As institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network and Ismaili communities around the world join in the 2015 international ShakeOut earthquake drill, Focus Humanitarian Assistance is placing special emphasis on disaster preparedness to save lives and limit the impact of calamity.

“We must be prepared,” says Shakeel Hirji. “From having insurance to preparing an emergency kit and a family emergency plan,” preparedness helps save lives and limit the impact of disasters when they occur, notes the FOCUS Global Coordinator. “We should also be aware of the risks and hazards prone to the environments in which we live.”

And the risks abound. No country is spared from natural hazards like earthquakes, flooding, and extreme weather. By working closely with communities where the Jamat is established, FOCUS helps to prepare, prevent and mitigate against disasters, and build resilience in their wake.

The ShakeOut global earthquake drill is one example. AKDN has been participating in the drill since 2011 — an initiative that emerged from its collaboration with California's Office of Emergency Services under the Agreement of Cooperation between the Ismaili Imamat and the State of California.

FOCUS manages the AKDN ShakeOut drill, which took place in 20 countries and 1 611 facilities in 2014. More than 300 000 people, including AKDN staff, volunteers, students, organisations, community members, men and women participated in the drill last year.

The Drop, Cover and Hold On! method provides simple yet effective steps that can save lives and reduce injury in the event of an earthquake.

How can you prepare for emergencies?

  • Have a family emergency plan that designates a common meeting place and an out-of-province contact person that each member of your family knows to get in touch with. The plan should also include what your family will do if phones don't work, and if your home, school or workplace neighbourhoods aren't accessible.
  • Prepare a family emergency kit with basic supplies that will allow you to take care of your family for at least 72 hours. The kit should include water, non-perishable food and a battery operated flashlight and radio.
  • Check your insurance coverage and discuss insuring against hazards that may affect the area where you live, such as earthquakes, flooding and climate-induced disasters. Having insurance can help your family to financially recover from loss of property.