The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) in Tajikistan has handed over the emergency shelters the Emergencies Committee under the Government of Tajikistan in Rasht and Fayzobod districts of Rasht Valley (eastern Tajikistan)

According to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) Resident Office in Tajikistan, the shelters were built within the auspices of Integrated Health and Habitat Improvement Project, Phase II (IHHI II), funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Aga Khan Foundation.

The head of the AKAH Emergency Management Department, Mr. Najib Yaminov and Deputy Chairmen of the Emergencies Committee, Colonel Imomali Ibrohimzoda, reportedly signed the handover document and agreed upon the modalities for operation and management of these facilities, as well as joint emergency response and management plan for the district.

Overall,  AKAH built and handed over four emergency shelters in the most hazard-prone areas of Rasht Valley in the frame of IHHI II project.  The areas for construction of these shelters were selected based on the results of the Integrated Habitat Assessment, focusing on those, which are most prone to natural hazards and are part of the priority list of the Emergencies Committee.  Each facility, capacitating over 50 people at once with its multifunctional capacity and fundamental amenities and infrastructure, will enable to address the situation of temporarily displaced people through the provision of interim space, where affected people can have decent lodging and obtain other necessary care, including medical, social and psychological support, following any disasters. The built facilities meet the required standards of emergency humanitarian shelter, as the design and equipment of this facility allow to equally accommodating differently abled people during the disastrous cases.

These shelters can serve displaced people due to natural / climate-induced disasters and will address the immediate humanitarian needs of the crisis-impacted people and families. The facilities are designed and built as per the best practices and national/international standards and equipped with all the necessary supplies for displaced people to have decent living standards and have the ‘home feeling’, which is an important physiological aspect for temporary displaced people at a time of crisis. The facility is also designed to ensure that the immediate needs of most vulnerable groups of people (including people with disabilities, the elderly and women and children) are met. The emergency shelter and its utilities will be easily accessible to all, but also consider women’s privacy for child-care and other needs as well. The project put particular emphasis on making sure that both genders will have equal access to the facility and are able to use it according to their needs. The environmentally and socially appropriate emergency shelters will also indirectly benefit 4819 people (2462 males and 2 357 females), who can live with their families on a temporary basis or longer term, depending on the severity of hazard impact on their dwellings.

These facilities will also serve as a working space for the Emergencies Committee team, used as an emergency shelter during the emergencies and beyond that as training center or for other social needs based on the agreement between the Emergencies Committee and the local government.

The representative of the Emergencies Committee in the Rasht Valley touched upon the importance of having designated facilities in place to accommodate displaced people at a time of emergencies, stating that: “As a result of climate change, the number of natural calamities in the district is increasing every year and could be practically seen almost all four seasons, causing economic losses and huge impact on communities’ lives and their livelihoods. As a result of natural disasters, many people are rendered homeless and many of them are evacuated to safer locations on temporary basis, and it is therefore important to have the designated facilities in place to shelter the displaced people and those who lost their houses, which makes the emergency response timelier and more effective and the community feeling safer. The example of that could be the recent disastrous cases in the Rasht valley, such as an earthquake in 2021, seasonal mudflow and avalanches, because of which many people were left homeless and had to live in temporary tent camps.

The head of the AKAH Emergency Management Department Yaminov stated that AKAH will hold regular trainings on search and rescue, first aid and emergency operations both for emergency management professionals and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), as well as other similar trainings tailored on emergency response and crisis management in these facilities jointly with Emergencies Committee.

The built facilities proved to be one of the most important and core element of effective emergency response and management in remote mountainous areas, which both AKAH and the Emergencies Committee will work on and replicate these practices across other districts and regions as well.  Establishing the emergency shelters form part of the larger AKAH and AKDN resiliency and response strategy, which are mainstreamed to support the government in its emergency response and management efforts in the country, and to manage the impact of disasters that befall the region.

AKAH merges the capabilities of Focus Humanitarian Assistance, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, and AKDN’s Disaster Risk Management Initiative, and the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment.  AKAH works to ensure that poor people live in physical settings that are as safe as possible from the effects of natural disasters; those residents who live in high-risk areas can cope with disasters in terms of preparedness and response; and that these settings provide access to social and financial services that lead to greater opportunity and a better quality of life. AKAH helps communities prepare for the worst, provides immediate relief after disaster strikes; and helps build back better and greener while planning for a better future. AKAH currently operates in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Syria, Pakistan, and India, with plans to expand further in Central Asia and East Africa.

The Swiss Cooperation Office in Tajikistan represents the Government of Switzerland and supervises Swiss-funded projects implemented in Tajikistan.  Two Swiss Federal Agencies are working in the country: the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Switzerland funds projects in the following domains: Water, infrastructure, and climate change; Governance and institution buildings; Employment and economic development. Additionally, the Swiss Cooperation in Tajikistan promotes arts and culture and supports the small project from local organizations.

The Government of Switzerland substantially contributes to the World Bank (WB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the United Nations system.  Those organizations also support Tajikistan.