Empowering communities to mitigate disaster risks

Nov 28, 2016

In the past decade, Pakistan has experienced a range of natural and human-made disasters, from floods to droughts, and is one of the countries considered most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Sudden climate-related events can wreak havoc on entire communities, damaging agricultural land and putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

Representatives of the Royal Norwegian Embassy and UNDP visited Chitral in November 2016 to see for themselves how communities are being supported to prepare for, and mitigate disasters.

UNDP recognizes that communities themselves are best positioned to identify the specific risks they are vulnerable to, and to prioritize actions and investments in structural- and non-structural adaptation and mitigation. This community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM) is central to disaster risk reduction in Pakistan and is an intrinsic part of the National Disaster Management Plan.

With funding support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, UNDP implemented CBDRM in five districts in three provinces in Pakistan. One of these districts is Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where 24 villages were included in 2016. The CBDRMproject intends to enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities in high-risk districts and reduce losses caused by disasters and climate risks.

UNDP achieved this by mobilizing communities and equipping them with skills in participatory risk assessment. Community members were then helped to engage in the participatory planning and implementation of the risk reduction measures they themselves prioritized. They also developed village disaster risk reduction plans and mobilized volunteers trained in  disaster preparedness. Thus, community members participated in lifesaving preparedness, were linked with district-level early warning systems, and can now use local knowledge to reduce losses if and when disasters do strike.

CBDRM thus builds community capacities to prepare for, cope with, recover from, and build back better after disasters. It draws on, and builds social cohesion amongst community members and empowers women to be agents of change.

In Chitral, 751 people were trained in CBDRM essentials. Forty village disaster management committees were established with 489 members drawn from local communities. In addition to mobilizing communities to protect themselves against disasters, the project also implemented structural mitigation schemes such as dykes and retaining walls, with 20 percent of the cost contributed by community members.

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The Royal Norwegian Embassy delegation comprised Mr. Tom Jorgen Martinussen, First Secretary and Mr. Naufil Naseer, Development Advisor. They were accompanied by UNDP’s team which comprised Mr. Ignacio Artaza, Country Director, Mr. Amanullah Khan, Assistant Country Director, Environment and Climate Change, Mr. Muhi Usamah, Technical Specialist for Disaster Management and Mr. Abduvakkos Abdurrahmanov, Technical Specialist for Climate Change.

Additional links:

Disaster Risk Reduction in Pakistan

UNDP’s CBDRM learning report

For further information please contact:

Mr. Muhi Usamah
DRM Specialist
muhi.usamah@undp.org