"Drop, Cover and Hold on": AKDN Takes Part in Global Earthquake Preparedness

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Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 28 October 2011 - On October 20, 2011, over 20,000 people affiliated with AKDN institutions joined millions of other participants in the Great ShakeOut campaign, an annual earthquake drill designed to educate people and organizations on how to prepare and protect themselves at work, school and community centres during an earthquake.

The AKDN operates in some of the most seismically active areas of the world, including Central and South Asia. Much of its schools, health clinics, and social services are located in the earthquake- prone Karakorum, Pamir and Hindu Kush mountain ranges.

As Mark Benthien, communications director for the Southern California Earthquake Center and leader of the ShakeOut initiative, explains, "ShakeOut is a model for how people and organizations around the world can approach community-wide earthquake preparedness, using a common set of messages, resources, and strategies, which grows as each new region develops new materials and concepts. This also allows ShakeOut drills to be implemented in areas that may otherwise lack necessary resources, and consistency worldwide helps limit confusion that can limit preparedness actions."

The potential of the campaign was demonstrated a few hours after the drill, when an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 struck the Indian state of Gujarat. While officials reported that most injuries were caused by people evacuating buildings in a state of panic, students from the Aga Khan School in the village of Chitravad urged their parents to Drop, Cover and Hold On – the strategy recommended in the ShakeOut campaign.

“The Drop, Cover and Hold On technique is highly effective in reducing injuries caused by non-structural hazards,” stresses Dr. Firoz Verjee, Coordinator of the AKDN’s Disaster Risk Management Initiative. “It is crucial to remind ourselves that we live in a seismically active part of the world, and must regularly practice how to respond during earthquakes.“

For more information about the global ShakeOut campaign, see www.ShakeOut.org or www.dropcoverholdon.org.

For more information about the Disaster Risk Management Initiative, contact drmi.communications@akdn.org.


The Disaster Risk Management Initiative (DRMI) was established in 2010 to strengthen the relevant disaster management capabilities of the agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Central and South Asia. The establishment of the DRMI is premised on the fact that the AKDN has been implementing large-scale development programmes in parts of the region for many decades. These programmes not only work to improve the quality of life of millions of beneficiaries, but also signify a substantial investment by the AKDN in a range of economic and social infrastructure. The protection of community livelihoods and assets is a moral imperative of the AKDN - the DRMI, thus, serves as a focal point to coordinate and accelerate risk reduction activities in the region, much of which is hazard prone yet without even basic standards of structural and non-structural safety and preparedness.