Empowering People, Saving Lives - Abdul Ghafar

Monday 31 August 2015

Abdul Ghafar is a resident of Dima Qushlaq village in Sar-i-pul province. Dima Qushlaq is a highly flood prone village with almost 1000 families, including 500 children.Two years ago this village was badly affected by floods, in which three people were killed and 400 houses were damaged as a result.

Abdul Ghafar is the head of his village’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT),which was established one year ago by Save the Children.

CERTs carry out a range of activities to prepare communities to respond to natural disasters as well as taking a lead in co-ordination if and when a disaster strikes. One preparation activity is organising simulation activities Simulation activities are designed to prepare community members to respond to emergencies and Abdul Ghafar has been helping members of his community to rehearse actions that need to be taken in the event of a natural disaster.

Nearly all Dima Qushlaq village’s men, women and children participated in the simulation activities led by the Community Emergency Response Team, ensuring the international principle of prioritising the most vulnerable and ensuring their

“ The Community Emergency Response Team was established in my village a year ago.The Community Emergency ResponseTeam was established to raise awareness and prepare and rescue our people from natural disasters.Through the Community Emergency ResponseTeam,we support vulnerable people before, during and after natural disasters.

Recently, we organised a simulation activity together with the government authorities.The aim of this exercise was to practice all the steps taken prior, during and after natural disasters.

All the members of the Community Emergency Response Team are from our own community; as a result, they know everyone very well and community members feel comfortable approaching them with their concerns and questions.

Our team consists of 16 members, of which six are female and ten are male. Through the Community Emergency ResponseTeam we have learned of
many basic but important issues. For example, we now know about children’s rights and how to protect them from disasters through determining safe zones and early warning systems.We have also learned some technical skills such as sketching hazard maps for our village and using the hazard maps to identify safe zones during natural disasters.

We are currently in the middle of the flood seasons: a few days ago, we were hit by floods and as a result 20 acres of fertile tomato, melon and wheat fields were completely destroyed.The Community Emergency ResponseTeam and its assessment and planning activities can be effective in reducing such damages in the future, for example by advising the community to plant crops in areas where flooding is likely to be less intense. .”