Pakistan Red Crescent fosters community ownership of risk reduction programmes

Published: 28 December 2016 9:42 CET

By Majda Shabbir, IFRC

At the crack of dawn, Ghulam Haider and several of his neighbours from Gulhatra village in Mansehra District, climb a steep hill to repair a broken pipeline after a landslide damaged their water source. Ghulam and the other community members have been trained by Pakistan Red Crescent as part of an Integrated Community Based Risk Reduction (ICBRR) programme, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Norwegian Red Cross.


Under the programme, two water supply schemes in Mansehra district have been rehabilitated, ensuring access to clean water for about 2,800 people in the community. As Joint Secretary of the Community Based Organisation of his village, which was created with the Red Crescent’s assistance, Ghulam manages the repairs of two of the four-kilometre long pipeline.


“With help from other community members, we usually do the labour work ourselves to maintain the water supply scheme instead of hiring professionals for the job, which proves economical,” Ghulam explains.


For Marina Bibi and the villagers of Takia Bela in Neelum District, living near the river means facing annual flooding and the threat of losing their homes during the monsoon season. Through the programme, the Red Crescent has helped to build an 80-feet-long stone wall as an extension of an existing 500-feet wall that protects the poor, minority community from the surging river.


“My relatives and I used to provide meals for the labourers,” Marina says. “It feels good to be able to help in any small way, and we look forward to the completion of this wall. I spent many sleepless nights with my family, fearing that the overflowing river would wash away our home.”


Apart from encouraging community ownership, the ICBRR programme incorporates disaster risk management, health, water and sanitation and first aid. It also helps to build the capacity of the National Society’s local branches and inspires them to liaise with local stakeholders to build stronger, better-prepared communities in the face of disasters and other hazards.


For Kausar, a shy teenager from Bagh district in the state of Pakistan Administered Kashmir, going to school was once an arduous task. Located on top of a hill, the track leading to her school would become slippery after the rain, and was often dangerous to traverse.


Now, thanks to the programme, the Red Crescent constructed a cemented foot track on the winding paths of her village to enable everyone, especially the children and elderly, to access the school and other facilities around the village. 


The projects, which cost five to ten thousand US Dollars each, cover a range of initiatives such as the construction and rehabilitation of water supply schemes, the construction of a suspension bridge, foot tracks, a stone wall, latrines, the installation of hand pumps and solar pumps, and the rehabilitation of hand pumps and a dispensary.


The three districts have been chosen for the programme based on a set of multi-sectoral criteria, comprising the country’s Human Development Index, health profile, and a listing of prioritised districts by the country’s National Disaster Management Authority. The selection was made after analysing the country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction Policy and Pakistan Red Crescent’s existing infrastructure. The ICBRR programme also gives high priority to the most vulnerable communities, and promotes the integration of gender considerations to ensure that aid reaches even those who are marginalized.