In Singal, Pakistan, a village that had been destroyed by flash floods in the past, the Aga Khan Agency for …

AKDN / Christopher Wilton Steer


In high altitude areas of Pakistan, AKAH holds simulation exercises with specialist partner organisations to …



Immediately after the disaster in July 2018, AKAH Pakistan's trained Disaster Assessment Response Team …



If the river in the village of Gharbochung, Pakistan rises by a certain percentage due to an imminent flash …

AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer

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Pakistan | Disaster Preparedness and Response



AKAH has produced hazard and risk maps for 828 villages in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral


In 2009, our global DRR work was acknowledged by the Jury of the United Nation’s (UN) Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction and awarded the Certificate of Merit for enhancing disaster risk reduction in Pakistan. In 2020 our work using hazard, vulnerability and risk assessments for disaster risk management and sustainable habitat planning and development was awarded the World Habitat Gold Awards. Read the press release

Our programmatic areas include:

  • disaster risk reduction;

  • climate change adaptation; and

  • emergency humanitarian response and relief.

A man stands amid small trees checking a flood warning system.

In Gilgit-Baltistan, a volunteer caretaker checks the Flood Early Warning System installed by AKAH.


Structural and Non-structural Disaster Mitigation

We have completed 106 structural mitigation projects since 2005. These include construction of protective walls to shield against a variety of hazards such as floods and debris flows in disaster-prone areas across northern Pakistan.

Non-structural mitigation projects include:

  • training local community-based volunteers as first responders;

  • using specialised plantations for soil stabilisation;

  • deployment of early warning systems;

  • landslide monitoring; and

  • removing boulders through controlled blasting.

We construct protective infrastructure to prevent hydrometeorological hazards. These include:

  • gabion walls, shielding against hazards such as floods and debris flows;

  • avalanche impact tripods, which help deflect and slow down avalanches; and

  • check dams to counter erosion.

Community-Based Disaster Risk Management

Informed and organised communities are more resilient and better prepared to cope with risk and disasters. Community-based disaster risk management builds upon local knowledge with technical skills that enable and empower communities to cope with, prepare for, prevent, mitigate, respond to and quickly recover from natural and man-made disasters in urban and rural areas. We involve community members in identifying and understanding local hazards. We build their skills in first aid, search and rescue, fire safety, safe evacuation and village-based disaster risk management planning.

Community volunteers trained by AKAH are aware of their local hazards and can be first responders in disaster situations. The role of these community emergency response teams (CERTs) is critical, particularly in communities located in risk-prone mountainous and isolated locations. Over the years, AKAH has established 192 structured CERTs across Pakistan and has trained over 36,000 community volunteers (over 50 percent women) as first responders. We provide emergency stockpiles for communities, with items such as tents, blankets, search tools and first aid supplies, to strengthen local response capacities. AKAH also supported the Government of Pakistan to prepare the country’s National Disaster Management Plan and Community-Based Disaster Risk Management guidelines (2012).

School Safety Programme

AKAH’s School Safety Programme, initiated in 2006, builds the capacity of students, parents and school management to assess hazards to their schools, develop emergency and evacuation plans, and build response capacity.

We organised an international conference on school safety in 2008. In collaboration with the Government of Pakistan, various donor and UN agencies, and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), we provided technical and financial input to develop a School Safety Strategy for the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan. The conference also marked the declaration of 16 May as the annual National School Safety Day. AKAH continues to run school safety initiatives across the country in partnership with respective governments, UN agencies and INGOs.

Together with our donors and partners, we have reached over 931 schools across Pakistan through our school safety programme, benefitting over 427,300 students, teachers and parents.

Initiatives include:

  • A pilot project where we developed a school safety manual with support from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and National Disaster Management Authority Pakistan.

  • A school safety programme with PLAN International, implemented at 400 primary schools for girls in Pakistan.

  • A project to improve DRR practices in over 100 schools in Gilgit-Baltistan with support from the Australian Agency for International Development. With technical assistance from the National Society for Earthquake Technology Nepal and Aga Khan Education Service Pakistan, local villagers were trained in stone masonry to retrofit a school in Nomal village, Gilgit.

  • A project with the WFP to improve safety in 120 schools in six disaster-prone districts across Pakistan. Community leaders and school safety committees were trained in developing Village-Based Disaster Risk Management Plans and School Safety Plans. We worked with the schools and local communities to develop plans, train teachers and first responders, implement drills, and distribute school safety and emergency response kits. We also retrofitted 16 schools.

  • Implementation of the Pakistan School Safety Framework in all schools in Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar and Muzzafarabad, in partnership with the British Council and the National Disaster Management Authority. Our objectives are to capitalise on the role of schools as agents for students’ development, to create a safe learning environment for students and to improve the knowledge and skills of school children and government authorities to deal with disasters.

Volunteers learn first response skills and techniques during training sessions organised by AKAH.

Volunteers learn first response skills and techniques during training sessions organised by AKAH.  


Emergency Humanitarian Response and Relief

Our disaster response programme is divided into two components: i) search and rescue operations immediately after disasters, and ii) humanitarian relief, including provision of food and non-food aid, and shelter and camp management for those affected by disaster internally or for refugees. AKAH is one of the leading and most experienced disaster response agencies in Pakistan.

Search and Rescue

AKAH Pakistan has a 50-member specialised search and rescue team (SART). Members are located in Gilgit, Chitral and Karachi. They have been trained by the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue Team, IntOps AB Sweden and Pompiers de l'Urgence Internationale, a group of French firefighters in urban and mountain search and rescue. The team is equipped to conduct search and rescue across the country. SART members are trained on a monthly basis. They are all dedicated volunteers, 35 percent of whom are women.

Humanitarian Relief

Following a disaster, we immediately deploy our volunteer Disaster Assessment and Response Teams (DARTs). The teams are trained based on the standards of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to determine the immediate basic humanitarian needs after a disaster. Based on the DART reports, food, non-food aid and shelter are provided to those affected by the disaster, with support from and in collaboration with government authorities, donors, UN agencies and INGOs.

Significant Response Activities

  • Afghan Refugee Programme: The Afghan Refugee programme was initiated in 1998 and benefitted over 43,000 Afghan nationals over eight years. The refugees were hosted in various camps and later repatriated to Afghanistan in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

  • Astor Earthquake, 2002: Astor was hit by an earthquake which resulted in the loss of many lives and destruction of property. In response, AKAH provided food and non-food aid to over 100 households (1,000 individuals) that were directly affected.

  • Kashmir Earthquake, 2005: Following the devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake that shook Kashmir, we immediately engaged our SARTs from Gilgit and Chitral. Coordinating our relief efforts with the Pakistan Army and with the support of AKDN helicopters, we provided approximately 150,000 affected individuals with food, safe drinking water, clothing, shelter, blankets, vital medicine and toys for the young. In addition, the Aga Khan University established a mobile hospital in Kashmir. The emergency response project was phased out with the inception of an AKDN rehabilitation and recovery project in Chakama, Kashmir.

  • Snow Avalanche Response District Ghizer, 2005: Ghizer District in Gilgit-Baltistan was impacted by heavy snowfall and a series of avalanches leaving much of the population stranded. In collaboration with the WFP, we provided food to over 1,500 households, approximately 15,000 people.

  • Snowfall and Avalanche Response Chitral, 2007: Chitral was hit by consecutive snow avalanches. We provided food and non-food relief for over 6,000 people in 28 villages.

  • Baluchistan Earthquake Response, 2008: Baluchistan was shaken by a massive earthquake in October. AKAH provided food and non-food items to over 2,000 households comprising 14,000 individuals across three districts of Baluchistan.

  • Attabad Landslide Response, 2010: AKAH emergency response teams responded to the devastating landslide that struck the Attabad region of the Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan. In collaboration with the Aga Khan Council for Pakistan, AKDN agencies, local government and the Pakistan army, we gave food and non-food aid to 28,000 people, assisted with evacuation efforts and managed camps for the internally displaced.

  • Monsoon Flood Response, 2010: AKAH, working with AKDN agencies and other civil society organisations, launched a relief effort to assist the thousands of people displaced by the devastating floods in Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces. With assistance from thousands of trained volunteers and support from the community, we supported the safe evacuation of vulnerable communities, construction of bridges and roads, as well as camp management. We supplied food and non-food aid to approximately 30,000 households (270,000 people) with support from the WFP in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. In addition, non-food aid was distributed to around 8,000 households in Sindh through the Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance.

  • Earthquake Response in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, 2015: A massive earthquake struck Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan on 26 October 2015, affecting 168 villages and damaging over 8,000 houses. AKAH responded to this disaster by mobilising trained CERTs to evacuate people and provide immediate humanitarian relief. Emergency Operation Centres were established for coordination between AKDN agencies and government departments. Approximately 2,300 households (20,700 people) were given food and non-food relief. In addition, 3,300 families were provided with food aid, with support from the WFP.

  • Flash Flood Response in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, 2015: The flash floods in this area impacted access to roads, destroyed infrastructure and completely damaged over 1,800 homes, leaving approximately 15,000 people homeless. AKAH deployed over 1,500 emergency response volunteers, including CERTS, SARTs and DARTs. Rapid assessments of the disaster-affected area were conducted and shared with all stakeholders. About 3,300 households (29,700 individuals) were provided with food for three months. Over 1,000 households were provided with shelter kits. Two AKDN helicopters were deployed for emergency relief operations and the evacuation of people requiring medical attention and assisting the stranded.

  • Avalanche, Floods and Landslides, 2016: Heavy rain and snowfall that continued for 48 hours brought life to a standstill in parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. It triggered a series of snow avalanches, unusual flash floods and landslides damaging 600 houses, with thousands of other homes reporting roof leaks. We deployed DART to conduct rapid assessments, working with local communities. Over 100 affected households were given tents and blankets from community stockpiles set up by AKAH. Over 50 households in Oshikhandas and Sherqilla were given water purification sachets.

  • Glacial Lake Outburst Flood, 2017: We provided emergency relief to 30 families in Badswat along with shelter to displaced people.

  • Shishper Glacier, 2018: We monitored and mapped the glacier, installed an early warning system and developed mitigation infrastructure.

  • Building Collapses in Jafar Tayar and Gollimar, 2019-20: Our teams led lengthy rescue operations.