DUSHANBE, September 13, 2008, Asia-Plus  -- The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) and Aga Khan Foundation UK (AKF UK) on September 12 signed an agreement to implement the fifth disaster preparedness project under the disaster preparedness mandate (DIPECHO) in Tajikistan, press release issued by FOCUS said.

The project, entitled “Fostering Disaster Resilient Communities in Isolated Mountain Environments” will be implemented by Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) in Tajikistan. This fifth agreement between ECHO and AKF is aimed at supporting strategies to enable local communities and institutions to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to natural disasters.

Through the implementation of disaster preparedness awareness, education and training initiatives, the program enhances a community’s capacity and their mechanisms to cope and respond to natural disasters, thereby increasing their resilience and reducing vulnerability.

Since 2003, through its partnership with ECHO and AKF-UK, FOCUS has implemented comprehensive community-based disaster risk reduction initiatives in more than 250 local communities. It has also provided technical capacity building support to local disaster management institutions.

Focus Humanitarian Assistance is an international disaster management and emergency response agency providing relief and support services during and following natural and man-made disasters, primarily in the developing world. It is established in Europe, North America, Central and South Asia and helps people in need reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid and facilitates their transition to sustainable, self-reliant, long-term development. Since 1997, FOCUS in Tajikistan has responded to over 40 natural disasters and deployed over USD 500,000 for relief to affected communities.

FOCUS is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of institutions working to improve opportunities and living conditions for people of all faiths and origins in specific regions of the developing world.