EU-UNDP BOMNAF and JICA-BMP projects recently implemented a joint disaster risk management training programme in Badakhshan for border police officers and civilians on both the Tajikistan and Afghanistan sides of the international border. This activity was conducted at the Nusai-Ruzvai border crossing point (BCP) where the appropriately named Friendship Bridge spans the Panj River, the border between Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) and Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province. Tajik and Afghan border agencies’ staff from the neighbouring BCPs of Khumroghi (Tajikistan) and Djomarji Bolo (Afghanistan) also took part at the training.
Although the BCP is adjacent to Kalai Khumb, administrative capital of Darvoz District, the combination of remote location, tectonic characteristics and natural conditions means the population is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters that include avalanches, earthquakes, floods and landslides.
Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns leading to unexpected snow melts, rains and fluctuating temperatures have exacerbated the situation, particularly during annual thaws. As nature doesn’t recognize political borders, the close proximity of respective Tajik and Afghan populations will necessitate cross-border cooperation in the face of any large scale disaster.
Training was attended by personnel likely to be mobilized to assist, rescue or evacuate potential victims. Twenty members of the Afghanistan Border Police (ABP), eighteen Tajikistan Border Force (TBF) officers and fifteen local Afghan community leaders were brought together for this three-day course. It is planned that encouraging contact between both sides of the Panj will enhance cooperation, both when natural disasters occur, as well as during the routine course of day to day border management.
Training covered several different aspects of Disaster Risk Management (DRM), focusing primarily around mitigation measures to be used in preparation for any natural disaster responses. Practical applications of this topic included steps taken to formulate plans for response and rescue of affected populations. Participants discussed at length appropriate responses in the aftermath of natural disasters, focusing on events especially common to their area, such as earthquakes and landslides.
Raising awareness of how to react to natural disasters for people in remote villages in these difficult to reach borderlands regions is critical, as emergency response teams can face serious logistical difficulties, delays and obstacles when deployed to such far flung areas. A large quantity of pictographic posters, outlining clear instructions for natural disaster response were given to participants for distribution in their communities as quick reference guides.
Upon receiving an earthquake and avalanche specific set of posters, one Afghan replied, “Great! One for the mosque and one for the school!”, - noted DRM expert, Dr Alisho Shomahmadov, who has extensive emergency response experience in remote areas of Tajikistan, worked with EU-BOMNAF staff to deliver this practical, tried and proven training.
UNDP’s Project Manager, Mr William Lawrence, stated that, “increased vulnerability to natural disasters as a result of changing, and therefore unpredictable weather patterns make training such as this ever more vital in this region, where recent fighting in the north of Afghanistan also impacts on the situation, making it more difficult for international agencies to bring such education to these areas. As a cooperative event, this has been a great success. Borderlands communities are often self-sufficient in many ways and it has been our privilege to bring communities from both sides to be educated together about being prepared for what might happen tomorrow, or without warning, at any time. Border officers from both sides have enthusiastically grasped this opportunity to meet each other, in the field and on the ground where they may one day have to work together to mitigate the effects of an earthquake or other natural disaster.”
For further details, please contact William LAWRENCE, BOMNAF Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org