Saving lives and livelihoods through the power of knowledge

Construction of a channel to reduce the risk of underground flooding © Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) - USA


Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (region) (GBAO) is an isolated mountain area in eastern Tajikistan, the poorest of all the former Soviet Republics. It often takes days or weeks for disaster assistance and relief to reach local communities in the area. In the event of a mudslide, affected families lose their income, as the breadwinner has to stop working in order to repair the family home. Households are then unable to replace their losses. Lack of support for full disaster recovery forces many of them into a cycle of poverty. To help address the issue, Focus Humanitarian Assistance USA and the Aga Khan Foundation UK developed a Risk Management Strategic Approach in 2003. This is an objective knowledge-based approach that prioritizes those most at risk and seeks to understand the nature and extent of their risks.

To effectively and measurably reduce risk, and build coping capacity, it is necessary to identify risk levels clearly. FOCUS’ approach applies a community and knowledge-based hazard, vulnerability and capacity risk assessment (HVCRA) methodology that enables communities, scientists and disaster managers to clearly understand what risks communities are facing, the levels of those risks, and how to mitigate those levels to an acceptable level.

The approach has helped achieve two integral successes:

The above successes were achieved through a strong enabling environment for all actors involved, which makes the initiative a model Public-Private-Community partnership. Other key success factors include:

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