Tajikistan: Red Crescent responds to worst disaster in over a decade

Published: 10 June 2010 0:00 CET

Giovanni Zambello, International Federation

Torrential rain, snow, avalanches, floods, mudslides, rock flows and landslides: they were all thrown at Tajikistan this spring. All in all, 10 of Tajikistan’s 66 districts were affected and, in terms of casualties, this is Tajikistan’s worst disaster in over a decade.

When torrential rain hit the city of Kulyab and its surrounding districts on 7 May, the Tebalay mudflow channel and the Surkhob and Yakhsu rivers burst their banks. The resulting flash floods were accompanied by torrents of rock and debris, killing 40 people. Another 33 remain missing. In Kulyab alone, some 4,500 people were displaced when their houses were unable to withstand the sheer force of the water and debris.

Houses and infrastructure have been destroyed or seriously damaged, and many people have lost their livelihoods as a result of dead livestock, and the damage to crops and land. The number of people directly affected by the disaster now totals 16,000, with an additional 70,000 people without access to safe drinking water.

The Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan – working with government disaster response teams and REACT partners (Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team) – responded to the disaster in its auxiliary role.

During the first stage of the disaster, the Red Crescent deployed its staff and volunteers to carry out assessments, give first aid and provide affected people with basic relief items. To date, almost 1,000 people have received assistance. At a local level, volunteers and staff were also mobilized, with eight local disaster committees responding to the floods and mudslides.

Thanks to the disaster management centres in the regions of Kulyab and Kurgan-Tjube, the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan was able to effectively respond to the second wave of floods even though they came so soon after the previous crisis. The national disaster response teams comprise 12 trained team members and were among the first on the scene.

“The Kulyab branch’s disaster response team was the first to reach the affected area. The disaster response team from Kurgan-Tjube reached Kulyab after 14 hours. In addition, a disaster response team from the Red Crescent’s headquarters also reached the area very quickly in order to assist with the response operation,” says Mr Alinazarov Davlat, disaster response coordinator with the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan.

The National Society’s first aid and operational points were functioning from the first day of the operation. The work to set up camps for the displaced started on 8 May. Within a week, three tent camps had been established in Kulyab with the capacity to accommodate 4,500 people.

“Within 24 hours of the floods, the Red Crescent team was able to successfully establish a tent camp in Kulyab for 38 families. After 36 hours, another tent camp was set up in the central stadium of Kulyab for 213 families. Three days later, and the number of families in the stadium camp had risen to 634. The management of the camp was handed over to the Red Crescemt team by the government and REACT partners,” explains Mr Davlat.

The national disaster response team played an active role in evacuation and camp management. In order to support the National Society’s camp management capacity, a specialist was deployed from the International Federation’s European regional office to support response teams in management and coordination.

The International Federation also provided financial support to the relief operation with funding from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of 184,879 Swiss francs aimed at helping 200 flood-affected families in Vose, Muminabad, Temurmalik, Baljuvon, Shurabad, Nurek, J. Rumi, Yovon, Jilikul districts and Kulyab city.