Jun 2017
Despite not being able to meet in the region, filmmakers from either side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir have produced a new joint documentary highlighting the need for a collaborative approach to disaster management. 
 
The South Asia region is prone to natural disasters, several of which have had a devastating impact in the Kashmir region. However there is currently very little work being done across the LoC to prepare for, and respond to, these disasters. 
 
A team of four filmmakers from both sides of the LoC have produced Disaster: the common enemy to raise awareness of the importance of working across the divide at both a political and community level to improve disaster management. Mohammed Arif Urfi is one of the filmmakers:

This film is not actually a film about disaster management but a film about collaboration across the LoC. We want to make the governments and people aware of the issues and prevent social unrest. You cannot separate what happens in one part of Kashmir from the other. We need communication between people living up and down stream.

As well as making disaster management more effective, and therefore potentially saving thousands of lives, a shared response could help build confidence between different groups and support long-term peacebuilding efforts in Kashmir. 
 
With Kashmiri partners, Conciliation Resources has begun exploring this area of work. Shafat Ahmed is a Kashmiri from the Indian side of Kashmir who supports peacebuilding initiatives and appears in the new documentary:

Measures for collaborating to both prepare for, and respond to natural disasters would help dismantle the thinking that supports the highly securitised division of the region. It would create trust which is essential for the region’s progress.

The making of the documentary was in itself a form of collaboration across the divide. Filmmakers Pawan Bali, Irfan Dar, Mohammed Arif Urfi and Mohsin Shakil were unable to meet in the region or even communicate directly whilst making the film. Mohammed Arif Urfi explains:

Making this film was totally different to traditional filmmaking, as we have no direct contact with each other. We have to message each other via a third party and produce content independently, which is very difficult for filmmakers and poses unique challenges.

Over the past 40 years, South Asia has experienced more than 1,300 natural disasters – these have been particularly severe in the Himalayan sub-region of Kashmir. An earthquake in 2005 killed 80,000 people and left four million homeless, and floods in September 2014 were some of the worst to hit the state in over 100 years. The film demonstrates the benefits that the two sides working together could bring to communities affected by such events. 

Suggestions for ways to collaborate include sharing hydrological and seismological data to improve early warning and improving lines of communication and access across the LoC during humanitarian crises. 
 
This film is the fourth in a series of films produced by the team, which explore the importance of building bridges and trust across divided Kashmir. The other three films focus on trade, religion and on the stories of families separated by the conflict. 

Watch Disaster: the common enemy