Iraqi Red Crescent Society volunteers are helping communities in Mosul and the Tigris Valley to prepare for the potential collapse of Mosul Dam, which has been described as “the world’s most dangerous”.

Long-running conflict in the region has disrupted the maintenance needed to secure the dam, which sits on a foundation of soluble rock and needs careful monitoring to prevent erosion. If the dam fails, 10 million people in the Tigris Valley would be affected.

Estimates indicate that 45 feet of water would flood Mosul within hours of the collapse. Tikrit and Samarra would flood within one or two days, and Baghdad would be hit by 33 feet of water shortly afterwards – causing death, displacement, destruction of core infrastructure, loss of business assets, and increased health hazards.

In order to prepare people for the possible disaster, the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network has joined forces with the United Nations Development Fund and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to alert Iraq’s residents to the danger and recommend actions to take before, during, and after the collapse of the dam.

Iraqi Red Crescent Society volunteers went door to door to raise awareness and encourage people to download Red Cross and Red Crescent mobile apps, which contain information that can help keep families safe if the Mosul Dam fails.

The Multi-Hazard and First Aid apps were developed by the Global Disaster Preparedness Centre, which is supported by American Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The apps provide critical early warning alerts and basic first aid instructions that can help save lives, and include tools such as warning capabilities, up-to-date information on emergencies, and step-by-step instructions on how to respond to critical injuries.

In addition to the mobile apps, the public awareness campaign is spreading the same disaster preparedness messages via traditional media, community gatherings in high-risk flood areas, and digital media.

Flood preparedness is just one aspect of the comprehensive disaster-related work the Iraqi Red Crescent Society has carried out over the past decade. Volunteers have been delivering critical aid during the ongoing conflict in the country and are also equipped to deal with a variety of natural disasters. Most recently, more than 2,500 Iraqi Red Crescent volunteers have been providing health care, water, food, and sanitation support to families fleeing Mosul.