Pakistan Floods 2010 - Helpless and Helpers / Ejaz Asi - Flickr Creative Commons

Improving food security and strengthening community based disaster risk reduction

The project to improve food security and strengthen community based disaster risk reduction in Chail Valley, Swat, Pakistan was designed and based on participatory approaches and involved local communities (men and women). It was implemented under cash for work modalities.

Title of case study

Improving food security and strengthening community based disaster risk reduction (DRR)

Which priority of action does the practice/case contribute to?

This project addresses all five priority actions of the HFA:

·       Making DRR a priority;

·       Knowing the risks and take action;

·       Building understanding and awareness;

·       Reducing risks;

·       Be prepared and ready to act.


The project to improve food security and strengthen community based disaster risk reduction in Chail Valley, Swat, Pakistan was designed and based on participatory approaches and involved local communities (men and women). It was implemented under cash for work modalities.


Highland inhabitants of Chail Valley were badly affected by the 2010 floods. Since 2012 the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) have been providing livelihood support to improve the food security of residents and reduce the impact of future disasters on the community. WFP uses cash transfers and provides grants to community members for their participation in community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) structural and non-structural rehabilitation activities.

Accomplishments of this programme include capacity building and awareness raising of community members, construction of check dams, slope stabilization through bioengineering, sowing of seeds and community plantations. The project communities are highly gender sensitive. Gender specific activities were designed with household DRR.


Kalam, Pakistan.

How the problem was addressed?

Community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM) is a developing discipline in Pakistan. This was a unique project in this hill valley and mountain community, where most of the floods begin.

The project identified 20 vulnerable villages. From the six most vulnerable communities, three men and three women were selected for training as master trainers. They were trained for 14 days in CBDRM.

In vulnerable villages, village DRM committees comprising of 15 members each were formed for men and women separately. The master trainers trained the community members in CBDRM for five days. During this training, the community prepared village plans indicating hazardous points and safe routes. Few of these maps were fixed on boards at common sites for the guidance of community at the time of emergency.

In 20 vulnerable villages, community awareness level was raised on the occurrence of disasters and the way villagers should respond. Similarly, six female teachers and 10 male teachers were trained in CBDRM who in turn trained 340 female students and 785 male students disaster response.

In addition to awareness, the skills of local communities in DRR related activities were enhanced. 

Training was imparted to 25 masons in check dam construction, to eight masons in bio engineering, and 25 persons in seed sowing and planting. One person was trained in data entry into WFP databases, one person in outdoor photography, and one young engineer in check dam construction. 856 women in 28 villages were trained in first aid and received an introduction to DRR.


The immediate food needs of 4,258 households were met through cash for work.

The inhabitants of 30 villages are more resilient and can now cope with flood hazards because of interventions like check dam construction, slope stabilization, plantation and seed sowing.

Out of the total of 44, committees comprised of men were formed in 38 villages while committees comprised of women were formed and strengthened in 28.

3,246 check dams measuring 561,228 cubic feet were constructed in 178 gullies in 30 villages.

417 retaining walls measuring 115,814 cubic feet were constructed at 72 sites in 20 villages.

Retaining walls were strengthened at eight sites with the use of bio material in walls and at sites with plantation and/or seed sowing.

163,017 plants were planted and 978 kg of seed sown.

All skilled labour and unskilled participants were engaged from amongst the local communities. 

Village committees have been resourced through skills and tools. The indigenous systems of “Nagha” for bio engineering measures is being used. Another indigenous system “Ashar” for maintenance and operations of structures will be used at the time of need.

Measuring success

The Project is very relevant to the area.

- Improved food consumption by      beneficiaries.

- Beneficiaries have the opportunity to stay with their families within their homes.

- Strong field mobilization.

- Step towards sustainable livelihoods.

- Beneficiaries are satisfied with structural activities and want to improve the nonstructural activities.

- Fruit trees, especially walnut trees, are better taken care of by the owners compared to non-fruit trees.

- Sense of ownership from the community on check dams and planted trees.

- 20 villages and 1,500 households oriented about basic DRR concepts.

- Mock drills and awareness sessions contributed a lot to community awareness with practical examples from the community responding to fires etc.

- The project helped operationalize village committees.

- Training material was relevant, however, the training manuals and material in local languages with more pictures would be more effective as the community has low literacy rates.

- Links with the local authorities including the Disaster Management Unit need to be strengthened.

Relevance to HFA

This was a productive initiative with community based DRR activities directly or indirectly contributing to the 5 priority areas of the Hyogo Framework for Action. It has had a positive impact at community level, and it can have an overall impact at country level. Under this project, relevant government ministries like environment and agriculture contributed as well. 

HFA was the guiding tool for this project enabling communities to address the 5 priority areas at local level.

In terms of geographical coverage, hilltop mountain communities were selected for this project; in close proximity of the project area are some of the highest peaks in the world, home to numerous glaciers.

Due to climate change, deforestation and the glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) phenomenon all contribute to generate flash floods, which cause widespread destruction to immediate rural hilltop communities and urban plains in the country. Therefore, DRR initiatives nip the evil (floods) in the bud (origin). 

Potential for replication

There is much scope to replicate this initiative in the surrounding districts of Shangla, Dir Chitral and Buner.

Presently, this project has been replicated in adjoining areas of Kalam where similar activities have been implemented for the last 2 years.

Contribution by

Khalid Rasul, Programme Officer WFP Peshawar Office – 03468564268 –

Lucie Kanova, Head of Communications & Reporting Unit, WFP Country Office, Islamabad (Pakistan),