In the aftermath of Cyclone Tauktae that struck Gujarat on 17 May 2021, a professional and volunteers dispatched from AKAH discuss rebuilding plans with a community member whose home was damaged.
AKDN / Alinawaz Nanjee
In the aftermath of Cyclone Tauktae that struck Gujarat on 17 May 2021, a professional and volunteers dispatch...
AKDN / Alinawaz Nanjee
AKAH’s school and hostel safety programmes have reached over 50,000 students and staff
AKAH implements community-based disaster risk management activities to help prepare communities residing in high-risk zones to be aware of and effectively respond to natural hazards. Each project takes into account the cultural nuances of the areas in which we work.
AKAH facilitates the development of crisis management plans, at the local and regional level, that cater specifically to vulnerable communities. We are working with more than 300 at-risk communities across Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana through a participatory process. Together, we are developing plans that integrate critical prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response elements.
These communities live in areas highly vulnerable to natural hazards including earthquakes, cyclones, floods and heatwaves. The plans are informed by hazard, vulnerability and risk assessments (HVRAs). We have completed these for each settlement, combining local knowledge with scientific analysis and updating them every three years. Using these HVRAs, we have developed a robust Geographic Information System (GIS) that helps capture, manipulate, store, analyse, manage and present all types of geographical data for disaster management. We ensure that remote communities have multiple modes of communication, installing satellite phones and emergency communications systems to ensure redundancy. Through our Family Emergency Preparedness Plan (FEPP) project, we have also increased awareness about hazards and vulnerability at the family level and assisted in the development of personalised family disaster management plans. At the national level, we are working with the National Disaster Management Authority of India to support the National Seismic Risk Mitigation Programme. We have also collaborated with the National Institute of Disaster Management for knowledge sharing and capacity building.
To build local preparedness and response capacity, AKAH India maintains a community-based volunteer network of specialised teams including a Disaster Assessment and Response Team (DART), an internationally accredited Search and Rescue Team (SART), Disaster Management Deputies and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs). We currently have a network of nearly 2,000 active volunteers trained in basic community-based disaster risk reduction techniques such as first aid, fire fighting, and search and rescue; 40 percent of these volunteers are women. Our search and rescue team, which has 32 members across India, was trained by RAPID-UK and the National Civil Defense College as per the International Search and Rescue Guidelines. It is a team of Master Trainers who train other volunteers from the community. The team is also equipped with personal protective equipment to ensure quick and safe deployment.
Working with this network of trained, local emergency response volunteers, we implement a disaster awareness programme to educate communities about disaster risk, their Village Disaster Management Plans, and preparedness and response measures. We also conduct annual tabletop exercises with volunteers and community leaders. These simulate emergency situations in an informal, controlled environment to test and update Disaster Management Plans. We also conduct large-scale disaster simulation exercises in coordination with local authorities to build community and institutional response capacity. To ensure the rapid availability of relief supplies and equipment, AKAH has also set up village-level and regional stockpiles, managed by community volunteers.