Tajikistan, February 2019 – Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), a region highly vulnerable to natural hazards, has a long history of being negatively impacted by the effects of disasters. Avalanche is among many other hazards that causes catastrophic accidents often leading to fatal consequences and leaving large segment of the population without shelter and means of survival in this mountainous area.  Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) in Tajikistan established 143 Avalanche Preparedness Teams (AVPT) in the region who work with Tajikistan’s Committee of Emergency Situation and Civil Defense (CoES) and rescue teams (SART and CERT) to address challenges, provide safety, and build resilient communities.1

In December 2018 and January 2019, heavy snowfalls created a significant havoc across Tajikistan.  AVPT along with SART and CERT deployed emergency response and evacuated more than 5,000 people living in avalanche prone areas.  Precautionary measures of safety and avalanche preparedness taken by AVPT helped reduce the number of lives lost in the region.  AVPT volunteers were dispatched to lead search and recovery efforts to locate missing persons in hazardous conditions.

AKAH, in collaboration with CoES, works to strengthen AVPTs capacity building through various indoor and outdoor trainings.  This enables the community to be ready for any avalanche related emergencies and prevent the loss of lives.

1 Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) was established in 2016.  AKAH brings together resources of different AKDN agencies including FOCUS, the entity that helps mitigate risk and impact from natural disasters. FOCUS continues to provide financial support for AKAH’s efforts in responding to natural disasters.