Equipped to face disasters

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13-year-old Junaid showing siren installed on Disaster Management Committee office at Sharifwala village of Muzaffargarh district

When villagers heard the sound of the siren that night, they rushed to the Disaster Management Committee (DMC) office to find out the reason. There, the concerned citizens were informed that a thief had been seen in the village. They were told to stay alert and be ready to cope with any unpleasant situation that might arise.

“It was 9:00 p.m.  and I was busy irrigating the agricultural land near my home,” remembers Shakeel, 24. “Suddenly, I observed the shadow of a man at some distance. I thought it just an illusion and continued my work. After a moment, I saw a veiled person approaching my village,” he explains, recalling his experience when he saw a thief entering his village.

“I was terrified as thieves normally use weapons to protect themselves. I suddenly rushed to the President of the Disaster Management Committee (DMC) and told him to be alert,” he shares.

Meanwhile, 13-year-old Junaid, who lives in a nearby house, ran to the siren that was mounted on the roof of DMC office. He started blowing the siren to get attention of the all villagers. As he blew the siren, everyone gathered at the DMC office. They were informed and got ready to face the situation.

Junaid lives in Shareefwala village in the District of Muzaffargarh, in an area that was severely affected by devastating flood in 2010. Situated in the middle of two rivers, this district is extremely flood-prone. People have very limited resources and often construct their homes with adobe because they cannot afford concrete. They don’t have any employment options except to adopt the profession of labourer or, if they are lucky, cultivate agricultural land transferred from ancestors. During the 2010 floods, most of people lost their homes and also their livelihood as their crops were washed away.

Seeing the vulnerability of the citizens of this community, World Vision designed a strategy to empower the residents; giving them the ability to cope with any disaster—natural or manmade—making sure that all residents are aware of the methods and precautionary measures that should be adopted during any emergency.

Junaid and all other villagers have received training on disaster risk reduction through World Vision’s Community Resilience Project. This project has been designed to increase community resilience, especially the community’s ability to care for children in times of emergency.

In the meantime, when thief saw hustle and bustle in the village, he quickly ran away without harming any villager or taking anything. This happened first time in the village that all the people responded so quickly that presumably their action stopped a theft and likely saved someone’s livelihood.

“About one year ago, our ox worth Rs.45,000 ($428 USD) was stolen from our home,” remembers Junaid. “This was our only source of income as it was being used for cart,” he recalls.

“We are saved from heavy loss [this time] thanks to World Vision,” Junaid added

 

Junaid comes from a poor family. His father, Fazal Haq, has an oxcart that carries bricks to supply in his village. He earns Rs.300 to 500 ($2.85 to 4.76 USD) per day. Junaid wants to study, but because of his family’s limited resources and large number of dependents, he works with his father instead.  

Thanks to World Vision, both men and women are being trained to face emergencies and disasters. Ms. Zahida is the great example of one such courageous woman who wants to work for the people, especially women, of her community.

 Zahida was able to study through the eighth grade, but she has also completed a religious studies course. She is an active member of the DMC in her village. When she heard the siren that night, she got ready and checked the first-aid box immediately. “I’ve got training on preparedness conducted by World Vision. For me, the most important task during any disaster is to rescue the injured; life is much important rather than protecting houses,” Zahida shares.

 Zahida also has replicated the training among her neighbours.

“Now I know very well how to use first aid box in case of any emergency. It’s all due to World Vision that provided me the chance to work for humanity.” Zahida says

Mr. Allah Yar, President of the DMC is very confidant after receiving World Vision’s disaster risk reduction kit and training. “Before DRR training, I was totally unaware how to evacuate during a flood; that’s why the 2010 flood was so devastating. Now, I have a better understanding about evacuation plans, as we have developed them at our DMC office,” he says.

In addition to plans, Mr. Allah Yar noted that the importance of being able to communicate to everyone quickly. “During any emergency, the most important is information before [the emergency],” he says. “World Vision has provided us radio sets that are a very useful tool for sharing and learning information. During the current monsoon season, the Pakistan Meteorological department predicted heavy rains and we used our radio sets to be updated. Thank you World Vision for helping us.”

World Vision is assisting vulnerable families through providing them trainings and equipment to save themselves from heavy losses. The provision of disaster risk reduction kits includes: a first aid box, a radio set, a tent, a water levelling rod, emergency lights and other necessary items that can prevent people from heavy damages in the event of an emergency, especially children who are often the most vulnerable. 

News Source : Equipped to face disasters

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