A Glimpse in to FOCUS’s Recent Activities:
PAKISTAN: Glacial Lake Outburst Flood Response
On July 17, 2018, Badswat and Bilhanz villages in Immit Valley of Ghizer District in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan were hit by a glacial lake outburst flood, which led to the formation of an artificial lake. Over 40 houses were damaged and road access for around 10 villages was blocked from the rest of the Immit Valley.
Food and non-food items, including medicines, tarpaulins and tents were provided to affected villages on an emergency basis.
Due to FOCUS’ ongoing awareness on disaster risk mitigation and the early mobilization of local Community Emergency Response Teams, around 1,000 people were evacuated to safer areas prior to the disaster. No lives were lost.
SYRIA: Flood Response
Over the years, several areas in Syria have been subject to man-made and natural disasters. On June 13th, 2018, heavy rains resulted in major flooding in north-eastern Salamieh District. While fortunately there were no casualties, up to 60 residential homes were affected, including 25 homes with substantial structural and property damage, some of which collapsed and /or were swept away. Food baskets were provided to affected families from prepositioned stockpiles in Salamieh City.
Community Emergency Response Teams trained in First Aid and Casualty Transport were mobilized to sweep water, clear debris and remove heavy objects preventing water flow and drainage. FOCUS supports the local community in emergency preparedness, response and management activities including trainings, simulations, and equipment in order to provide life-saving interventions.
AFGHANISTAN: Protecting communities
FOCUS supports innovative ways to protect communities at risk of disasters, including improving the safety of physical settings through hazard mapping and structural mitigation projects.
In Puli Khumri, Baghlan Province, Afghanistan, two mitigation projects were completed in November 2017 to protect 3,500 individuals / 600 households who live in areas prone to debris flows.
One of the projects was the implementation of Quli Qasabi gabion walls, terracing and dams. In May 2018, heavy rainfall led to flooding that severely affected Quli Qasabi. The mitigation projects ensured that communities were protected, lives and assets were saved, and no houses were damaged.
PAKISTAN: Mitigating the potential threat of Khurdopin glacier
Khurdopin is a glacier located 3,660 metres in the Karakoram mountain range in Shimshal Valley, northern Pakistan. The increasing temperatures and precipitation can trigger glacial lake outburst floods, which could cause loss of life and damage to property. Khurdopin is in a state of ‘surge’, blocking the Shimshal River, which has resulted in the creation of a temporary lake. The situation is a threat to the communities living downstream because the length of the lake is increasing and the water inflow is blocked by the adjacent glacier – it was at around 700 metres in November, 2017 and increased to 1,500 metres in January, 2018.
Zeenat, a participant explained, “The capacity building programs at the community level have allowed us to learn about hazards and the immediate steps one needs to take as first responders. We now feel that women and children in our village are much safer than they were a few years ago.”
FOCUS’ team of experts and geologists have formed a glacier monitoring team at the community level responsible for monitoring Khurdopin glacier on a monthly basis and sharing findings with subject matter experts. To enhance the system for early warning, FOCUS installed a weather monitoring post in Shimshal Valley to closely monitor weather conditions and alert villagers to evacuate in case of an anticipated disaster.
AFGHANISTAN: Building Mitigation Projects to Improve Safety, Afghanistan
Atah Mohammad, 64 years old, has lived in the village of Bahar Bazaar in the remote mountains of Ishkashim and Badakshan, since a young child. Mohammad notes that, “in recent years, as I have grown older, the climate and nature are changing bringing more unpredictable events, especially water rising (floods)”. In 2017, FOCUS conducted a hazard vulnerability risk assessment and as a priority built a 50 metre retaining wall and conducted a mitigation project to clear the debris flow channel. These initiatives will help minimize the impact of potential hazards on villagers.