Mosque Over Monsoon
Imdad lives in Mutabar Kuroona, a village in the District Charsadda, north of Peshawar. Almost all residents earn their livelihoods by farming.
The waters of Kabul feed the crops that Imdad and his neighbors grow. The river is their life line. But every year when monsoons strike the region, the rising waters overrun the village.
Recurring floods are the bane of Mutabar Kuroona. The rains not only destroy crops but damage houses. The absence of an early warning system and disaster management compound the miseries of the local population.
But this year, thanks to the International Rescue Committee’s Disaster Preparedness Project, Imdad and his fellow villagers were better prepared to cope with the floods. “Last year,” he recalls, “I felt helpless in the face of rushing flood water and saw my village inundated. Now, due to my training with IRC, I know how to monitor rising water levels and when to inform the community so that we can take necessary measures.”
Establishing an early and effective warning system is an important goal of the Disaster Preparedness Project. The IRC paid special attention to local knowledge and traditional institutional structures in order to make the project effective. For example, the village mosque, with its central location and loud speakers, was used to make announcements for early evacuation of the village.
“One day, when I noticed that the water level was increasing at a great pace, I sensed danger and ran towards the village to warn the people,” explains Imdad, who is chairman of the Emergency Management Committee. “I remembered the drill that I learned in training sessions and went straight to the mosque and made announcement on the loud speaker.” As a result, more than one thousand households were able to rescue their belongs.
The project, funded by European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and Stichting Vluchteling (SV), continues to increase the capacity of the community as well as the local authorities to manage disasters and minimize damages. Imdad along with other villagers have been trained in construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of water and sanitation facilities and educated about health and hygiene.
The IRC has also established a water testing laboratory in nearby Charsadda, the first ever in the district, scheduled to be handed over to local authorities at the end of the project.