"I am very grateful that such a project has started because now we are able to help ourselves and others. Before, we didn’t know how to prepare for an earthquake or how to behave if one happens," says Ismoil Abdullayev, who lives in Guliston mahalla.
"After the training, I assessed my house and found the most dangerous places if an earthquake were to strike. I moved my son’s bed away from a window and moved the wardrobe so that even if it falls the exit will not be closed," said Farida Muhametova, from Bahor mahalla.
Since February, 28 people from the target mahallas have been trained on basic disaster awareness and first aid. With assistance from World Vision staff, those who were trained are now conducting instruction series in the mahallas to raise awareness, help families protect their homes from being damaged by earthquakes, and create voluntary rescue teams. In addition, mahalla heads and activists are forming Mahalla Emergency Committees to develop and implement Preparedness Plans.
"In order to reduce the impact of disasters we have to prepare the families that would be most affected. Also, neighbors and the community play a crucial role in helping people in emergency situations," says Hannes Reuter, the project manager.
In 1996 experts predicted the impact of a magnitude 6 earthquake on the city’s population, in the absence of mitigation efforts, could lead to 45,000 deaths and 180,000 serious injuries.
In 1966, a 5.3 earthquake struck Tashkent, leaving nearly 80,000 families (more than 300,000 people) without shelter. Nine people died. At that time the population of Tashkent was less than half the size it is today, and most houses were single storied, enabling an easy escape. Today Tashkent has one of the highest populations of cities in Central Asia, and many homes are multi-storied and supplied with natural gas and electricity, increasing the potential devastating consequences of an earthquake.
The Tashkent Disaster Risk Reduction Project is funded by World Vision Germany and the Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission (ECHO).