With support from the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) has implemented a disaster reduction project in four governorates in collaboration with the French Red Cross and the Swedish Cross.
The objective of the above – mentioned project is to assist local communities in developing their understanding of disaster risk factors and the procedures that can reduce their vulnerability, adding to strengthen the capabilities of the IRCS`teams, increase their level of knowledge and awareness, and improve their preparedness to address and reduce disaster risks.
According to the Director of the structure and rehabilitation department of the IRCS, Mr. Nawar Abdel Qader, ‘’the project targeted four governorates (Sulaymaniyah, Wasit, Babil, and Maysan) because they are the most susceptible to natural disasters based on a twenty-year historical overview of Iraq.
Nawar has continued, “The project was initially launched at the start of 2021 in response to the Corona pandemic, when 4,000 health kits were distributed to families affected by (Covid 19) in coordination with the Ministry of Health, in addition to the distribution of leaflets and awareness folders and direct meetings with various segments of local community in order to introduce the risks posed by (Covid 19).
Nawar has also said that the purpose of the project is to prepare the local community to face disasters and reduce their ramifications, adding to provide appropriate information on how to avoid the dangers coming from disasters.
In recent years, Iraq has become more susceptible to the risks of natural disasters as a result of severe environmental deterioration and disregard for environmental preservation, and faces many challenges posed by climate change, including high temperatures, lack of rain, water scarcity, salinity of the earth, and an increase in the proportion of sand and dust storms and earthquakes that have resulted in numerous human deaths, as well as the problems posed by disasters to sustainable development and the high poverty and migration rates.
Mr. Muhammad al-Moussawi (one of the project’s trainers) stated, “The project had two phases, in the first phase, specialist teams associated with the Iraqi Red Crescent were trained to identify weaknesses and strengths in the targeted areas, and an emergency response team of twenty individuals were formed, they are trained on relieving the urgent cases, health care, first aid, psychosocial support, emergency camp management, and awareness of war remnants, as well as specialized equipment for disaster response were provided, in the second phase, a local response team was formed from the same community, they were trained on evacuation and rescue methods, also dealing with the risks of fires and earthquakes, and participated in their training in cooperation with many competent authorities, such as civil defense, health, seismic monitoring and weather forecasting, also how to communicate with each other in emergency situations.
The above mentioned project was accompanied by awareness campaigns about the dangers of disasters that already exist and ways to deal with them, and advertising campaigns through social media, and other community campaigns through home visits and interviews with residents, the project plan was also tested through a complex simulation exercise that matches the reality when the disaster occurred, in which many competent authorities and government institutions, such as civil defense, health departments, transport and communications, and the crisis cell in each governorate participated.