and Response Team (DART) was deployed to conduct an assessment drill of the affected area. The drill provided an opportunity for the DART to gain hands-on experience in conducting assessments as well as provide FOCUS with an evaluation of the impact of the APR2D project. Following the assessment of the area, the DART developed an Emergency Response plan for the affected villages in the Krishna District, which has now been passed onto local organizations for implementation.
FOCUS assists thousands of flood victims in Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan, 12 August 2010 - Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, has launched a relief effort to assist the thousands of people displaced by the recent floods in the Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral regions of northern Pakistan.
FOCUS, with its teams of trained personnel and hundreds of volunteers, supplied food items comprising flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar and tea to the hundreds of families left destitute by the heavy monsoon rains, which have ravaged different parts of Pakistan. In addition to food supplies, non-food items such as tents, tarpaulins and blankets are being supplied to displaced families in Ghizar and Chitral. In its first phase, the assistance has reached over 900 destitute households through the emergency intervention.
"It has been extremely difficult to reach these vulnerable communities," said Khadija Shaban, Chairperson, FOCUS Pakistan. "Almost all infrastructure has been destroyed by the flood and relief activities are hindered," she added. A blockade of the Gilgit-Ghizar road and smaller village link roads hindered relief activities in the rugged region. However, additional tents, blankets, tarpaulin and bedding items have been transported to the region after the government restored the Gilgit-Ghizar link road earlier this month.
As part of the efforts to create resilient communities, FOCUS not only trains local communities in search and rescue operations but also establishes community stockpiles by storing limited quantities of non-food items to help local communities cope with sudden, small scale, disasters locally. Regional stockpiles have also facilitated distribution of relief items.
Flooding of the Indus River and its tributaries due to torrential rains has caused widespread destruction in Azad Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (KP), and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. The United Nations has reported that to date, an estimated 14 million people have been affected by torrential rains and flooding and 6 to 7 million people are in dire need of food aid, clean water and shelter. Over 1,400 lives have been lost, more than 1,600 injured and 2 to 3 million people displaced due to the various rain-related hazards including landslides, floods, mudflows and structural collapse. More floods due to continued rains in upper parts of the country are likely to swell the number of those affected.
Over 20,000 people were displaced in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral due to complete or partial damage of residential buildings. Crop fields, orchards, trees, cattle sheds and other sources of livelihoods have also been heavily damaged or destroyed. FOCUS is in the process of transporting 200 tonnes of relief goods including food, to support 12,000 affected by the flood in these areas in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority.
FOCUS is also working in Chitral’s Booni village, where a large glacier became active due to the heavy rains, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. Following an aerial reconnaissance of the glacier to analyse the situation, FOCUS’ intervention is reaching over 200 families in collaboration with the District administration. While most of the evacuated families are now living with host families, hundreds are staying in tents provided by the government, FOCUS and other organisations.
Also in the country’s Sindh Province, where the Meteorological Department of Pakistan has issued a "red alert" predicting an "imminent extreme flood threat" to the population, FOCUS, working closely with local community organisations, has mobilised its Search and Rescue Team and Community Emergency Response Teams to respond to the emergency situation. FOCUS continues to make public announcements to raise awareness on flood threats and precautionary measures to be implemented by affected communities.
For further information please contact:
Deputy Executive Officer
Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan
Telephone: +92-51 2294024; 2294051
Fax: +92-51 2294036
Member for Communications and Publications
His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Pakistan
Telephone: + 92-21 35861242
Cellular: +92 300 8218592
Pakistan, September 2010 - Focus Humanitarian Assistance has been actively involved in response and relief efforts following continued rains and massive floods affecting various parts of Pakistan. In partnership with various AKDN agencies, access to health care, clean drinking water and sanitation facilities is being provided to displaced people who are in dire need of these efforts.
A family affected by the floods in Upper Chitral receives relief items transported on AKF helicopters. Aga Khan Foundation is providing helicopters to air lift relief items to those who have been cut off due to the road blockades. FOCUS has procured food packages for 15,300 beneficiaries. - Photo: FOCUS Pakistan
The torrential rains have caused damage to infrastructure and property including mosques, community halls, water mills, shops, and irrigation canals in addition to heavy damage to crops and cattle sheds. This picture shows the damage caused to shops in Garam Chashma, a village in Chitral, which were destroyed due to the severe flash floods. - Photo: FOCUS Pakistan
The transportation of food and relief items continues to pose a challenge, due to road inaccessibility and poor weather conditions. Transportation of relief items is also carried out via foot as linkages to villages are inaccessible from the damage caused to roads and major pathways. The blockade of the Karakoram highway has made access to the mountainous regions of Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral difficult, which is home to approximately 2 million people. - Photo: FOCUS Pakistan
Roads and highways have been washed out due to flashfloods caused by the heavy rains that began in early August. Commuters face difficulties crossing an inundated part of the Karokuram Highway near Jaglote village. - Photo: FOCUS Pakistan
The Hunza River, 12 kilometers North of Gligit, overtopping as water from nearby Rahimbad spills in. - Photo: FOCUS Pakistan
Advocacy session on 'Building Partnerships for Disaster Risk Reduction'
KARACHI (January 08, 2011) : An advocacy session on "Building Partnerships for Disaster Risk Reduction" was organised in Islamabad by Focus Humanitarian Assistance (Focus) Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
"By understanding the approaches adopted by the AKDN in Pakistan, I have learned about the strong impact of communities' involvement in the development process. My interactions with and observation of Focus' work has helped me understand how we can build resilient communities, in the wake of frequently occurring natural disasters," said Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed (Retd), Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Pakistan, while addressing the audience in Islamabad.
The NDMA Chairman further said that the Focus draws strength from the support base provided by specialised AKDN agencies, such as the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, Aga Khan Health Services, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. General Nadeem also paid rich tributes to the thousands of volunteers supporting the various AKDN agencies and extended all out support to the Focus and AKDN agencies for future collaborations in terms of disaster risk reduction and response initiatives.
While stating that remarkable progress had been made in the field of disaster response, General Nadeem noted that a 'lot of ground' needed to be covered in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and preparedness. He stressed on the need for broader and meaningful engagement between the state agencies, NGOs and civil society organisations for creating disaster resilient communities.
Nusrat Nasab, Acting Executive Officer - Focus Pakistan gave an overview of the programmes and interventions of the Focus. She appreciated the leading role played by NDMA for helping mainstream DRR activities in Pakistan. She said that with the support of NDMA and other national and international organisations, the Focus had been able to reach out to thousands of disaster affectees in the region.
Director General - Ministry of Environment, Jawed Ali Khan, also addressed the gathering and explained the climate change trends emphasising on the need for adaptation of DRR strategies to reduce human suffering. Representatives from Nespak, NRSP and field offices of the Focus in Chitral and Gilgit also made presentations about their DRR related activities. They also highlighted the need for greater participation of the government, NGOs and civil society organisations for reducing vulnerabilities of the communities through better management of natural resources and capacity development through awareness raising and resource sharing.-PR
FOCUS Pakistan assists in evacuating victims affected by collapse of Karachi’s Lyari Building
The FOCUS Search and Rescue Team is equipped with and trained for light-to-medium search and rescue operations. Photo: FOCUSThe FOCUS Search and Rescue Team is equipped with and trained for light-to-medium search and rescue operations. Photo: FOCUS Karachi, Pakistan, 9 August 2011 - Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, has mobilised members of its Disaster Assessment and Response Team (DART), to assess the damage resulting from the collapse of the Lyari Building and identify rescue and relief needs. Based on the DART’s recommendations, FOCUS Pakistan immediately deployed a team of 15 volunteer rescuers, who are trained and equipped for urban search and rescue operations. In the initial hours of the incident, 15 injured individuals were rescued. To date, 34 bodies have been excavated from the rubble, while more than 16 people are still feared trapped under the debris.
The five-storey Lyari building, collapsed on the morning of 4th August 2011 in Moosa Lane locality of Baghdadi area, Lyari Town in Karachi, trapping more than 50 people under the rubble.
FOCUS Pakistan’s Search and Rescue Team (SART), trained by Rescue and Preparedness in Disasters, the UK representative of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group and IntOps AB, a Swedish consultancy company in crisis management and humanitarian operations, has been working jointly with the Urban Search and Rescue team of the National Disaster Management Authority, since the collapse of the building, using the latest search and rescue equipment to reach the victims.
Commending the efforts of FOCUS, Brigadier Anus Asad of the Army Engineer Corp said that “FOCUS Pakistan’s team has been extremely supportive in the rescue operations”. The SART was also supported by members of the Kharadar area Community Emergency Response Team, established by FOCUS Pakistan as part of its community based disaster risk management programme.
As part of its mandate to help communities build resilience to disasters, FOCUS has developed a professional search and rescue team consisting of 40 members during its 13 years of presence in Pakistan, and has trained over 34,000 local community members in Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Muzaffargarh, Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan to effectively respond to disasters such as the devastating Monsoon floods (2010), Attabad landslide (2010) and the South Asian earthquake (2005).
For further information please contact:
Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan
Telephone: (+92-51) 111-253-254
Fax: (+92-51) 2072551
Aga Khan Development Network
Telephone: (+92 21) 35861242
Fax: (+92 21) 35861272
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) - FOCUS is a crisis response and disaster risk management agency established in Europe, North America and South and Central Asia. It helps vulnerable communities build resilience to natural and man-made disasters and compliments the provision of humanitarian relief principally in the developing world. FOCUS is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of institutions working to improve opportunities and living conditions, for people of all faiths and origins, in specific regions of the developing world. For further information please visit www.akdn.org/focus
Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) - The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of non-denominational development agencies, created by His Highness the Aga Khan, with complementary mandates ranging from health and education to architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development, disaster reduction, the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalisation of historic cities. As a contemporary endeavour of the Ismaili Imamat to realise the social conscience of Islam through institutional action, the AKDN agencies work to improve living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender. Working in the fields of economic, cultural and social development, AKDN aims to provide choices and opportunities to communities so that they can realise and determine their own development. For further information please visit www.akdn.org
Disaster control: Legislation on school safety demanded
Published: October 27, 2011
The Express Tribune
Disaster control: Legislation on school safety demanded
Published: October 27, 2011
The majority of schools in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) are vulnerable to natural disasters due to negligence in site selection, design deficiencies and usage of substandard materials.
This was said by experts during a session on school safety strategy held by G-B Directorate of Education and Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan – an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network on Tuesday.
School Safety Programme Coordinator Zulfiqar Ali said that the safety strategy gave a comprehensive analysis on current safety status of schools in all seven districts of the region and recommends short-term and long-term solutions to ensure greater safety of schools located in the hazard-prone mountainous region. He added that the lawmakers should pass legislation on the issue and give legal status to the strategy after necessary review and consultations.
Disaster Risk Reduction Manager Salman Shah said that the school safety strategy proposes updating and enriching the school curriculum, adding that regular trainings for school community will have far-reaching implications in safety of schools in G-B.
The participants said May 16 should be marked as the Annual School Safety Day.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2011.
Too much detail: ‘In disaster reporting we don’t need to show bodies’
Published: October 29, 2011
KARACHI: In an attempt to educate journalists about reporting dangerous situations, a workshop was organised by Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network.
More than 25 media professionals were instructed on how to write news stories effectively and how to behave during disasters. The workshop was titled, “Media Workshop on Disaster Reporting” and was conducted by Abbas Hussain, the director of Teachers Development Centre and an expert on developmental communication. The session focused on advanced writing skills, techniques for harnessing thoughts to write effectively for both print and electronic media, and the code of conduct for journalists.
Hussain discussed the basics of disaster coverage and emphasised the importance of detail when developing a story. “Taking the views of all stakeholders is vital when reporting disasters,” he said. According to him, hazard identification, damage and risk assessment, strong communication, hazard avoidance measures and creating awareness were the key elements.
“I believe that thoughts are incoherent,” said Hussain, when talking about writing. “There is no such thing as thinking before writing. There is only the intention to write.” He said that thoughts did not bring words to paper but they formed simultaneously while writing.
He told the participants of a technique called “cubing” to help them construct a story. It involves building a topic from six aspects, which are description, analysis, comparison, application, association and argument – either for or against the topic.
“Every reporter has a responsibility to fulfil for both, their agency and also the public,” said the Hussain. “When photographing, the consent of subjects, especially women, is essential.”
He criticised the Pakistani media for displaying unnecessary details, especially the visuals. “When there was an earthquake in Japan not a single body was shown,” he asserted. “But when disaster strikes Pakistan, bodies are shown openly.” He believed that the gory content contributed in generating negative emotions among viewers and readers.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.
AfghanistanNorth-Eastern Region Badakhshan Province Avalanche Incident Report No. 1
Report—UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Download PDF (50.01 KB)This report is produced by OCHA Afghanistan in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It covers the period 6 March 2012.
I. HIGHLIGHTS/KEY PRIORITIES
•An avalanche reportedly killed 33 people in Shaki district of Badakhshan province. Four people were injured, while many more are reported to be missing.
•Access to the remote district is extremely difficult. Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS), an affiliate of the Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN), sent a team from neighboring Tajikistan and is trying to reach the area with emergency shelter assistance.
•Immediate relief needs include search and rescue, emergency medical assistance, food, and emergency shelter
II. Situation Overview
Thirty three people reportedly died as a result of an avalanche that occurred on 3 March 2012 in Dispy village, Shaki district, Badakhshan province, on the Tajikistan border. Local rescue teams from neighboring villages have rescued seven people in Dispy village, which has a population of 206 people. Many more people are feared missing as initial reports indicate that 20 houses were completely destroyed.
Shaki district is very remote with widely scattered settlements. In winter, the district is inaccessible by road and can only be reached via Tajikistan. Information about the avalanche disaster reached the provincial capital Faizabad city only on 6 March.
An emergency response team from FOCUS, based in Tajikistan, is en route to Shaki district with 20 tents, 50 family kits and 100 plastic sheets. However, reaching the affected area in Afghanistan is hampered by border crossing procedures. The district has some contingency stocks in place as part of winter-preparedness and drought response. In particular, WFP had pre-positioned 161 MT food for 945 families in Shaki district while the Department of Agriculture provided food assistance to 500 households in the district.
Focus Human-itarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, organised a seminar in Karachi on Thursday on 'Climate change and its impact'. In the seminar academics and practitioners shared their views and learning about the trend of temperature rise and its impact on the climate of Pakistan, specially the coastal areas.
The focal point of the seminar was a deliberation on the opportunities and challenges posed by climate change and the important role the government can play to minimise the impact of those calamities at national, regional and local levels, says a statement issued here.
Ideas were also discussed about the measures that need to be taken to ensure optimum safety and preparedness for lives and properties of the people living in both the coastal and urban areas. Expert speakers at the seminar were Munir Sheikh, Head of Climatology Section at the Global Change Impact Study Centre, and Dr Khalid Mahmood Malik, Director of National Agro met Center at Pakistan Meteorological Department.
The speakers highlighted different national, regional and international trends vis-à-vis the phenomena of climate change. They maintained that governments and societies across the globe were taking concrete steps to mitigate the potential destructiveness of temperature rise, which was likely to cause an increase in the sea level during the next several decades, glacier melting and change in monsoon trends.
The speakers emphasised on taking strategic steps and measures to protect the over 700 kilometres strong coastal settlements of Pakistan, which includes the city of Karachi and Gwadar, besides several other settlements. The seminar also discussed various strategies for coastal and urban areas in detail with major emphasis on integration of adaptation strategies into programmes aimed at Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Speaking earlier, Chairperson of FOCUS Pakistan, Khadija Jamal Shaban, briefed the participants about FOCUS and its DRR programme undertaken in Pakistan including Sindh and Punjab.
NDMA and FOCUS Pakistan sign MoU to enhance Disaster Risk initiatives in Pakistan
Islamabad (PR): National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan (FOCUS), an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Islamabad Hotel for enhancing Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes at the national level.
Mr. Rana Farooq Saeed, Federal Minister for Climate Change, was the Chief guest at the occasion.
Cal OES signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Aga Khan Development Network
Created on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 20:51
Written by IVN
Sacramento, California - Today, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Aga Khan Development Network Disaster Risk Management Initiative and FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance USA.
This MOU builds on the Agreement of Cooperation entered by the State of California and His Highness the Aga Khan, the Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network in 2009, reaffirming their shared commitment to dedicate human and material resources to confront poverty and collaborate in disaster response and preparedness.
"The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding gives us an opportunity to end 2013 with a great cooperation and to enhance bilateral emergency response," said Mark Ghilarducci, Director of Cal OES. "This gives us an extraordinary opportunity to expand on the efforts of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery and to assure our world can recover from all hazards - natural, man-made, war-caused or any disasters."
Both the State of California and the AKDN have extensive experience in seismic mitigation.Today's signing was an informal agreement between all the signatories to reduce the risk of, and respond to, threats to the public health, safety and welfare of communities at risk and strengthens the commitment to reduce the loss of life and suffering due to emergencies.
"It's a pleasure to renew this relationship with California and we are honored for this partnership because of your expertise in emergency management and disaster mitigation," said Dr. Mahmoud Eboo, President of the Aga Khan Council for the USA. "With your generosity and knowledge, you are helping other parts of the world."
The AKDN partnership with California in 2009 helped introduced the work of quake preparedness drills to different parts in the world, like Pakistan.
"We, at the Governor's Office, are excited at the signing of this MOU in an area that is much needed in the world we live in today - preparedness, emergency management, earthquake safety and intelligent rural and urban planning," said Nancy McFadden, Executive Secretary to California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
In an effort to enhance the role that non-governmental organizations plays in California's ability to respond to and recover from emergencies, Cal OES has worked to incorporate these organizations along with the private sector into the state's disaster response system. As part of these efforts, Cal OES has actively pursued key partnerships with, American Red Cross, Wells Fargo; Bank of America; Time Warner Cable; Walmart Stores, Inc.; Gap, Inc.; California Grocers Association; Target Corporation; Home Depot; California Utilities Emergency Association; and several others.
FOCUS Pakistan responds to flooding in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan
Islamabad 04 August 2015 – Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) has been providing relief to villages in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan, which have been affected by devastating floods resulting from monsoon rains and glacial outbursts.
Flash flooding and debris flow have washed away over 100 villages while disrupting access to roads and bridges and causing damage to property, crops, livestock, communication infrastructure and drinking water supply systems. Over 700 trained volunteers from FOCUS Pakistan’s Search and Rescue, Disaster Assessment Response and Community Emergency Response Teams were immediately mobilised to respond to the emergency. The teams have distributed food items and non-food items including tents, blankets, tarpaulin sheets, family hygiene kits and water purification tabs to 600 families in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The situation is becoming more critical as a number of valleys and villages in Chitral remain inaccessible and continue to be isolated from each other. Major roads remain cut off including Chitral-Booni Mastuj road, Garamchashma-Chitral road, Chitral-Ayun Bumborate road, Booni-Mulkhow and Kosht road and Chitral-Madaklasht road.
“The immediate need is to clear roads and restore access to villages as supplies in the affected areas will run out and winter will soon set in,” warns Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer of FOCUS Pakistan. In the meantime, FOCUS Pakistan plans to provide one month’s food supplies to 70% of the most affected communities in Lower and Upper Chitral. Provisions have also been made to store items at the regional level since small local markets are expected to run out of supplies.
Flash floods and unfavorable weather continue to be a major threat to relief efforts making it difficult to airlift people and distribute supplies and medicine. FOCUS Pakistan’s Community Emergency Response Team is working with local communities and with the FOCUS regional office for early warning and timely response.
During its 15 years presence in the country, FOCUS Pakistan has trained over 36,000 local community volunteers as first responders and has set up over 90 stockpiles to effectively respond to disasters. FOCUS Pakistan is working closely with the Pakistan Army, Government authorities and local administration in coordinating immediate relief efforts. Once the near-term threat is controlled, extensive planning and resources will be required for rehabilitation. As part of the Aga Khan Development Network, FOCUS Pakistan is engaged with affiliated institutions including Aga Khan Health Services, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and Aga Khan Planning and Building Services to alleviate concerns such as health and hygiene issues arising from the aftermath of crises and to plan for longer-term housing and economic rehabilitation.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is a crisis response and disaster risk management agency established in Europe, North America and South and Central Asia. It helps vulnerable communities build resilience to natural and man-made disasters and compliments the provision of humanitarian relief principally in the developing world. FOCUS is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of institutions working to improve opportunities and living conditions, for people of all faiths and origins, in specific regions of the developing world. For further information please visit www.akdn.org/focus
Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) – The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of non-denominational development agencies, created by His Highness the Aga Khan, with complementary mandates ranging from health and education to architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development, disaster reduction, the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalisation of historic cities. As a contemporary endeavour of the Ismaili Imamat to realise the social conscience of Islam through institutional action, the AKDN agencies work to improve living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender. Working in the fields of economic, cultural and social development, AKDN aims to provide choices and opportunities to communities so that they can realise and determine their own development. For further information please visit www.akdn.org
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