Afghanistan: Earthquake - DREF Final Report (MDRAF003)

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster Around 13:40 local time (UTC +4:30) on 26 October 2015, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck Badakhshan province in the north-east region of Afghanistan. Badakhshan, Nangarhar, Baghlan and Kunar provinces were ranked the most affected provinces. The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) coordinated the initial assessments in partnership with in-country humanitarian partners.

Assessment reports indicated 117 deaths, 544 people injured, 12,794 homes damaged and 7,384 houses destroyed. In Badakhshan province alone, more than 51,000 people were affected. The province also reported to have the most extensive damages to properties. Kunar and Nangarhar provinces were recorded to have the highest number of deaths and casualties as a result of the earthquake. Food and non-food items (NFIs), emergency shelter, and psychosocial support services were identified to be among the immediate needs. As the country moved into winter season, winterization materials were being prioritized in the response plan. Access to the affected populationremained the most significant challenge in delivering humanitarian assistance in a timely and effective manner. With the support of the government, roads were cleared to pave way for humanitarian actors to reach the earthquake affected communities with search and rescue, first aid and emergency assistance.

Summary of response

Overview of Host National Society ARCS initiated its response immediately after the earthquake struck to address the immediate needs. The National Society (NS) regional branches were at the forefront of the response and worked with Disaster Response Units (DRU). ARCS staff and volunteers were deployed promptly to support rescue efforts, provide first aid to the injured and distribute immediate relief supplies to affected people alongside undertaking initial assessments. A total of 900 volunteers were mobilised to support this response operation. ARCS also supported to transport critically injured people to hospital and mobilized community members for voluntary non-remunerated blood donations.

A DREF allocation of CHF 465,684 was approved on 3 November 2015. The DREF operation was originally aimed to meet the immediate needs of 2,000 families (14,000 people) most affected by the earthquake for a period of 3 months, through provision of NFIs, winter clothing, emergency shelter and psychosocial support services. It also covered support for mobilizing DRU, staff and volunteers for assessments, distributions and monitoring. Thus far, ARCS with support from Movement partners have distributed NFIs to 1,824 families. This operation focused on the geographical areas of Badakhshan, Baghlan, Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Nuristan and Takhar.

Overall ARCS responded to the humanitarian needs of 5,535 earthquake affected households in 11 provinces. ARCS mobilized its prepositioned stocks to respond to the earthquake affected households as well as its emergency fund to procure food and NFIs. The IFRC team also supported coordination of managing partner expectations including media. In addition to monitoring, gathering and disseminating media messages on ARCS’ response to the earthquake, the IFRC communications delegate, together with ARCS Communications Department conducted a sensitization on basic skills to handle the media expectation during emergencies. Experiences gained by those interviewed by various national and international media were shared with ARCS, IFRC and ICRC participants.

The communications delegate from IFRC country cluster support team (CCST) in Delhi together with the PMER delegate in IFRC country office in Kabul supported in documenting story on ARCS response efforts to the earthquake victims in affected regions. The story can be access here

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country

In addition to IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), other Movement partners with presence in Afghanistan are Canadian Red Cross Society (CRCS), Danish Red Cross (DRC) and Norwegian Red Cross (NRC). The IFRC maintains a country office located in the same compound as the ARCS headquarters in Kabul, with three field offices in Mazar-e- Sharif, Herat and Jalalabad. The IFRC country office staff and support services were mobilized to support ARCS during earthquake response.

The IFRC senior management liaised with the leadership of ARCS in providing overall direction to the response. The disaster management (DM) delegate closely supported the DM department of the National Society in operational planning and coordination. The delegation's technical staff supported their respective ARCS counterparts, including in translating EOC reports to English. In line with the role of the Secretariat to the IFRC membership, support provided by the Delegation to ARCS extended to coordination with Movement and external partners, including attending interagency coordination meetings.

The IFRC CCST in Delhi, the IFRC Asia Pacific regional office in Kuala Lumpur, the Delegation to the UN in New York and the Head Office in Geneva supported ARCS in sharing information about the disaster and its response, coordinating with partners based outside Afghanistan and profiling the work of the National Society internationally. The IFRC offices at different levels shared information with various stakeholders and responded to queries on behalf of the National Society, thus contributing to minimizing disruptions to ARCS leadership in directing the National Society's response.

Considering the complex context of Afghanistan (see 'Risk Assessment' section for more details), ICRC took the lead in providing security guidance to ARCS, IFRC and Partner National Societies within the country. This was done in accordance with the security management framework for the Movement which was agreed in 2014. The support by ICRC extended to coordination with state security forces and liaising with non-state armed actors for access by Movement partners to vulnerable people with the purpose of delivering neutral and impartial humanitarian assistance.

Furthermore, ICRC worked with ARCS in delivering humanitarian assistance to people displaced by the internal conflict which has been going on for years. However, ICRC worked alone in the fields of protection and detention in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law.

Movement Coordination

ANDMA plays a coordination role between all humanitarian organizations in the country. ARCS has the role for implementation and improvement of coordination on the earthquake response in north and northeast, with the Movement partners and other humanitarian organizations.
ARCS, IFRC and ICRC worked in close coordination through regular meetings held at Kabul and field levels as per need. ARCS Secretary General has chaired four emergency coordination meeting and attended by the IFRC and Movement partners (including Iranian Red Crescent and Qatar Red Crescent).

At the end of the relief phase, the Qatar Red Crescent’s DM officials provided in-country support to ARCS in the earthquake recovery programme for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), health, nutrition and shelter.

There were extensive consultations between ARCS, IFRC and ICRC in the development of this plan. ICRC has pledged to provide at least 320 tents. ARCS, IFRC, ICRC and Pakistan Red Crescent also issued a joint statement on 30 October re-affirming the Movement working mechanism to address the humanitarian needs brought by the earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As majority of areas covered by this operation were also affected by conflict situations, ARCS undertook distributions through its grassroots branch network where IFRC staff undertook field monitoring and provided needed technical support. ICRC provided lead to monitor and update about security situation in the country and operation areas.

The ARCS, IFRC and ICRC worked in close coordination during the response operation, through regular and need based coordination meetings.

Aside from the contribution to the DREF replenishment, ARCS also received bilateral contributions from Danish Red Cross, the Red Cross Society of China, Turkish Red Crescent and Qatar Red Crescent, for supporting in the earthquake recovery activities for WASH, health, nutrition and shelter. Other supports received included 500 tents, 500 tarpaulins and 1,000 blankets from Iranian Red Crescent and USD 50,000 cash pledge from Turkish Red Crescent.

Overview of non-RCRC actors in country

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the authorities mobilized their disaster response mechanisms at national and provincial levels. The National Security Council convened a meeting on 27 October 2015 – a day after the earthquake – to discuss the response and to ensure that government resources were allocated appropriately. On the same day, the ARCS president attended a meeting with the government during which the National Society was requested to address a range of needs in security-sensitive areas due to its wide grassroots network and acceptance.

ANDMA and Provincial Disaster Management Committees (PMDC) coordinated the overall response to delivery assistance to earthquake affected communities with in-country humanitarian partners, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) and Ministry of Public Works have since worked to restore the road section which was blocked including the road from Kabul to Jalalabad and Taliqan to Kunduz.

Together with IFRC, ARCS also participated in Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) meetings convened by UN OCHA.

The HCT is composed of heads of UN humanitarian agencies, six INGOs, observers from three donor agencies, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, and he UN Resident Coordinator's Office. The recent HCT meeting focusing on the earthquake was held on Thursday, 29 October in which ARCS and IFRC also participated. HCT member agencies supported ongoing response and assessment efforts at the national and provincial levels in coordination with the ANDMA and PMDCs As well as the ARCS and other humanitarian agencies have conducted assessment in closed coordination with ANDMA and PMDCs the situation reported by OCHA.